Mutiny or mismanagement? The maneuvers to expel the rector of the Pompeu Fabra University | News from Catalonia | EUROtoday

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Pompeu Fabra
Facilities of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.Carles Ribas

On September 29, 2022, the then rector of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Oriol Amat, had met to eat with professor Arcadi Navarro. Upon arriving on the restaurant, on Balmes Street in Barcelona, ​​he was stunned that two of his vice-rectors have been ready for him there (David Sancho and Pablo Pareja), along with the professors and commissioners Carles Ramió and José García Montalvo. But the shock was big when the members of his workforce invited him to go away workplace, below the warning that, in any other case, the vast majority of vice-rectors would resign en bloc, with the implications for administration and the exterior picture that this might suggest.

The subsequent day, Amat—who had assumed the reins of the UPF in May 2021—surprisingly introduced to the Board of Directors that he was bringing ahead the elections. He argued that “his major election commitments” had already been accomplished or had “achieved a high level of achievement,” based on the press launch the college issued that very same day. “No one believed it, it was very strange. In a year and a half you don't have time to do everything. It was evident that there had been strong pressure,” explains a instructor who, weeks earlier than, had acquired hints about “problems in the rectorate” and a potential change of presidency.

What induced that controversial meal? Why was a part of Amat's workforce sad? This newspaper has reconstructed the episode by the tales of a dozen individuals – testimonies and protagonists of the occasions – most of whom have requested confidentiality.

After finishing two phrases, in 2021 the then rector Jaume Casals appears for a substitute and appears at Oriol Amat, professor of Economics and dean of the Barcelona School of Management (BSM). “It is difficult to find someone to run for rector or other management positions, there are no incentives. That is why we always look for a consensus candidate,” a number of voices agree. But the selection was not preferred from the start by sure individuals, who would later star within the aforementioned meal.

And disagreements would quickly start, primarily on account of their method of managing the college, far more just like a non-public firm. He “he created rapid action groups, to carry out projects in a short time. This created a lot of tension, it was a boiler,” recollects a member near the campus authorities. “He put pressure on people, sent messages at odd hours, had a distant and unempathetic character, changed his mind or exposed the team by saying one thing in private and another in meetings with the Department of Universities. Amat was not doing things well and there is a moment when several vice-rectors meet and start talking about resigning,” summarizes one other testimony.

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“Everything started to come together after the executive meetings. People stayed and talked and saw that it wasn't working, so they asked themselves what could be done. They were heterogeneous people, although there were also vice-rectors,” recollects one of many individuals. Several individuals agree that for months dinners and meals have been held, and chats have been organized to criticize the rector's administration. But every little thing was performed secretly. Nobody issued a criticism in public or in boards resembling boards of administrators or cloisters.

Many voices level to former rector Jaume Casals as a key participant within the motion on account of his place and relationship with the remainder of the academic group. “He feels bad because he was the one who put Amat in and he sees that he made a mistake, so he tries to redo what he did,” a number of senior officers agree. They additionally declare to have attended dinners at Casals' home to share criticism in opposition to the rector. For his half, Casals, who admits that he had details about the discontent and intentions of this small group, denies any participation. “Having information does not mean participating. I didn't give support,” he says. And he clarifies that the lunch on September 29 was “a friendly conversation” between some vice-rectors and Amat. However, he did advise the then rector to heed the request for resignation.

Former rector Oriol Amat, in an image from 2021.
Former rector Oriol Amat, in a picture from 2021.albert garcia

But Amat's entourage sees him in another way and, though they admit his particularities as a supervisor, “from here to carrying out a coup d'état is a big step,” admits a member of his workforce. From this aspect, the model of occasions appears totally different and factors to choices by Amat that upset those that name the puss: tried to place an finish to entrenched conditions within the departments, the place sure professors have been marginalized; He put an finish to exterior commissions for research and reviews “that were of no use”; or he considerably reduce bills for bills linked to the rectorate, based on his entourage. “Decisions were made that affected the particular interests of certain people, because there were people who managed the university as if it were their own,” these sources add.

Private pursuits and controversial dismissals

But there have been additionally a number of controversial dismissals, all near Casals and his circle, resembling that of the chief of employees, the supervisor or momentary employees, resembling Eduard Vallory, employed to implement academic innovation on the college, with a wage of about 80,000 euros, and that he was fired “for doing nothing,” based on members of Amat's workforce. The college admits that its contract was not renewed and it was determined that these duties could be assumed by inside employees.

On the topic of personnel, Amat additionally highlighted some irregularities within the hiring of academics tenure-track, doctorates that the college was interested by incorporating and have been paid a wage complement as an incentive to enhance the wage stipulated by regulation. An inside audit and a subsequent report from the Audit Office decided that there have been 21 professors charging above the laws, a few of them much more than a professor. The UPF assures that “this issue was corrected in 2022.”

With this breeding floor, discontent grew in a sector of the college. “Some vice-rectors said they would resign and others said they would also join,” says a professor from this opposition group. This led to the assembly on September 29, during which some members of his workforce—others didn’t know him—and the professors requested him: “Do you want to continue? Because the problem is that you don't have the support of your team,” remembers one of many attendees. Amat, stunned within the first place by what he thought of to be a entice (he had solely met with Navarro) and seeing individuals there that he thought of his utmost belief, added to the truth that he was not in full capability because of the persistent covid that he suffered from, decides to succumb.

Amat assures that he all the time felt supported by the group. “No one from my team made any specific criticism of me internally,” says the previous rector, who formally refers back to the causes defined within the assertion, however to which is added a state of bodily and psychological exhaustion because of the sickness. “They used the weakness that he suffered at that time to pressure him to leave,” say sources near him. The University doesn’t remark and likewise refers back to the official letter of 2022.

Another supply particulars that Amat, in actuality, additionally left as a result of he had fulfilled a part of his goals, however the remaining noticed that he couldn’t on account of inside opposition. “You cannot govern the university if you have this group of five or six people against it,” says this supply. However, Amat decides to go away, however not with the immediacy that the opposition group requested. He asks to proceed the electoral course of, to go away with out making noise and to disguise the state of affairs in order to not tarnish the identify of the college and his personal. “They wanted to do it in a way so that there was no blood and a pact of silence was made, but it has not been achieved,” concludes a member of stated group.

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