Nnormally, we celebrate USP’s birthdays on round dates, such as in 2014, when the university completed 80 years. But 2020 was a special year and USP and its community have a lot to celebrate at the age of 87, completed this January 25, 2021.
The last twelve months have fully demonstrated the strength, competence, resilience and excellence of this University. All of us, members of the community, residents of the State of São Paulo and Brazilians, in general, must be proud of being able to maintain an institution with this quality performance, in a developing country, with all the financial, bureaucratic, cultural and financial difficulties. USP faces in its day-to-day activities.
The pandemic that has plagued the country since the end of February 2020 was the greatest challenge in our history. It forced us to act essentially remotely, starting in the second half of March, with the exception of research activities that required face-to-face work. Quite a challenge, which required dedication and delivery from everyone, teachers, students, employees.
The suitability of teachers and students for distance learning was surprising.
In almost two weeks, classes were resumed, and more than 90% of subjects were offered again. I must emphasize that the performance of the students is being exemplary. Despite possible logistical difficulties, students are overcoming obstacles through mutual cooperation, participation in extra-class teaching activities and collaboration as volunteers in various researches developed by USP to combat covid-19.
Extension activities also registered an increase, logically more notable in the area of Health.
Noteworthy were the availability of hospital beds for the installation of Intensive Care Units (ICUs), the reinforcement in the activities of hospitals and health centers, as well as the provision of equipment and human resources for carrying out laboratory tests to detect the disease. . For the tests, five centers were set up with the support of laboratories of 18 units.
Cultural activities now reach a surprisingly larger audience, due to the intense use of remote transmissions, lives, which have multiplied audiences. And administrative activities continue to work perfectly, thanks to servers that remain in their jobs, surrounded by health safety standards and supported by a large number of colleagues working in telework.
In the research area, USP certainly demonstrated its great commitment to society. More than 250 projects in which different and numerous groups have adapted to initiate studies on covid-19 and sars-cov-2 and are making the results available to the population in a very short time. These are multidisciplinary, inter-unit groups that work with limited financial resources, some of which rely only on donations obtained through the USP Vida program.
Some of the works are projects directly related to Health, such as the sequencing of the genome of the new coronavirus, the isolation and cultivation of the virus in the laboratory, the saliva test, the nasal spray vaccine, among others. But there are also several studies in other areas to combat the pandemic, such as the development of lung ventilators (already being used in several states), masks and facial protectors (already in production), anatomical pads (already in industrial production), the Observatory from Covid-19, equipment for decontamination of surfaces (some also in industrial production), big data analysis and so on.
Unfortunately, the pandemic was not our only challenge in 2020.
After 30 years, financial and administrative autonomy, achieved by state universities in São Paulo through Decree 29,598 of 2/2/1989, suffered a severe attack by Bill 529/20, which was processed in the Legislative Assembly in the second semester, in a package measures aimed at fiscal adjustment. Thanks to the intense movement of the entire community, we were able to remove the articles that hit universities.
Similarly, Bill 627/20, aimed at defining the state budget for 2021, included a clause that removed about 30% of the budget of Fapesp, the largest research financier in the country at the time. The Bill was unfortunately approved, but the community managed to have the Governor return, by decree, the funds to the Foundation.
In closing, we also face great difficulties for the management of USP.
The Supplementary Law 173/2020, which initially seemed to be restricted to the wage freeze at the University, which in itself would be a serious problem, proved to be much more comprehensive: it prevents promotions and the correction of aid amounts, freezes the count of time for quinquennial and sixth part, as well as prohibiting competitions for public positions, in addition to other provisions.
These are difficulties that even make the financial problem that the University has been experiencing since 2014 smaller. But they do not alleviate the great uncertainties in relation to the near future.
I have already commented that, after almost a century of the cult of knowledge, we are experiencing a remarkable period of negativism and obscurantism in Brazil and in the world. University detractors feel liberated and encouraged by this wave. Therefore, it is necessary to always be attentive in your defense.
For all this, we should celebrate this anniversary with much pride.
USP faced and overcame all obstacles and I say, without fear, that we are today a better university and more inserted in society.