The biochemist and academic Rosa Devés have been appointed as rector of the University of Chile until 2026.
She is the first woman to hold the position in the almost 180-year history of the University.
The bronze plaque of the office of the highest authority was changed at the University of Chile to receive the first female rector in its 179-year history. The biochemist was elected to lead the House of Bello in the period 2022 to 2026 on May 12 after winning the first round with 51% of the votes of the academics of the university campus.
In her acceptance speech, Rosa Devés said, “We have come to represent women and their struggles to win spaces for development in the academic field, in the professions, and education in general.” Then she added, “I want to say from this place to the girls and young women of this country that it’s not impossible.”
Devés has a doctorate in biochemistry from Western University in Canada. She was a pro-rector of the Casa de Bello between 2010 and 2014. Previously, she served as Director of the postgraduate and postgraduate departments. During the two periods of Ennio Vivaldi’s rectory, she held the position of vice-rector for academic affairs, an extensive career that now leads this house of studies.
As the new rector of the University of Chile Devés said in her speech, “Today we face a global society threatened by unsustainability, inequalities, insecurity, and the fragility of democracy. Our task is to contribute from knowledge to a future that includes us all as free and autonomous people.”
Ministers, authorities, and academics attended the ceremony, including the former President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, and the current President of Chile, Gabriel Boric. The former rector of the University of Chile, Ennio Vivaldi, referred to the arrival of Rosa Devés, describing her as “an exceptional woman for her integrity, rectitude, intelligence, and ability to value academic life in all its dimensions.”
Regarding the internal challenges of the University, the biochemists highlighted the need to generate more transversal spaces for undergraduate teaching “so that a student who enters the University of Chile truly enters the University of Chile and not just its space. Therefore, we will talk with incentive programs so that students can attend various faculties, not only their home faculty”, she indicated.
To this, she added the challenges around research and the mainstreaming of gender equality, “for example, in favoring female leadership, very importantly in the field of research with projects focused on them as well,” Devés said.
Finally, the rector highlighted the role that public education must play in times of uncertainty: to promote “a civic culture based on respect for democracy.” In this sense, she indicated that “we will worry about nourishing with relevant ideas and knowledge the discussion about the rules that govern us and public policies to achieve higher levels of equity in all areas because in this way we will also contribute to a peaceful and democratic coexistence.”