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The University celebrates the investiture of 319 PhDs from 26 countries

"It has fallen to you to finish your theses in the midst of a pandemic. You have been courageous and tenacious; you have listened neither to the discouraging messages nor to the siren calls," says the rector.

FotoManuelCastells/The University of Navarra held the investiture ceremony this afternoon, attended by some of the 319 PhDs who have defended their theses in the last two academic years.

04 | 06 | 2021

A total of 319 PhDs, belonging to 16 faculties and schools of the University of Navarra, have defended their theses during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. The investiture of the new PhDs was held in the Museum of the academic centre. For the first time, it was a joint ceremony for two graduating classes, as last year's ceremony could not be held due to the health situation.

Despite the pandemic, more than 300 theses were defended by doctors from 26 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, USA, Honduras, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Uganda and Venezuela.

"You have had to finish your theses in the middle of a pandemic. But you have been brave and tenacious. You have listened to neither discouraging messages nor siren calls. You have completed your work under the most difficult conditions," acknowledged the rector, Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero.

"Today we celebrate an inheritance," he said at the beginning of his speech. "The new doctors trained at the University of Navarra have taken up the baton in a long-distance race: you are now the protagonists of an exciting adventure. You are the heirs of the men and women who decided to work for a world in which knowledge would be at the service of all. Because that is the only driving force that gives full meaning to research: its positive impact on the lives of many people.

At the University of Navarra," he added, "we have shaped a truly humanist institution, which seeks to illuminate every corner of knowledge in order to place it at the service of others", he stressed. This, in an almost literal sense according to Professor Sánchez-Tabernero, was what Francisco Ponz, the third Rector of the University, who died last December, did. He emphasised his dedication to study, his humility and his status as a teacher.

On the subject of humility, he recalled how he used to advise his students to avoid individualistic competitiveness, an "almost revolutionary" statement in the contemporary world, the rector said. "He was well aware that science almost never comes from the brilliant idea of genius, but is often the result of teamwork. He knew that ivory towers are a drag on knowledge.

Research to confront a global tragedy

Ramón Salaverría, professor at the Faculty of Communication and sponsor of the graduating class, said that "today seemed improbable. More than one, in moments of anxiety, would have even considered it impossible". This auditorium, he pointed out, is today a monument to sacrifice and renunciation: "You have all made an effort that only you, and your most beloved people, know how far it will go".

"Getting a doctorate has never been an easy task. It is a path that demands singular effort, conviction and discipline. It is a long, lonely journey, with many steep slopes and many precipices," said the professor. "However, rarely has the goal been so remote and unattainable as on this occasion," he added.

In his opinion, this time has revealed to us that research activity "is transitory, transitive and, above all, transcendent. Rarely has this finalist character of science been more evident than during this uncertain era in which we live. The world has needed researchers to face a global tragedy. Each one of you, in your own discipline, has managed to find the way out".

For his part, Javier Sáez Gastearena, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, referred to the value that over the last year has often become "the cornerstone" of the work of the new doctors. "The courage to remain sensible and resist the temptation to get carried away. To not see anything, but to keep fighting and moving forward; successfully or not," he stressed.

The researcher thanked the role of the people and institutions that have participated in his training, including the University, his thesis supervisors and especially his family and friends "for always persevering and for their unconditional affection, for their trust, understanding and encouragement".

The theses defended in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years have been made possible thanks to the support of institutions such as the Association of Friends of the University of Navarra, La Caixa Foundation, Caja Navarra Foundation and Banco Santander.

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