A short, symbolic, ceremony that was streamed on the University's YouTube channel from the auditorium of Palazzo Prodi, with no audience in attendance. That's how the University of Trento, for the first time, welcomed its new Rector and waved goodbye to the outgoing one.
On 23 February, Flavio Deflorian was elected as the next Rector of the University of Trento and tomorrow he will officially begin his six-year term. Today, he received the ermine cape, emblem of the Rector's office, and the Charter, from the Paolo Collini.
The ceremony included musical interludes by the Polyphonic Choir and Orchestra of the University, and opened with the welcome address of the doyen of the University of Trento, Remo Job, who in his speech underlined the role of Rector as 'primus inter pares'. "A role that emphasizes membership in a community and an assumption of responsibility which is hot so heavy because is shared. Being Rector is not simply an expression of political power, it is a role that requires the ability to communicate with all the components of the University, and the ability to welcome and make the most of the contributions of all".
Then Paolo Collini, in an emotional speech, addressed the audience for the last time as Rector: "Today it is not up to me to look ahead, nor to list the successes achieved, which however have been many and have given me great satisfaction. These six years have been intense and our University made big steps forward, growing and becoming more complete. Our University expanded its areas of study - to include medicine, agriculture, sport - earning a spot among the best institutions. Since the first public assembly, in which the slogan was 'A university of people', my goal has been to grow by focusing on people and their extraordinary level of expertise, professionalism and dedication".
"I didn't think we would grow this much, in size and quality - continued Collini. Today the University of Trento has 721 faculty members, we were only 570 when I took office. A result that we have achieved thanks to the resources provided by the Autonomous Province of Trento, but also through the success of our University in national and international competitive calls. In these six years we have hired more than 350 highly skilled people and some of these - about ten every year - came from foreign countries. This community has given me so much: it has been a great experience to see the University grow thanks to them".
Finally, a thought on the times we are living: "Leaving in this moment is a bit sad, it is sad to see our students at home. But there is nothing we can do now, except continuing to respect the rules and avoid physical contact. Which paradoxically is exactly what we would like to do. We are a community open to discussion. The exchange of views is essential to university life, it is part of the things you learn in university, as I have often told students. And as the academic community has grown, now we need to respond to requests for new facilities and for support and resources to welcome new people. Yesterday, I presented a new idea for the development of the University that I leave to those who will lead it after me".
Then the President of the Student Council, Edoardo Giudici, thanked Paolo Collini and wished the best to Flavio Deflorian. "First of all, a huge thank you to Rector Collini. It has been a pleasure to work with him, to know him. As a Rector, he managed to be close to students in a way that anyone who has lived in our University has the impression of knowing him, even if they have never spoken to him in person", he said. Then addressed Deflorian: "The first challenge for the new Rector will be the reopening of the University in the coming months. I hope that the courage that you demonstrated in running for the post in such a difficult moment will remain over the years, because we need it to re-invent the university: for example, with a greater focus on lifelong learning. It will take courage to commit to increase the number of students and with them to increase study spaces, halls of residence and services".
The President of the Board of Directors of the University, Daniele Finocchiaro, looked back at the past term and looked forward at the new one: "Paolo Collini exercised the role of Rector with sensitivity and balance. He kept in mind the goal of building an even stronger and highly regarded University, maintaining dialogue with all the stakeholders. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank him for the quality with which he interpreted the special autonomy enjoyed by the University. And I wish good work to Professor Flavio Deflorian, who will have the task of leading the University of Trento through challenges and transformations in the coming years. Under his leadership we can only expect positive results, given the intelligence and effectiveness with which he has held top positions in our institution in recent years".
After receiving the ermine cape and the University Charter, the incoming rector, Flavio Deflorian, gave his inauguration speech. "We will talk about the challenges in the coming days - he said. Today we say goodbye to the outgoing rector. Paolo Collini has faced many difficulties in these six years, obtaining very important results and a significant increase of teaching staff. Today, the University of Trento is fully benefiting of the ministry's reward schemes, a necessary condition to ensure resources for its future growth. One of the things that struck me in his work was his vision of a university made of people. That was not just a slogan for Collini, but a constant commitment and a reminder to always look beyond the challenges, the organizations, to see people with expectations, doubts and skills. With this approach, Collini has been able to forge a very close relationship with the community. He has not just been a 'kind' Rector. He has also been able to be firm when the situation required it, always from a position of respect. I think we will miss this. I will try to take inspiration from him and those who came before him in the coming years, not only in terms of governance".
Deflorian then briefly remembered his years of study at the University of Trento and his first steps as an academic, mentioning those he met along the way and his loving family. "Our lives and stories are the result of the people we meet. As I begin this new journey, I am sure that I will give back to the University the good that I have learned and taken from it in these years, first of all from Paolo Collini".
Tomorrow, 1st April, Rector Flavio Deflorian will meet journalists from local newspapers - in an online press conference - and will present the team of Vice-Rectors that will work with him in various areas in the coming years.