This Thursday (14), the position transfer ceremony took place for the new rector of the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB), professor Georgina Gonçalves.
Professor Gina Gonçalves officially took office on August 30, in a ceremony held in Brasília. She has a degree in Social Service from the Catholic University of Salvador, a master’s degree in Education from the Federal University of Bahia and a PhD in Education Sciences from the University of Paris VIII. She is an associate professor at the Center for Arts, Humanities and Letters (CAHL) at UFRB. She was the university’s vice-chancellor from 2015-2019. And in 2019, she was elected rector of UFRB and not sworn in by then president Jair Bolsonaro.
In an interview with Brasil de Fato Bahia, the professor talks about the symbolism of becoming the first black dean at a university with 81% black students. Georgina Gonçalves also talks about the role of the university in the interior of the state and what her dreams are for the following years.
:: Black women are the majority among quota students at the University of Brasília ::
Brasil de Fato Bahia: UFRB is a university with a majority of black students and also with a large number of black professors and other employees. How important is it now to have a black dean?
Georgina Gonçalves: The Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB) actually has a very peculiar profile: 81% of its students are black, this is also the case among employees, both technicians and teachers. A black dean marks this distinction of the university and highlights how important the symbol is for federal educational institutions, for higher education institutions, specifically, and as a symbol it is important for the democratic struggle. Four years ago, I thought that it was exactly these same marks that I have on my body, in my biography, that were responsible for my non-nomination. Today, participating in democratic conduct and later being appointed by President Lula, I think that these marks are signs, symbols of resistance, power, of struggle.
UFRB was created in this effort to internalize and popularize the public university in Bahia. Has she been able to achieve these goals? What are the main challenges for this?
The Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia is a university in the interior, present in three identity territories of our state: Recôncavo, Vale do Jiquiriçá and Portal do Sertão. At our university, 93% of students are from the state of Bahia. Of these, 77% are from the interior of the state, that is, less than 15% of our students are from Salvador and the metropolitan region. Therefore, UFRB is a provincial university. Our results related to teaching, extension and research policies are reflected in these places. The biggest challenges are certainly those related to intensifying permanence and student assistance policies – I mentioned our socioeconomic profile in the other question, right?! But above all, to ensure that this university further deepens its relationships, that its social function results in development for the territories to which it belongs.
:: Student mothers demand care spaces at public universities in Bahia ::
Professor, you were the most voted on the 2019 triple list, but were not appointed to the position by then president Jair Bolsonaro. Furthermore, UFRB suffered, like other federal universities, repeated funding cuts during the years of Bolsonaro’s government. In this moment we are in now, of democratic reconstruction, what is the role of the university in this process?
It is important to say that since the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the university was already experiencing strong attacks. From 2019 to 2023, the period of the former government is marked by frontal attacks on democracy, university autonomy, but also constraints of other dimensions, which concern the material point of view. There was a symbolic constraint, which is quite serious, on the autonomy of the university, because the autonomy of a university is fundamental, but the budget constraint forced us to restrict investments, dreams, propositions that are essential for the university. I’m talking about investments in research, teaching, extension, investments in the area of student assistance. To give you an idea of funding expenses, in 2015, the university received R$40 million. In 2023, our funding budget was in the order of R$32.5 million. If we had this budget corrected, it should be in the order of R$64 million. But what is important to highlight in the question you raise about democratic reconstruction is that the university was an important space for resistance, confrontation, defense of democracy. The university community set an example of mobilization. And in this moment of hope, of reconstruction, of the new government with a more democratic bias, we at UFRB have the expectation of moving forward with regard to rights policy, talking mainly about assistance, student retention actions; to advance postgraduate research; advance in teaching. I think that the university institution has an important role in contributing to the development and a project of a more democratic nation, with justice, with social justice. The university currently has the role of guarantor of higher education as a social right. This is fundamentally our role at this moment. Continue contributing to a fair and inclusive national project, which points to a future of hope.
:: Religious racism creates an obstacle to the implementation of the law on Afro culture in schools ::
What are your dreams and goals for UFRB over the next four years?
In these next four years, I think that UFRB needs to confirm the project that distinguishes it. The university needs to deepen relations in its territory, the university needs to guarantee the resistance and power of its community, power and commitment to its people – and here I am talking about young people, women, black people, workers. Guarantee the permanence of these people, guarantee the dream, contribute to the realization of the dream that access and success in higher education represent. Therefore, goals and dreams in these four years, if you can put these two words in the same sentence, are to make the university full, powerful, full, fulfilling its social function, guaranteeing higher education for the broadest layers of Brazilian society.
Source: BdF Bahia
Editing: Alfredo Portugal