“Imagine a NOVA University where everyone, without exception, feels part of an inspiring and safe community, which promotes their talent and values the richness that comes from their differences. A university that reflects the diversity of the world and where the intersection of ideas, cultures and perspectives is celebrated and encouraged, showing that diversity, in all its plurality, is one of the great strengths of universities of the future. A university where knowledge is created in all its genius and transmitted in all its fecundity; where people challenge each other with all loyalty, esteem themselves in all their merit and value themselves in all their virtue; where negative factors are reduced and dissipated, giving rise to understanding, collaboration and friendship. A NOVA without silos or barriers, and where no one with talent and desire is left out”, highlighted the Rector of NOVA, João Sàágua, at the beginning of the ceremony that occupied the large auditorium of the Rectory this Wednesday, November 29th, in an exercise about the future he imagines for “our university”.
This is right after expressing, on behalf of NOVA, “deep gratitude to each and everyone who, over five decades, studied or studied here, worked or works here, taught or taught here and investigated or researched here. In short, they lived or lived a very important part of their lives here and here they gave or gave their best for NOVA”.
The program for this very special NOVA Day began with the inauguration of the work commemorating the university's 50th anniversary: designed by Maria Ana Vasco Costa, a ceramist known for her three-dimensional tiles, the piece Sem Título (Bodies of Water) is installed in the Campus garden from Campolide.
Soon after, the presentation of the 2022 and 2023 Pedagogical Innovation Awards reinforced the idea of a university committed to continuing to create the future. This is a distinction inspired by the University's mission to promote quality teaching, in all study cycles, through excellent academics capable of providing a transformational and intellectually challenging teaching experience to its students.
It is worth remembering that, in 2022, the work of Isabel Catarino, professor at the Department of Physics at NOVA FCT, was recognized with the implementation of the “Active Vibrations and Waves” project in class, with honourable mentions going to Guilherme Victorino, from NOVA IMS. Fabrizio Macagno; Chrysi Rapanta; Inês Mateus de Almeida, from NOVA FCSH, Francisco Antunes da Cunha Martins, from Nova SBE, and also Marco António Roque de Freitas; João Filipe Soutelo Soeiro de Carvalho, from NOVA FCSH.
This year, the Prize went to Professor Francisco Pereira Coutinho, from NOVA School of Law, whose project stood out for introducing a mock court, as a teaching and assessment method, in undergraduate subjects with many students. Furthermore, three honourable mentions were also awarded to Professors Leid Zejnilovic, from Nova SBE, and Ricardo Parreira and João Brás da Piedade, both from IHMT.
It was also a day to give students a voice – and to bring to the stage the team that won the Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge awarded by Amazon. Attributing a monetary value of 500 thousand dollars (close to 455 thousand euros), the competition launched by the online sales giant challenged university teams from around the world to develop solutions to one of the most difficult problems in conversational Artificial Intelligence; Create experiences that respond to users' ever-changing needs while completing complex tasks.
About a month and a half ago it was known that the result of the competition could not be more encouraging, given that 1st place was achieved by the team from the IT Department/NOVA LINCS of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the NOVA University of Lisbon. Pointing out that their project was from the only competing university whose mother tongue is not English, Diogo Silva and Diogo Tavares, the students who represented that team on this NOVA Day, revealed that their great ambition is “to make users feel who are interacting with a human.”
Throughout the afternoon, and while the medals were handed out to the new doctors from the various schools and institutes of the University, there was still time for performances by the NOVA Choir and the FCSH Choir – and also to hearing the inspiring testimonies of some researchers from the university.
Pedro Matos Pereira, associate researcher at ITQB NOVA Pedro Matos Pereira, pointed out several of the “Challenges of the future for life sciences” and how “educating, training people will lead us to a better future”, also highlighting the importance of interdisciplinarity – more still at a university that “has a little bit of everything and of excellent quality”.
Alex Armand, who won the 1st grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for the area of Economics in Portugal, made a point of starting by saying that “success is made up of a large number of failures” - and that in the end what counts is perseverance: “the secret is to be curious, humble and, of course, ambitious”.
Cristina Brito, for her part, presented us with the research of the 4-Oceans project and also presented with an ERC grant, highlighting the importance of the Humanities for the oceans – even more so when we have already completed half a Decade for Science and the Oceans.
The usual academic procession concluded the ceremony, followed by a huge applause for NOVA on its 50th anniversary and, of course, congratulations were sung.
Watch or rewatch the entire ceremony on NOVA's Youtube Channel.