Ladies and gentlemen, Rectors, Vice-Rectors, representatives of Iași universities,Mr. Prefect, Mr. President of the County Council, Mr. Mayor,Esteemed representatives of the academic and pre-academic community in Iași,Distinguished representatives of religious denominations,Respected colleagues, members of our Academic Community,Dear students,
It is once again my joy and honor to say "Welcome" at the beginning of a new academic year at "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iași.
First and foremost, I would like to welcome the first-year students who are joining our academic family today. Congratulations on your achievement in getting here, as I know it has required a lot of effort, learning, and dedication. You are here in this auditorium because you have demonstrated curiosity, passion, and the determination to become doctors, dentists, pharmacists, or bioengineers. Today will be a memorable day for each of you: here and now, your journey into your professional life begins, and the path you have chosen is a beautiful and noble one, but also challenging and full of trials. We, the academic staff of UMF Iași, are here to support and guide you on this exceptional journey of learning and discovery. We strive to provide our students with high-quality education, based on research and clinical practice, to prepare them to excel in their chosen fields. Equally important, we promote ethical and humanistic values that are fundamental in the practice of medicine.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education," said Martin Luther King Jr., and his words are just as relevant today.
Certainly, in classrooms and laboratories, you will learn a multitude of concrete things: medical practices and procedures, chemical compounds and reactions, anatomy and biological functions, and so on. But at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iași, we aim to teach you much more than that. In our vision, education means not only preparing you as specialists in various medical fields but also shaping you as individuals who will shape Romania's future. Nowadays, education means much more than hyper-specialization in a narrow field. Education also means having a broad and accurate perspective on the world we live in. It equally means adopting moral standards that will help you maintain your integrity when life tests you. Last but not least, education means acquiring and consolidating guiding principles that will define you as individuals in your families and in society. It is a modern and much-needed model of education in today's society, and it is one of the facets of excellence in education that the leadership of this university has taken as its primary mission over the past eight years.
Contemporary with us and the ever-changing world we live in, the American writer Alvin Toffler rightly anticipated that "the illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read, but the person who does not know how to learn." Never in its history has humanity had knowledge so readily available, as it does today. Information is no longer locked in dusty tomes in hard-to-reach libraries; most of the time, information is just a click away. The consequence of this truth is evident in the speed of scientific and technological progress in our times. If in the past scientific and technological breakthroughs were measured in epochs or later in centuries, today progress is measured in decades or even years, in some cases. A simple example, from a field that is undoubtedly familiar to you: the first electronic computing machine (now known as a computer) was called ENIAC, invented in 1945, and it filled a room. In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission achieved moon landing with the assistance of a computer that today would not be powerful enough to run the most basic application on your phone. In the 1970s, the foundation was laid for the first computer network, called ARPANET, which evolved into the Internet we know today. And today, we have the chance to witness a new technological leap in real-time: artificial intelligence, now accessible enough to be integrated on a large scale in various fields of production, research, technological development, and even medical practice.
This is the world in which you, today's students and tomorrow's professionals, will practice. It is clear that in such a world, learning must be a continuous process if you want to remain competitive. And for this continuous effort to be sustainable, you need to know how to learn effectively. Therefore, together with my colleagues in the academic staff, we aim not only to teach you medicine but also to instill in you the ability to learn on your own, to cultivate a constant curiosity and the drive for self-improvement. As the Rector, I assure you of the continuous commitment of the University's leadership to support you in this endeavor, by providing conditions and study facilities at the level of academic excellence we aspire to in our University.
Being a student is not just about learning and research. Your years of study are also an opportunity to build relationships, develop your communication skills, engage in extracurricular activities, and directly contribute to the well-being and reputation of our academic community. I encourage you to get involved as much as possible in the activities of student organizations, volunteering, and social projects to grow as individuals and contribute to the common good. I assure you that in time, you will find that all this effort was more than worthwhile.
So, I warmly welcome all 1,431 freshmen in the Romanian-language teaching programs and the 596 fresh students in the English and French language programs, as well as the 190 first-year master's students and 124 first-year doctoral students. Welcome to "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iași! We have a long journey ahead of us. It won't be easy, but it will be beautiful and interesting to discover together the complexity of the medical, dental, nursing, physiotherapy, pharmaceutical, or bioengineering professions.
Dear colleagues in the teaching staff of "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy,
We embarked on a common path together in 2016. Together, we formed a team, and you entrusted me with the honor of leading a University with a history of almost 150 years, on a path defined by the phrase "excellence in education." I assure you that this has been the priority path in my daily life, and I have followed it with utmost consistency.
It is a path that has not always been easy. Together, we successfully navigated through a pandemic that overnight required us to radically change the way we were accustomed to teaching in a medical school. We did it exceptionally, and our University was among the first in Romania to shift the entire teaching process online. I thank you once again for the extraordinary adaptability you demonstrated.
Together, we also celebrated all the happy moments that our University has experienced over the past 7 years, including the inauguration of the "Nicolae Leon" building, the largest expansion of our University's heritage since 1989, and the opening of the "Professor Cristian Dragomir" Simulation Center, which is now part of our teaching activities. We will continue this year with a series of investments aimed at providing the support needed to achieve the goal we have set: academic excellence. And because we are at the beginning of a new academic year, it is the right time for a quick overview of the medium and short-term investment plans that the University has, with an impact on both our academic community and the local community.
Thus, the consolidation, rehabilitation, and modernization of the Pediatric Dentistry Polyclinic are very close to completion. This is a project started in the spring of 2019, which will significantly improve both the quality of teaching conducted there and the impact of the services we offer to the community.
The Fundamental Research Center, another major project of the University, is in the final stages of documentation, before the start of actual construction work, which is estimated to take 36 months from the issuance of the building permit.
We are continuing the process of renovating and modernizing the infrastructure of the university campus this year. This time, it is the C9 dormitory that will benefit from interior refurbishments and a new facade. The C10 dormitory is next in line for extensive rehabilitation.
The redesign of the central hall of the main building of the University, a project designed to reflect the architectural blend of tradition and modernism that characterizes our University, has been completed. Additionally, we have completed the implementation of a comprehensive fire safety system in the Main Building of the University, an investment required by the safety standards for public institutions, to which our University has now aligned.
The necessary documentation for the consolidation, rehabilitation, and modernization project of the Sports Hall (formerly known as "1 Decembrie") has advanced considerably. We have contracted the technical expertise services, with a contractual term of 120 days.
Also in an advanced stage of documentation and approval is the project for the renovation of the Anatomy Institute, which includes modifying the roof structure, creating a mezzanine, and renovating the façade. The Anatomy Institute is the most representative building in our University's heritage, with invaluable historical and architectural value. This is why the mentioned project is very complex in terms of documentation.
For the "Buţureanu" House, we have planned a consolidation and rehabilitation project that is also in the documentation and approval stage.
Among the projects currently in progress, in various stages of documentation and approval, I mention:
This is an up-to-date snapshot of the status of heritage investments at our University. Far from being an exhaustive list of short and medium-term investments at UMF Iași, the projects mentioned above are the ones we consider prioritized, in terms of their impact on teaching activities, the quality of life on campus, and the involvement we desire in the local community.
All these projects, and many more, represent new milestones on the path we committed to together in 2016, towards a common goal: excellence in education. So, we have much work to do ahead of us; the journey is far from its endpoint.
It will soon be your choice whether we continue this journey together.
Returning to the significance of today, as we are at the beginning of a new academic year, I wish you, dear students, the wisdom to prioritize your education above all other priorities. I also wish you to find the vocational spark within you that makes the difference between "very good" and "excellent," but remember that vocation and talent are attributes wasted in the absence of sustained study and hard work, day by day, semester by semester.
To my colleagues in the teaching staff, I wish you to find the patience and perseverance necessary in the classroom and the laboratory this year, and, equally, to feel the satisfaction of your work in the excellent results we expect from our students. This is, in essence, our purpose, our reason to be as teachers in a medical school.
Together, professors and students, we constitute a community, a living organism. This community, which reaches 926 teaching staff, 9,908 students, 359 master's students, 508 doctoral students, and 3,947 resident physicians, exists and expresses itself through each of its components. Only by working together, by constantly collaborating to achieve the academic goals we have set, can we add weight every day, bit by bit, to our common name: "Grigore T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iași. It is truly a source of pride but also a tremendous responsibility to be part of our academic community. I thank you for this honor and wish you success in continuing the mission we have undertaken together: excellence in academic education.
I would not like to conclude without a thought for the academic community in Iași: we are starting a new stage in the partnership between the universities in Iași. We aim to develop a common vision and adopt a unified approach in essential sectors, such as scientific research, to bring significant benefits to both the academic environment in Iași and the local community.
I wish you an academic year full of achievements, inspiration, and satisfactions. May we have a wonderful year together, constantly growing and evolving!