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Marist Bulletin - Number 124

 

Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná
12/12/2004

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Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto,
Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, Brazil
HERE ALL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION,
MUST PURSUE A PROGRAM OF SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT

Br. Lluís Serra

Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto, 63, was born in São José dos Pinhais, Paraná, Brazil. He belongs to the Marist Province of Central-Southern Brazil. He has a Licentiate in Mathematics from the State University of Ponta Grossa and in Pedagogy from the Pontifical Catholic University of Río Grande del Sur. He obtained a Masters in Higher Education and another in University Planning at Columbia University, New York, where he was awarded a Doctorate in University Administration. He is a postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, USA. He has devoted his life to teaching and educational administration. Currently he is Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, Brazil (PUCPR).


In the city of Curitiba, famous for the beauty of its parks, is found the splendid campus of your University. Can you give us some facts on the University so that we can better understand its context?
“PUCPR” has existed since 1959; so it’s now 44 years old. It came to birth in Curitiba (State of Paraná), as a group of Faculties maintained by different religious orders and the Archdiocese of Curitiba. Today, our University possesses four campuses in four different cities of this State, offering 51 different university study programs. It has 1,300 professors and 25,000 students, as well as 5 university hospitals.

What special interest does University education hold for Marist Brothers?
In Curitiba, the Marist Brothers have been involved in university education since 1942, when they opened the first Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Literature. The objective was to provide pedagogical formation for the Brothers who worked in primary and secondary schools. The Faculty was also open to lay people who became more numerous as time went on.
In 1950, this Faculty was given to the Government to facilitate the creation of the Federal University of Paraná. That same year the Brothers began another Faculty of Philosophy, Science and Literature, which was to give rise to the Catholic University.
In 1974, the Brothers took over from the Archdiocese the property and responsiblity for the University, and began construction of the Curitiba campus.
The Marist Institute was founded by St Marcellin Champagnat for involvement in the area of Christian education of children and young people. This naturally extends to university education, although up till now the Brothers’ involvement has for the most part concentrated on children and youth in the primary and secondary sectors. The last stage of youth education—some would say the most important and decisive—is that which takes place at University level. The university is a privileged field for leadership formation in the profesional and social areas.

What is the atmosphere here like between the professors, and between professors and students?
There is an atmosphere of growing cooperation between the professors. In order to implement the “apprenticeship programs”, which have now replaced the old subject-based currícula, the professors of a given group of students plan and implement academic activities as a team.
Since the year 2000, the date of commencing this new pedagogical project, the teaching of isolated and independent subjects no longer occurs.
Of course, teachers had to be prepared to implement this new methodology. One result is that professors are forced to work in closer proximity to the students, and to adopt more practical approaches. The students for their part are motivated to work as a team in a spirit of greatly enhanced cooperation.

What influence does its “Pontifical” character have on the University? Would this mean that the dialogue between faith and culture, so strongly espoused by the Pope, would be strongly emphasized?
The criteria defining a Catholic University are basically the same as those of a Pontifical University, insofar as both accept the obligation to respect the principles and directives of the Church.
The “Pontifical” status refers to the official recognition conferred on the University by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. This title also confers an international status. For this reason, the statutes of a Pontifical University must be approved by the Vatican, as must also the election of the Rector.
The diocesan archbishop or bishop is normally the Grand Chancellor of a Pontifical University. This position confers on him the right and duty to ensure the orthodoxy of teaching in the theological area. The PUCPR gained Pontifical recognition in 1985. It was the last Brazilian university to do so. In this country there are 18 Catholic universities, of which 6 are Pontifical.
I remember very well how, in 1984 when we were celebrating the University’s 25th anniversary, it was known as the Catholic University of Paraná. The Papal Nuncio to Brazil, Archbishop Carlo Furno, came to participate in the commemoration. Impressed by the University’s development, by the quality of its teaching, and by its social engagement, he asked me if it had pontifical status. Replying in the negative, I recalled there and then that this would mean Vatican-conferred degrees, I hinted to the Nuncio that perhaps, as the Pope’s ambassador, he would be able to do something in this matter.
He got my message, and asked me to prepare a dossier, taking it upon himself to further pursue the matter.
The following year, the Nuncio returned to Curitiba with Pontifical recognition for our University.
It was at this moment that the University Parish of “Jesus the Teacher” was created in order to deepen further the Catholic identity of the University.
In a Catholic University, and even more in a Pontifical, culture and faith must walk together. These two areas cannot be considered separate or antagonistic activities, but rather complementary, as the Holy Father insists.
It was the great scientist, Albert Einstein himself, who affirmed something very similar when he stated that: “religión without science is blind; and science without religión is crippled.”
At PUCPR, all professors receive the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae on Catholic Universities, and declare in writing that they know its contents and are in agreement with its prescriptions.
The dialogue between science and faith is expressed in many forms and through diverse activities in the University: contributing to the University Parish, pastoral action in favour of students and professors, spiritual retreats, pastoral and health services in our hospitals, study-seminars and debates, social and community activities.
As an example, let me mention the “PUCPR Identity Project”, which gathers together groups of about 150 professors, functionaries, doctors, nurses and other health professionals, according to areas of common action. These groups will then reflect on the characteristics and principles of a Catholic University or Hospital, and their application within this Institution. It is a sort of an “academic retreat” lasting two days. This year more than 1000 personnel will participate in such retreats, from among approximately the 5000 who currently work in our University and its hospitals.

You offer professional formation in the different specialties. But do you have a programme directed to forming your graduates in professional ethics?
Saint Marcellin Champagnat insisted that our Marist schools ought to prepare good Christians and virtuous citizens. At PUCPR, we endeavour to form competent professionals to take their place in an ever more competitive world of work.
We also insist on the formation of responsible citizens, possessed of a spirit of solidarity and ethical sensitivity. These requirements are indispensable for truly Christian action in the social, familial, and professional life of our day. With a view to such formation, the University includes in the curriculum path of each of the specialties offered, units of theology, philosophy, morality and professional ethics.

Brazil is a country of contrasts. Isn’t there a danger that your students, cloistered with their books and research topics, may easily forget the street-children, who were so dear to St Marcellin?
Certainly Brazil is a country of contrasts. At PUCPR we are aware that the country will not overcome its great social divides in the foreseeable future through the force of government alone. The commitment of institutions and of people of good will is also essential. This is all the more true for Christians whose distinguishing mark is love of neighbour.
The PUCPR takes very seriously its position as a Catholic University, in addition to the recommendations of Saint Marcellin and, in consequence, its philanthropic obligations and its engagement in the social sphere.
The University implements many activities in favour of the needy and less favoured. Among them we may mention: The “Young Apprentice Programme”, which offers food, professional preparation and employment for 30 adolescents from the favela next door; the fact of giving employment to hundreds of poor people from the same housing area; the provision of free health services to people of this needy location in a nearby community health centre run by the PUCPR; free service to needy people in our clinics of Dentistry, Psychology, Physiotherapy, Speech & Hearing and in the five University hospitals.
In addition, we have set up six nuclei of a community-environmental action programme (ProAção) to service the needs of people in locations near Curitiba and the coastal areas of Paraná State.
In 2002, some 700,000 service items were logged by the University, and of these the majority were in favour of needy people.
I should also single out the “Community Project”, through which all students, without exception, have to commit themselves to participation in some social programme, devoting 36 hours of work in some philanthrophic activity directed to needy people, especially children, adolescents, old or sick people. This activity is is an integral part of the study curriculum, and—as such—a requirement for the award of the PUCPR degree.
By means of this project, the University endeavours to educate its students in solidarity. We have here a pioneering initiative amongst Brazilian Universities. It is moving to see the esteem and dedication which the students themselves have for this programme, which began in 2002. Many emerge quite transformed after their experience of solidarity.

Since PURPR is a private University, the students themselves must meet the costs, in view of which it would have to be a class-conscious centre. Are you able to provide academic access to students who are economically less favoured?
In Brazil, a good part of the population in the highest economic bracket attends public Universities, in which no fees are charged.
The PUCPR is sought out as much by clients who have no difficulty in paying for their studies and who choose our University on account of the quality of education it offers, as by students from less favoured social classes who cannot find a place in the more selective public Universities.
For the needier students, the PUCPR offers the possibility of student grants. There is a Federal Government-sponsored grant programme which assists some 600 students.
The University itself also has its own programme of rotating credit which assists more than 1,500 needy students who, a year after graduation, begin to repay their bond, thus allowing another needy student to begin studies in his turn.
There are also various other forms of assistance, such as: total or partial scholarships, economic support for students who work in some sector of the University, or in enterprises which have a covenant with the University.
In 2002, students who received some type of assistance totalled 7,417: this is 36% of the entire student enrollment.

Can you give me three reasons why it’s worth coming to your University to study?
There are many more than three reasons why one would study at PUCPR: a serious, modern University, which is also beautifully built and very engaged in the future of its students.
However, to limit myself to your question, I’ll quote three reasons: 1) the high quality teaching it offers, together with a renewed pedagogical approach which guarantees a professionally competent graduate at the end of the course; 2) the Institution’s commitment to ethical formation in citizenship, with the provisión of many possibilities of involvement in extra-curricular activities; 3) the quality of academic and community life on campus, in an environment of respect and pleasing collaboration with professors and companions.

As Rector, what are you especially proud of?
There is a very wise saying which claims that “nobody is a good judge in his own case”. It is also said that a leader in whatver institution—and the Rector is no exception—ought to devote his energies to the things which he would want people to remember him for in ten years’ time.
I would be happy to be remembered as the Rector who sponsored the pedagogical and educational renewal of the PUC, and who raised the academic standard of both teachers and students; who expanded educational opportunities for youth through the opening of three new campuses of PUCPR in the interior of Paraná State; who committed himself to accentuating the Catholic and Marist character of the University; who promoted the social outreach of the University, since I am convinced that being in harmony with its surroundings is the best indication of a University’s true quality.

What are the main challenges which the future holds?
In a University, changes are slow, and rarely achieved in the short term. Just the same, there is much to do in consolidating priorities already in implementation. The main challenges have been listed in answer to the previous question.
I think the biggest challenge for the administration is to assure the establishment of infrastructural (and some other) conditions whereby the PUCPR will continue its transformation into a quality Catholic University in all respects, a university which will be the pride of all Marists and of the entire country.
Our institution is active in three main areas: education, health, and communication. This demands the scientific and academic consolidation of the main centre of Curitiba and the two new campuses recently opened.
Another challenge is the establishment of the Health campus, with the conclusión of the process of integrating the Alianza Salud PUCPR – Santa Casa, which includes the five teaching hospitals and the associated clinics, and finally, the consolidation of the LUMEN Communication Centre.

You also have a strong commitment in the field of communications media. What aims are you pursuing there?
We believe that education and communication have much in common. The educative process necessarily includes communication between persons. The media of social communication are powerful vehicles, directed not only to information and entertainment (as is normally the case), but also towards the ends of formation and the transmisión of values.
The communications media open the gates of the University to a large contingent of people who never have access to the University campus. In this way, the media of social communication amplify enormously the University’s field of influence.
For this reason, the PUCPR has three radio stations, a fortnightly science and culture newspaper, a video-production unit for REDE VIDA de Televisión (Catholic TV Network), TV LUMEN (an educational TV channel), and in 2003 it will launch an FM radio station pursuing cultural and educational objectives.

There is another Marist University of Pontifical status in Porto Alegre. What relations exist between these two educational centres?
The PUCRS of Porto Alegre is our big sister, and also a more consolidated University.
We are two Marist institutions with the same inspiration, though belonging to different Marist Provinces. We have the same ideals, and we have adopted a common educative philosophy in respect of professors and students. We have very cordial relations with each other. I believe there is still space for further enlarging and strengthening our exchange of bilateral cooperation in many common areas of action.

What is the University’s involvement in the sphere of ecology and environment?
An important area for the future of humanity is the preservation of the environment and, linked to this, environmental education.
Aware of this, the PUCPR is developing programmes in this area with the opening of six nuclei of “ProAção” (Programme for Community and Environmental Action) situated in Paranagua, Guaraqueçaba, Guaratuba, Fazenda Rio Grande, São José dos Pinhais, and Tijucas do Sul.
In these nuclei the University is joining its social activity in favour of these poor communities with the promotion of their integral development.
In the nucleus of Tijucas do Sul, the PUCPR, in association with the philantrophic association Sergius Erdelyi – “IFSE” – is condsolidating an environmental complex “Vivat Floresta”, which embraces the protection of wild animals, reforestation programmes, production of organic food, environmental research, and the establishment of ecological parks.

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