The University of Bucharest requests the decision-makers to limit the mandates of rectors to two terms, totaling a maximum of 8 years.
The University of Bucharest considers that any modern public university must be organized and function as a democracy of equals, where power is managed collectively and cannot be seized by a single person entrusted with leadership only temporarily by the academic community. As such, the University of Bucharest stipulated clearly, unequivocally, in its own Charter, that “a person cannot be Rector for more than 8 years, regardless of the period in which the mandates took place, their interruptions and the circumstances in which these interruptions occurred” (Art. 120 par. 3).
The nature of democracy, as an imperfect form of organization, is clearly preferable to others, and the arguments in favor of it are well known from the Greek thinkers onwards. The history of political and organizational systems has provided many obvious confirmations both in the great democratic states of the world and in Romania. In contrast, the communist system pretended to be democratic, manifested itself in autocracy and dictatorship, and ended all over the world in revolutions.
We consider that, if rectors are voted by universal suffrage, as happens with the President of Romania, the number of rectors’ mandates must be limited. Also, the example of the President of the Romanian Academy, who in turn cannot have more than two mandates, is also very relevant to the model to be adopted by universities.
The demand for university autonomy, a fundamental principle of the functioning of universities in democratic states in determining the number of mandates, undoubtedly raises the question of the degree of influence, control and authority that a rector with three or more mandates has over the academic community and forums of collective decision, such as the University Senate. The authoritarian and discretionary models of vote control, of representatives at election congresses and leadership and decision-making forums, and finally of political parties, have been too socially visible in recent decades not to create real concern that they can be taken over from politics to Romanian universities. University autonomy must be accompanied by the public responsibility of universities in enhancing democratic values in society and, even more so, within academic communities.
On the other hand, we draw attention to the fact that one of the maneuvers used by those who are now trying to become permanent rectors is that the law does not decide for the past, but for the future, so the number of mandates, even if it will be limited, will have to be counted from zero, with the adoption of the new legislation on Education. We believe that the Higher Education Law must clearly state, as the University of Bucharest did in its own Charter, that a limit of 8 years in office is established, regardless of the period in which the mandates took place, their interruptions and of the circumstances in which these interruptions occurred.
We strongly believe that our arguments will be widely accepted by Romanian society, by students, by most professors and researchers. We are in solidarity with the university management of the “Lucian Blaga” University in Sibiu, and we ask other universities in Romania to join us in supporting this endeavor.
“What strong university is one in which a single member of the community ends up being “irreplaceable” by any of the hundreds or thousands of colleagues? A healthy university is one that naturally ensures the transfer of power and authority between members of the academic community to create an environment of democratic decision-making and collegial leadership. A leader-rector knows that it is his duty to train and support competent and dedicated colleagues, who will carry forward the university’s projects and connect it to good international academic practices: vice-rectors, deans, vice-deans, department directors. How good, as a leader, can a rector be considered if he tells all his colleagues that no one can replace him and keeps unlimited power in his own hands?”, declares Marian Preda, Rector of the University of Bucharest.
The Universities, the training “crucibles” of future social, political, economic, community leaders, cannot step down from democratic principles, cannot fulfill their true mission and cannot claim to apply them in society if they do not promote them in their own academic life.