A new academic year marked by innovation

The opening ceremony for the academic year 2023-24 counted on the presence of the new archbishop of Madrid and the new provincial


The opening ceremony for the academic year 2023-24 counted on the presence of the new archbishop of Madrid and the new provincial

The opening ceremony for the academic year 2023-24 counted on the presence of the new archbishop of Madrid and the new provincial

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As every year, the opening ceremony marked the start of this academic year at Comillas Pontifical University. The act brought some novelties. The solemn mass prior to the academic ceremony was presided, for the first time, by the new archbishop of Madrid, Monsignor José Cobo Cano. It was also the first institutional act at Comillas for the new provincial of Spain of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Enric Puiggròs Llavinés, SJ.

The academic ceremony began with a speech by the general secretary and vice rector for International Relations, Federico de Montalvo, who mentioned some of the main milestones from the academic report of the previous academic year, summarised in a video.

Rafael Vara, lecturer at the faculty of Economics and Business Administration (Comillas ICADE) and executive director of the new Madrid Culinary Campus (MACC), was in charge of the inaugural lecture. Under the title “Where progress is cooked”, the head of our new university project combining training, creation and gastronomic exchange promoted by Comillas and Vocento, reviewed the evolution of the university throughout history and its impact on the world, emphasising the role of humanities and describing some of the main challenges that the institution faces. “Our university has always been a pioneer. The MACC has been born along the same lines, an initiative that follows the standard of the Society of Jesus, offering training where it is most needed," he said.

Part of the progress
A big part of his speech was dedicated to lecturers, an important ingredient in an entrepreneurial university. “We must know that being part of the university sector means being part of the progress of the society in which we live,” he added. “Even more so in an Ignatian university, in which we assume the big responsibility to educate men for others, leaders to serve, leaders who care about society.”

Vara also talked about the main ingredient of any university: its students. Vara referred to Comillas as "his home" and to vocation as "a treasure" that "will make you successful and ensure that your life is fulfilled," he said. "This will demand self-discipline, initiative, integrity, generosity and critical thinking, but it will make your daily effort a constant source of happiness," he concluded, addressing the new students.

Innovation at the centre
The rector of the university, Enrique Sanz, SJ, began his speech by mentioning the novelties of the ceremony and the academic year. After thanking Monsignor José Cobo and Fr. Enric Puiggròs Llavinés, SJ, for their presence, and Rafael Vara for his intervention and leading the MAAC, he highlighted one of the main innovations of the academic year: a new museum dedicated to the history of Comillas, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the university's coming to Madrid. He also mentioned the renovation and expansion of spaces, the acquisition of new facilities and the launching of the new website. All of this, he pointed out, "will help us better explain who we are and what we do".

He also talked about the EuPeace project (European University for Peace, Justice and Inclusive Societies) of which Comillas is a member along with eight other European universities and which will be launched in the coming months. “We want all these novelties to have an innovation character, so that over the following months they make an impact on all of the people who make up the university community.”

The rector recalled that, despite the size limitations, Comillas is a university with a high research capacity, committed to the comprehensive education of its students. “Their comprehensive education means that our words make room for those in front of us, that we talk about topics that affect us all. Those are the means to search for a truth that harmonises content, values and habits. This is part of our rich tradition and part of our 23-24 academic year.” He concluded, quoting Pope Francis at the final Mass of the WYD in Lisbon last August.