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Anales de la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas (Asunción)

versión impresa ISSN 1816-8949

An. Fac. Cienc. Méd. (Asunción) vol.50 no.1 Asunción abr. 2017 


A redefinition of academic merit is needed for changes

AL Cubilla1 

Profesor Emérito

1Profesor Emérito de la Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay

Student revolt had catalyzed significant changes in Latin American universities. Few year ago, after a student rebellion, we presented a proposal of changes to the Asamblea Universitaria of UNA without success. The last student crisis, typified by UNA-notecalles, identified the academic and corruption problems in the university indicating the need for profound philosophical and structural changes. We need a new vision which facilitates scientific research as a central university mission.

Meritocracy does not exist in our institution, although is part of a requirement for admitting and promoting professors. We need to re defined the academic merit towards one in which merit is associated with intellectual and scientific production, which are easily demonstrable after the evaluation of the quantity and quality of publications. This approach would favor a competitive model where academic positions of hierarchy are given to the most productive professors and not necessarily to the older ones. The approach would prevent endogamy, nepotism and favoritism for political reasons, all present now and destroying the university ethos.

The proposed model would eliminate the closed career ladder where professor are rigidly and automatically promoted according to time trends and not on real merit. This closed system prevents the younger and the best to ascend the academic scale and favors mediocre teachers over brilliant candidates. The new model would permit the brightest to be promoted directly to the category which is related to his scientific production. There are examples of brilliant young professors that were appointed at young age, like Dr Benacerraf, Venezuelan pathologist, Chairman at Harvard Medical School at 30 year old, who few years later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. A productive older professor should not be afraid of younger competitors, however an unproductive senior professor could be replaced by a more productive younger professional. This sort of academic Darwinism is typical of the great research universities. The system permits that the most talented individuals are appointed in the higher positions. Seniority becomes less important and the parameter to be followed is the intellectual production

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