Three questions to Dean Lewis, President of the University of Bordeaux
Dean Lewis, aged 56, Professor of electronics, was elected President of the University of Bordeaux by the Executive Board on Monday January 24, 2022. He succeeds Manuel Tunon de Lara, who has headed the institution since 2014. Dean Lewis hopes for a presidency focusing resolutely on the university community, both staff and students.
What are your aims for your term as President of the University of Bordeaux?
While continuing with the major themes set out when the University of Bordeaux was created, it is my aim to give more consideration to societal issues and in particular to create conditions in which each and every one of us, staff and students, can feel involved in this collective goal.
Naturally, my job is to consolidate our University’s growth and our proudly won position: we are a major multidisciplinary institution, firmly embedded in our region but with considerable international visibility, providing attractive training courses, backed by top-class innovative research. In these areas, the main challenges will be to develop made-to-measure course offers that focus on student success, to further strengthen inter- or transdisciplinary approaches, responding to societal challenges and well-coordinated with our academic partners, local authorities and the socio-economic world.
As well as these key missions, I am particularly keen to focus strongly on new directions related to environmental and societal transitions, support for the university community in its missions and employment protection.
Last fall, I went out to meet our different communities and from these discussions I realized that we have shared ambitions but that nevertheless there are significant difficulties encountered in the field.
By relying on a team of men and women from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and with a range of complementary skills, my aim is to strengthen the cohesion of our university community so that the University of Bordeaux can play its role in society to the full.
What new challenges will you have to meet, and how will you do this?
There is an important step to take in environmental and societal transitions, on the one hand mobilizing the university community to respond to the climate emergency, and on the other proposing new mechanisms to promote parity, diversity and equality, and finally, setting out a comprehensive policy dealing with questions of ethics, professional conduct and scientific integrity.
For example, we intend to set up a new “Transitions Institute” responsible for coordinating programs and initiatives related to this field at university level and creating a network of campuses that are experimental, lively, supportive and open to society.
Another of my priorities is to promote the well-being of the university community,both staff and students, in their work and their studies, by bringing back to the fore the culture of service rendered and the proper adaptation of our work environments and tools, in order to carry out our missions. Our key objectives will be to strengthen a feeling of belonging and promote personal achievement, through listening to each other and adopting a truly participative approach. An exploratory phase will probably first be necessary, for a better understanding of the issues and limitations specific to each profession and each work environment.
We will then be able to put concrete responses into practice collectively and monitor their progress.
A third objective is to limit the negative impact of the underfunding of universities, especially regarding payroll.
With the exception of registration fees, because I remain firmly attached to equitable access to higher education, I intend to use all possible financial mechanisms (optimization of budgetary parameters over the long term, diversification of resources, interim schemes to access tenured positions, etc.) to reduce any negative impact on tenured employment as a result of the State’s not funding payroll increases for career advancement, seniority and technological upgrading (GVT).
What type of president do you want to be?
I have worked at the University of Bordeaux for almost 30 years. I am very much attached to this place, to all my fellow colleagues, to the values it upholds and the diversity of its activities. I am ready to bring all my experience to bear, to create a dynamic community of dialogue and creativity.
I hope to be a president who is accessible, at the service of all the communities that make up the University of Bordeaux, president of a committed university working within society. I hope to combine diligence and compassion in everything I do.