vivaldi-foro-rectoresProf. Ennio Vivaldi Véjar
President of the University of Chile

Panama, April 10, 2015.

We deeply appreciate the initiative of the President of Panama, enthusiastically supported by all the nations of the Americas, to summon to the First Forum of University Presidents themed: "Prosperity and Education: the Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas - The Role of Universities," held in the framework of the VII Summit of the Americas. This meeting reaffirms our universities’ special commitment to the development of their peoples, which dates back to the origin of our republics. Consequently, we request that this forum is maintained in the space of all future summits to strengthen mechanisms for mutual collaboration and fluency in interaction with the state, civil society, academia and other productive sectors to enable the design of public policies.

Our Forum focused on three themes: "Academic Mobility", "Technology and Innovation" and "Sustainable Economic Development". In the first subset, a proposal to create a Network of Academic Mobility, which becomes an essential tool of academic life, was discussed. This network should be taken over by governments as a priority in the integration process of the Americas. Consequently, we propose that the Presidents and Heads of Government of the American nations commit to creating and funding a hemispheric plan of mobility for undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, and researchers. Our ultimate goal must be to create an interrelated system of academic equivalences, such as those already achieved in other continents.

In the "Technology and Innovation" subset, the priority to reduce the gap of appropriation in the use of technology among and within our countries was introduced. Connectivity between universities must be enhanced, as a vehicle with a geared towards promoting a comprehensive and efficient technology transfer and greater equity in the access to information.

Lastly, the "Sustainable Economic Development" subset focused on how universities should work with the State and the economic sector in the necessary and urgent progress from economies limited to the exploitation of natural resources and extractive labor, towards knowledge-based economies. Effective mechanisms must be generated so that the universities’ human capital is available and can support innovation in the public and private sectors, promoting applied research to contribute to solve the needs of our people. The incorporation of new technologies, respect for ecosystems and the development of alternative energy sources must be integrated harmoniously to society. We should aim to propose mechanisms that propitiate companies to finance these initiatives. Evaluation metrics should be created to asses our own university endeavors both for its universal value, as for its relevance to our local realities.

Reducing inequality, promoting inclusion, and insuring quality, with respect to the multicultural nature of our people are all essential factors for development.. We must identify ways to definitively eliminate segregating models of elitist education and strengthen public, free and quality education for all.