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Francisco Romeu Landi

Obstinate Constructor

Francisco Romeu Landi, director of FAPESP, was a specialist in gathering talents together to resolve S&T issues

Francisco Romeu Landi, director-president of FAPESP’s Executive Board, died on April 22, at the age of 71. He left an extensive and successful biography, a diary full of commitments, and many fond memories.Landi was the founder and president of the National Forum of Research Support Foundations (FAPs in the Portuguese acronym) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Strategic Management and Studies Center (CGEE), of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT).

At the invitation of Minister Eduardo Campos, of Science and Technology, he was getting ready to join the team responsible for the organization of the 2nd National Science and Technology Conference; he was negotiating the representation of the FAPs on the National Science and Technology Council; and he was accompanying closely the production and publication of the 2003 State of São Paulo Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators, which will be launched by FAPESP in the next few months.

He was taking personal care of the homage that FAPESP will pay to Alberto Carvalho da Silva, on May 13, who, like Landi, was a director-president of the Foundation. In August, as a special guest, he was to open, in London, the world congress of the International Union of Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Associations (Iuappa).

A week before his death, he was in Chile, representing the Foundation at the inauguration ceremony of the Soar (Southern Observatory for Astrophysical Research) telescope, a project that was funded by FAPESP. On the afternoon of the 22nd , he took part in a meeting of the Foundation?s Executive Board, at which he detailed the regulations of the Board of Trustees, loosening up the exclusive dedication of scholarship holders (see the note on page 27). He left FAPESP in the evening, bought some bread at the baker?s, and died, victim of a heart attack, on the way home, where he lived with his wife Marísia. Without tergiversation and discretely, as ever.

The wake was held at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP), the institution where he was educated and of which he was a full professor and director. Hundreds of friends paid him the last of so many expressions of homage that he had in his life. In 2003, his 70th birthday was celebrated with a symposium, organized by USP?s History of Science Interunity Center, which had as his theme one of his obsessions: Funding the research and development of the Brazilian nation , the annals of which will be published shortly by the Institution of Technological Researches (IPT), an institution of which Landi was a vice-president.

In 2000, he received the title of Eminent Engineer of the Year, from the Engineering Institute; in 1999, the title of Chevalier dans l´Ordres de Palmes Académiques, from France?s Ministry of National Education in Research and Technology, besides the Professor of the Year awarded, granted by the Polytechnic School; in 1998, he received the Research and Education Personality Trophy, from the State of São Paulo Engineers? Union; and in 1992, that of Knight of the Order of Naval Merit, from the Brazilian Navy.

An engineer specialized in the aspects of physics in buildings and in thermodynamics, Landi, who was born in the state of São Paulo on March 22,1933, dedicated over 50 years of his life to the Polytechnic School. As an educator, he formed generations of students, including his three children, Paula, Fernando, and Francisco, all of them engineers. He was always guided by the principle that technology has a profound repercussion on society and is a crucial element for social changes. He recognized the indispensable role of the State in the formulation of public policies to stimulate innovation.

And he dreamt of the knowledge society “without frontiers, dynamic, democratic”. “It will be a society of seniors and juniors, and not of bosses and subordinates”, he foresaw in his talk, during the seminar that commemorated his 70th birthday, joining his ideas to those of Peter Drucker. “Engineers will need a double or even multiple culture vision”, he warned. “I am worried about training engineers in a society that is transforming itself so rapidly.

How does one organize an engineering course in which we have to teach technologies that have not yet been created? In what way should we complete the education of the engineer with behavioral psychology, teamwork, entrepreneurism, and citizenship, so as to face up to the new challenges that appear?” he would ask. And he went after an answer: he dived headfirst in the Poly 2015 project, which has as its goal the transformation of the Polytechnic School, to keep it as a national and international benchmark in university teaching, research, and extension.

Landi himself was a humanist. He made “a sort of go-between ” between human sciences and engineering, in the words of Shozo Motoyama, a director of USP?s History of Science Interunity Center. He planned education in the same scenario as science and technology. Hence his nimbleness in moving in such apparently disparate areas.”The history of the consolidation of the institutes of higher education in Brazil and, in particular, in São Paulo, is profoundly bound up with Landi?s work”, says Carlos Vogt, FAPESP?s president. “This was reflected in his work as a director of the Poly and in his presence at almost all the functions of management at FAPESP, where he had a prominent role in complying with the institution?s social objectives, that is to say, in the regular and systematic support for the development of science and technology.”

His determination and extreme cordiality set the tone of his work, both inside and outside FAPESP. Landi was tenacious. In 1996, answering an appeal from the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC), he started the organization of the Research Support Foundations Forum. “In those days, there were ten FAPs in the whole of the country, today there are 22. Only Roraima, Rondônia, Amapá, Tocantins, and Espírito Santo are missing”, reckoned Landi, in his last interview for the Pesquisa FAPESP magazine, in March. At the same time that he was implanting the system, he fought for the administrative and financial autonomy of the foundations and for respect for the passing on of funds provided for in the State Constitutions. “The law has to berespected”, he would say with indignation.

For Jorge Bounassar Filho, the president of the Araucaria Foundation (the FAP of Paraná), his ease of relationship and leadership contributed, for him to organize the foundations at the national level. Landi was “the right man, in the right place”. So much so, that he was elected unanimously for his second term in the command of the Forum of the FAPs. “Landi was a great leader. He had the sensitivity to address social issues and to understand the difficulties of the sector. With determination, he always set his sights on permanent results”, explains Acácio Salvador Véras e Silva, the president of the State of Piauí Research Support Foundation (Fapepi).

“He had the profile of an engineer, but he was a humanist”, adds José Geraldo de Freitas Drumond, the president of the State of Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation (Fapemig). “Our Forum will never be the same again”, claims Marcos Brasileiro, the president of the State of Paraíba Research Support Foundation.Landi was a member of FAPESP?s Board of Trustees for five years and its president in 1995 and 1996, before taking up the job of director-president, in 1996. “The position of director-president calls for personal qualities that were his: liaison and the power to integrate”, says José Fernando Perez, FAPESP?s scientific director.

In the period when he was at the head of the Foundation, Landi guided his action on the basis of two of the institution?s prerogatives provided for in its statutes: the making public of scientific knowledge, and the periodical carrying out of studies about the general state of research in São Paulo and in Brazil, as well as historical studies and studies assessing the impact of researches on society that could act as an instrument for formulating scientific and technological policy.

One result of the first of these prerogatives ? the making public of scientific knowledge ? is the Pesquisa FAPESP magazine itself. Started in 1995 as the Notícias FAPESP bulletin, with four pages and a print run of a thousand copies, aimed at São Paulo researchers, it was in Landi?s term of office as director president, to whom the communication sector was subordinated, that the publication was actually transformed into a magazine, and, as such, began to grow. In the four yours for which it was Notícias FAPESP ? before an editorial board was set up and the magazine became a special project linked to the Scientific Directorate ? it was he who would read all the issues of the newsletter.

In his view, the articles would be good when he could be capable of reading, with pleasure, about any subject and without any difficulty in understanding. This criterion has guided the steps of the magazine in its growth. He also coordinated the publication of the booksVigor e inovação na pesquisa brasileira (Vigor and innovation in Brazilian research) , andDo laboratório à sociedade ( From the lab to society) , bringing articles about the results of thematic projects financed by FAPESP.

It was also Landi who encouraged studies in the area of the history of science and brought about the publication of books likeFAPESP; uma história de política científica e tecnológica ( FAPESP: a history of scientific and technological policy) , and (FAPESP marcos documentais FAPESP: documentary landmarks) , which reconstitutes FAPESP?s creation and work up until 1998.

“Documenting the history of the State of São Paulo Research Foundation” ? hewrote in the preface to the book ? “is a way of getting to know and of preserving the memory of the men who, since the beginning of the 40s, thought out and conceived this institution ? scientists, engineers, politicians, and public administrators. It is a way of reviewing the ideas that guided its creation and consolidation. And also a way of reflecting on a victorious model for managing a scientific and technological policy proposed by the scientists themselves.”

But Landi was thinking about Brazil. The books50 anos do CNPq contados pelos seus presidentes (50 years of the CNPq told by its presidents ), with testimony and interviews with directors of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, andPrelúdio para uma história: ciência e tecnologia no Brasil (Prelude to a history: science and technology in Brazil) ? to be launched shortly in a joint FAPESP/Edusp publication ? are examples of this.”Publishing the testimony of people who have been at the center of event helps one to understand the reason for the objectives defined by those institutions. They have the flavor of understanding the internal and external struggles that took root, and, above all, to realize that these struggles were won, or rather, why they were won”, he claimed, in the preface to the 50 years of the CNPq book.

The implantation in FAPESP of a sector responsible for the production of science and technology in São Paulo was also one of his works. He thought that organizing a broad database with the situation of science and technology would make it possible to plan actions of policy and investment. He coordinated the production and publication of the Indicators of 1998 and of 2003, and he was accompanying the 2003 edition. It was also Laudi who was responsible for developing and coordinating the Electronic Library Program (ProBE), which originated the Periodicals Portal of Capes – the Committee for Postgraduate Courses in Higher Education. It was also he who coordinated the project for creating the Documentation and Information Center (CDI), computerized and now being implanted, which gathers together the database contained the whole of FAPESP?s memory.