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The tranquil succession

Governor Geraldo Alckmin quickly appointed the Foundation's new executives

FAPESP is experiencing between this end of year and the beginning of 2005 an unprecedented but undeniably tranquil and mature process for the simultaneous replacement of some of its executives and counselors, with effects, incidentally, on other important institutions of the São Paulo state science and technology system. Accordingly, last November 17, Governor Geraldo Alckmin appointed Marcos Macari, pro-rector for Post-graduation and Research of the São Paulo State University (Unesp) and a candidate for being the rector of the institution, a vice-president of the Foundation; Ricardo Renzo Brentani, today the director-president of the Cancer Hospital and of the São Paulo Ludwig Institute, to the position of director-president of the Executive Board (CTA); and Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, the current rector of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the Foundation’s scientific director – all three are members of FAPESP’s Board of Directors (CS).

The governor’s choice, made from triple lists forwarded by the CS on November 10, involves Unicamp, which at this point of time has now started the process for electing the new rector who will replace Brito. To a no doubt milder degree it is also affecting the University of São Paulo (USP), whose University Council should shortly forward a triple list for the governor to chose the name of FAPESP’s new counselor, to replace Brentani, since he was one of the three of the traditional quota from this university on the Foundation’s CS.

And, of course, it also alters FAPESP’s board itself, with the replacement of two of its 12 members – Macari remains on the board. It is worth noting that the second vacancy opened up on the board is one of the quota of six that are filled by names freely chosen by the governor. The board has also scheduled for December another ballot, this time for drawing up the triple list for administrative director, because the current mandate of Joaquim J. de Camargo Engler ends in February.

Unforeseen events and resolutions
All these changes result from a combination of unforeseen events and personal decisions. The former and the latter converged on an alteration in the Foundation’s top echelons that was unthinkable at the beginning of this year. First, there was sudden death of Francisco Romeu Landi, at the age of 72, on April 22, which opened up the vacancy for director president. In mourning, the Foundation, by decision of its president, Carlos Vogt, based on a consultation with the Board of Trustees, postponed for some time the voting of the triple list for the post. Then, in July, the mandate of the Foundation’s vice-president, Paulo Eduardo de Abreu Machado, came to an end. The board then decided that it would vote the two triple lists in August. But, precisely at this meeting, the scientific director, José Fernando Perez, whose mandate was to end in December 2005, announced that he was resigning from his position, after having matured the decision to start an experience in the private sector, to carry on from there, in a new form, contributing towards the scientific and technological development of the country.

This was how the dimensions of the changes through which the top echelons of the Foundation were to pass expanded, and the board decided to command the succession process on the level of the challenge posed, with ample consultation with the scientific community. It set up a Search and Selection Committee, which would receive the indications from the community and would organize the forwarding of the lists of candidates to the board. With ten candidates for director-president and 11 for scientific director, the process was concluded on November 11.  “The triple lists forwarded to the governor reflected a consistent institutional desire of FAPESP, through its Board of Directors, and the governor chose names that we regard as being of great academic, scientific and intellectual prominence”, says the president, Carlos Vogt. “They are names that are highly representative in constructing the conditions for increasingly better scientific, technological and cultural development in São Paulo and in Brazil.”

New challenges
Indeed, just a few lines from the intellectual biographies of those appointed suffice to sustain Carlos Vogt’s claim. Physicist Brito Cruz, for example, FAPESP’s president from 1996 to 2002, the year in which he took up the rectorship at Unicamp, is one of the respected specialists in policies for scientific and technological development, without having abandoned the activities of a researcher in his area. An electronic engineer by the Technological Institute of Aeronautics, a master and doctor by the Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute at Unicamp, where he began his career in 1982, at the age of 26, and which he ran on two occasions.

Brito understands that the science and technology system in the state has to be supported by three pillars: the training of human resources, academic research, and research in companies. ?The first is essential, because without prepared personnel there is no production of knowledge. The second is fundamental, because it makes human knowledge advance in a disinterested manner, and, at the same time, trains people. And the third is vital, because it transforms knowledge into wealth?, he sums up.

Brentani, 67 years, a doctor graduated from USP’s School of Medicine, where he has been chair professor since 1981, a doctor in biochemistry, also by USP, is the author of a respectable list of 119 scientific articles published in international periodicals. Besides running the A. C. Camargo Cancer Hospital and the Ludwig Institute, amongst other activities, he coordinates the Antonio Prudente Cancer Research and Treatment Center.

FAPESP’s tranquil financial situation, after the turbulence experienced in 2002, and the computerization of the processing of scholarships and grants, which will bring agility, “besides increasing the security of the community in relation to the prompt judgment of their requests”, are two positive points for anyone taking up an executive position with the Foundation today. Brentani observes that he still has to get his bearings in things, but he points out  “the very fine work by Landi in the organization of the forum of the state foundations for fostering research from all over the country”, which he would like to continue.

Finally, Marcos Macari, 54 years old, graduated in biological sciences from USP, with a doctorate in physiology from USP’s Faculty of Medicine in Ribeirão Preto and with postdoctoral studies at the Agricultural Research Council of Cambridge, England, the University of Yamagushi, Japan, and at Université Laval, Canada, is today, besides a pro-rector at the São Paulo State University (Unesp), and the chair professor of the Animal Morphology and Physiology Department of the School of Agrarian Sciences of this same university at Jaboticabal.

Macari believes that FAPESP will increasingly have the function of supporting the production of basic knowledge aimed at interaction with the productive sector, “which is vital, because nobody is going to pass on to us gratuitously the technologies that we lack for the development of our country”. This, however, should take place without the Foundation disregarding “its humanistic side, supporting the human sciences”.