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Sodalitium Christianae Vitae - English / News  / Interview with the rector of UCSP: “train better people to work for a better world”

Interview with the rector of UCSP: “train better people to work for a better world”

Last June, the San Pablo Catholic University (UCSP) celebrated its twenty-sixth anniversary since its foundation. Due to this special occasion, we share an interview with Dr. Alonso Quintanilla Pérez-Wicht, who returned to the position of rector in June 2022 after 11 years.

Alonso Quintanilla at the San Pablo Catholic University.

Alonso Quintanilla at the San Pablo Catholic University.

Throughout this interview, we will explore, with Alonso, some approaches and objectives of the institution, a little about his meeting with Pope Francis, as well as his vision of the human formation of students and his commitment with society.

Join us in this conversation in which you will learn more about the work and commitment of the San Pablo Catholic University from the perspective of its rector.

Alonso, what has your experience been like when you once again assumed the rectory of the San Pablo Catholic University? Could you tell us about some of the main goals for the future of the institution?

With great pleasure. Being rector of UCSP means representing and directing an institution born from the heart of the Church, which brings together professors and students in that love of knowing and with the certainty of knowing the source of truth that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is always an overwhelming experience due to the impact that the university can have on many lives and on the environment in which we operate, while it is also very satisfying to see so much good being done. The latter is something that we recognize with humility and being very aware that, in the face of what the Lord asks of us, our means are always insufficient.

The main accents in our work in these years have been broadening and deepening the training of agents of change for a better, more Christian and developed society; become a focus of thought capable of proposing answers to the great questions of contemporary society and intervene more directly in high-impact projects that contribute to the integral human development of our society.

His experience with Pope Francis

How would you describe your experience participating in the meeting that Pope Francis held with the rectors of Catholic universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in Rome?

Fruitful to be able to listen to the Holy Father and talk with many rectors of Latin American Catholic universities, with whom we share a similar problem and common hopes.

A challenge that we see being raised in many places is the challenge of evangelizing in an environment that is increasingly indifferent and even hostile to the Christian faith, where universities have to be the voice and testimony of reason and faith.

Alonso greeting the Holy Father, on the occasion of the Oducal meeting held in Rome.

Alonso greeting the Holy Father, on the occasion of the Oducal meeting held in Rome.

In what way do you think that the call of Pope Francis to understand the Catholic university as a mission that goes out to evangelize is reflected in the work that Saint Paul does from training, research and projection to the community?

The Pope called us to be missionaries, translating it into the academic sphere as researchers. He told us that the investigator has a missionary mind and heart. He doesn’t settle for what he has, he goes looking for it. The missionary knows the joy of the Gospel and can’t wait for others to experience it. This is a task to which we are called by mission and we assume it with all our hearts.

A very important aspect of that call is service and social projection. We work together with authorities, academia, cooperation agencies, unions, etc, seeking to contribute to integral human development, that is, trying to contribute to the construction of a more developed, more humane, fraternal and reconciled society.

The UCSP from the perspective of Alonso

Does the presence of the Sodalit brothers have a meaning in university life, contributing to the integral formation of students and the promotion of Christian values? How has this integration impacted the mission of San Pablo?

Their presence as professors, administrators, in the university ministry, among other activities, is very important in contributing to the university’s identity and mission. Our university is a world that allows the people who are part of it to develop humanly and professionally. The closeness, welcome and effortful daily work of the Sodalit brothers helps a lot in this task.

What are the keys that the San Pablo Catholic University promotes in the training of its students to foster their human and professional development?

In this very particular time, surrounded by so much uncertainty, the San Pablo Catholic University does not stop feeling called by God to continue making university life a comprehensive experience of access to knowledge and to everything that it means to belong to an educational community. That is why we believe that face-to-face education is essential in the field of undergraduate training, accompanied by increasingly better academic projects, study plans, teacher and student profiles, among other things.

All this should invite the student to ask important questions such as the meaning of human life, the existence of truth and the ways to find it, the ways of organizing contemporary society, trends in social behavior, the role of family, the impact of ideologies, asking ourselves what unites us as Peruvians and what separates us, how we can achieve the long-awaited integral human development.

These questions, among others, mean promoting quality teaching, improving our research capabilities and constant dialogue within the university faculty itself, as well as with the main social actors.

In a world of constant change and technological advances, how is São Paulo preparing its students to face future challenges and the demands of the evolving job market?

We firmly believe that university education, in addition to excellence in professional and scientific training, must also educate students in a humanistic vision based on intellectual and moral virtues that allows them to become agents of change for a better society, and this requires a very active presence, participation and dialogue.

University life and experience, which has done so much good in Europe and other latitudes through, is something in which we are strongly committed. We seek not only for the student to go through the university, but also for the university to go through him, helping him to cultivate a fine, rigorous, demanding intelligence that makes him professionally capable; as well as providing an environment, a climate in which intellectual passion and human values ​​and virtues so urgent today in our society flourish.

On the occasion of the solemn session for the 26 years.

On the occasion of the solemn session for the 26 years.

Finally Alonso, what are the expectations of the San Pablo Catholic University for the future in terms of impact on society and contribution to the development of Peru, Latin America and the world?

We are very committed to helping in the formation and articulation of networks that allow us to support our authorities in building a common regional agenda. Also, in putting research at the service of society that tends to improve the living conditions of thousands of citizens.

In this sense, we are happy as an academic community to be the university in the south with the largest number of research projects financed by Concytec this 2023. But above all, we want to impact society with the testimony of being a university that delivers without qualms in search of the truth to train better people and to work for a better world.

The San Pablo Catholic University is an initiative of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae which has worked apostolically in the city of Arequipa for nearly 40 years. We invite you to learn more about UCSP in these links:

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