– In a ceremony held at the Canary Island government headquarters in the presence of the president of the Canary Island government, Ángel Víctor Torres, and the regional minister for education and universities, Manuela Armas.
– Ángel Víctor Torres emphasised Ángel Tristan’s “permanent and vital commitment to culture, the society in which he lives, and also to academia and education, a commitment which has remained intact throughout his life”.
– Ángel Tristán: “the Canary Island Social Councils Act is considered to be the best in Spain: the clearest and most complete, the most independent, and the one which has produced the best results”.
– Ángel Tristán offered a commitment and his sincere cooperation to the rector, Lluís Serra, for this new mandate “with so many challenges”.
– Among the challenges for this period he cited the need to form alliances with European and international universities, to be a model for society and not a distracted bystander, to increase the number of credits being taken, to develop a reputation strategy, and to implement the recommendations of the Spanish Court of Auditors [Tribunal de Cuentas], the regional auditing body [Audencia de Cuentas], and the Canary Island parliament.
– According to the new head of the Social Council, the ULPGC “pressingly needs to take a great leap forward to create the conditions needed in order to be part of the leading pack of European intellects”.
Ángel Tristán Pimienta has been inaugurated as the new chairman of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Social Council, in a ceremony held at the Canary Island government headquarters in the presence of the president of the Canary Island government, Ángel Víctor Torres, and the regional minister for education and universities, Manuela Armas.
The Canary Island president thanked Ángel Tristán Pimienta for having accepted the proposal of again heading up the ULPGC Social Council and highlighted his “permanent and vital commitment to culture, the society in which he lives, and also to academia and education, a commitment which has remained intact throughout his life”.
He gave a reminder of the need to back the sciences, education, innovation, and medicine, and to strengthen the welfare state supported by healthcare, as being the primary lessons of the pandemic. He used the ceremony in order to recognise the “great work” of the Scientific Committee, of which the ULPGC rector Lluís Serra was a member, “because it provided us with so much light in times of extreme darkness”.
Ángel Víctor Torres encouraged that differences be set aside in order to find solutions to problems and to make use of “the important resources which are available today” to move forward with a clear road map, reflected in the shared commitment which the Canary Island Sustainable Development Agenda signifies, passed with the support of all political parties, social and economic stakeholders, universities, and all sectors of society. “Between now and 2030 much has to be changed so that, with the necessary funds and by supporting innovation, we are able to deal with adverse situations in the best way possible on behalf of the university and young people. I am convinced that this will be the case”, he added.
He emphasised that the new Social Council chairman “experiences things with great enthusiasm and has practiced good, truthful journalism, with bravery and based on an understanding of things” and offered the chairman the support and cooperation of the Canary Island government. “I thank you because it is often easier to say no than to say yes and you chose the latter”, he concluded.
The regional minister for education and universities, Manuela Armas, for her part expressed her admiration for the journalist and highlighted his broad experience within the Social Council where he has served as a member, vice-chairman, and chairman.
“Beyond assertions like those of his capacity for work, intelligence, institutional loyalty, personal opinion, and critical spirit, Ángel Tristán is a good person and in order to build bridges, generate resolve, and move forward with assurances, you need good people”, the regional minister said.
In his speech, Ángel Tristán Pimienta thanked the president of the Canary Island government and the regional minister for education and universities for his appointment to this role, and the governing board for “its faith at this critical juncture for the Spanish public university system, and for that of the Canary Islands in particular”.
Recalling the major demonstration with bought together almost 300,000 people, he said that this university “emerged from a society which not only wanted a ‘fully-fledged’ university, but also a good, advanced university which would be a source of pride and a hallmark of a Canary Island identity of which we could boast and feel proud of, and that would be closer to the front of the pack than to the rear”. In fact, he told of how his first act on being appointed chairman of the ULPGC Social Council in 2015 was to order a giant photo of the ‘Ahora sí’ [Now yes] demonstration held on 19th May 1988, “a visual reminder of where we came from, so that we do not forget or so that those who did not experience it can learn. We were conceived after a long fight by the people of Gran Canaria in which each personal dream was like a powerful microchip within a circuit”.
He continued by saying that this activism meant that on 3rd August 1990 there was already a university on Gran Canaria, for which reason the committee promoting the Popular Legislative Initiative Act [Ley de Iniciativa Legislativa Popular] deemed its work finished and expressed its wish that the university community “always be aware that the university -and more so the ULPGC- is not exclusively theirs, that it is not something that belongs to them, nor their own fiefdom, and that ways of thinking which are corporatist and which reject outsiders should never be reproduced here”.
“This spirit has always guided my words and actions, both when I have been within the University, in the Social Council, and when I have been outside of it, working within my profession and passion of journalism. Universities should respect the principles of equality, merit, and ability; relinquish corporatism and the rejection of outsiders; be cosmopolitan, cultured, open to the world, modern, European, advanced; have dedicated and continually up-to-date teaching staff; have students who apply themselves and, if possible in these strange times, pass within the stipulated timeframe and adhering to the established rules; have competent and qualified administrative and services staff who meet the needs and aims of the society which surrounds the University and funds it… because we are funded by public money, which is not infinite. And we should not forget the need to be self-critical”, said the new Social Council chairman.
Alluding to his words in his 2015 speech he declared that “this university was not founded by a king, a noble, or a dictator needing some cultural polish, a wealthy man with a bad conscience, or even Cardinal Cisneros. It was established by our people. Our, Canarian, people. And they are represented by their social and democratic institutions. All of these are, in turn, represented by this Social Council which is not like all the rest. We are the guardians of this massive, cross-cutting legacy, loyal to the enduring mandate of the people of Gran Canaria and uncompromising in the safekeeping of the unrelinquishable values which one day motivated us to make our dreams come true. This is all distilled and summarised in the unchanging photograph of a marching crowd”.
Faced with the emergence of private universities, he explained that in all sectors “as in Canarian wrestling, one can only use their energy in order to gain new momentum and increase quality and the ability to implement forward moving initiatives”.
The current Universities Act and devolved Canary Island legislation on Social Councils, according to the new Social Council chairman, develop an article which is one of the “most unknown, or at least, least understood of the Spanish Constitution: article 21.10, which recognises the self-governance of universities within the terms set out by law”.
On this issue, he highlighted that Canary Island legislation regarding universities and social councils is a power which is clearly set out in article 134 of the Estatuto de Autonomia [legislation granting regional self-governance]. “Therefore, this ‘authority’ already forms a key part of the hallmarks of Canary Island identity. This is the same as the REF [Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands], but shines brighter as education contributes to the improvement of future generations”. He added that the Canary Island Social Councils Act is considered to be the best in Spain, “the clearest and most complete, the most independent, and the one which has produced the best results. We must have done something right for the head of the National Court of Auditors’ Audit Division to emphasise during the Conference of Social Councils’ assembly and forum, held in Maspalomas in November 2018, that the ULPGC “has a system which is pioneering within Spain”, that “is an example for the country’s other 49 universities”.
The new chairman of the Social Council, alluding to his own experience, said that he “knows how hard it is to maintain harmony within a model that, as set out in the Universities Act, is based on the joint participation and responsibility of the two most important university bodies. The rector is the primary single-member body, but the Social Council is the primary multi-member body”.
To conclude his speech, Ángel Tristán offered “a commitment and my sincere cooperation to the rector, Lluís Serra, for this new mandate that I am now commencing with so many challenges, while the debates surrounding the new legislation show the huge weight of vested interests, self-destructively forgetting that Spanish public universities as a whole, and of this one in particular, pressingly need to take a great leap forward to create the conditions needed in order to be part of the leading pack of European intellects”.
Regarding cooperation with the rector, he said it will be aimed at tackling “all issues, both those which are outstanding and those which are new, demanded of us by the times, public service, scientific developments, society, our reputation, and our own survival”.
Among the challenges within this new period he cited the need to form strategic alliances with leading European and international universities; to lead, or at least be involved in, the broad conversation and debates within the sectors where society operates; to be a required model and not a distracted bystander; to increase the number of credits being taken, to adapt the masters courses which allow students to work in regulated professions [másteres habilitantes] to demand, to develop a reputation strategy to implement “the repeated” recommendations of the Spanish Court of Auditors, the Canary Island auditing body, and the Canary Island parliament regarding analytical accounting and controlling the timetabling of classes and tutorials, a key factor in the informed assessment of the teaching staff’s ability regarding the current needs and dynamic of courses.
He concluded his speech by asserting that the Social Council “will try all means to overcome disagreements through ongoing dialogue. Dispute is healthy and, what’s more, is a fact of life and part of sharing responsibilities. Chaos theory is to be feared; it is always lurking and at times seems ever present.
About Ángel Tristán Pimienta
Ángel Tristán Pimienta was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1948. He held the position of chairman of the ULPGC Social Council between 2015 and 2019. The journalist and former director of the La Provincianewspaper (2005-2010) has always been associated with the story of the ULPGC and its creation as he was one of their prominent driving forces, speaking in the historic meetings which took place in the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Círculo Mercantil and Gabinete Literario. Similarly, he has been a member of the University’s Promoting Committee, which organised the May 1988 demonstration.
He was a cofounder and driving force behind the ‘Alumni-ULPGC’. In addition, on 30th November 2018 he was named an honorary economist by the Las Palmas Official Association of Economists [Colegio Oficial de Economistas] due to his career as a member of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Promoting Committee, and in 2019 was named a patron of the Fundación Universitaria Las Palmas.
In 1993 he was chosen, for the first time, by the Canary Island parliament to be a member of the ULPGC Social Council, later being appointed vice-chairman, a role he held for two years. During his second term, beginning in 2015, Tristán Pimienta was chosen as a member on behalf of the social interests of the Canary Island government and was later appointed chairman of the body until the conclusion of his mandate in April 2019.
Moreover, Tristán Pimienta was the deputy director of the Faro de Vigo newspaper for two years; a contributor for TVE [a national broadcasting network] between 1967 and 1968; head of a news bulletin on Radio Canariasin the 80s; correspondent for the Gaceta Ilustrada y Cuadernos para el Diálogo publication, among others; and head of the Club Prensa Canaria. He currently contributes to the digital newspaper The Huffington Post.
He has been awarded the Encomienda del Mérito Civil, the Cruz del Mérito Naval, named Hijo Predilecto de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and given the Can de Plata de la Cultura by the Island Council of Gran Canaria,among other honours.
Among his published work can be highlighted ‘Oficio de Libertad’, writings on journalism (2009), ‘El año de las malas noticias’ (2009), ‘Canarias: La Guerra Invisible (I y II)’ (2013), ‘La Democracia Saqueada’ (2014), ‘Cataluña: Regreso al big bang’ (2015), ‘El 68 y la Larga Transición’ (2018), and ‘Los primeros 100 días de la gran reclusión’, a detailed and very personal daily chronicle of the lockdown at the start of the pandemic, from March 2020, which is awaiting publication by Ediciones IDEA. He has given more than 200 lectures since 1971.
Full video of the inauguration ceremony: