«Jordi, on behalf of everyone and with all our hearts: thank you, thank you, thank you!»
Those were the words of Josep Maria Pujol, the president of UIC Governing Board, at the tribute ceremony held on Thursday, 21 March 2013, for the UIC's first rector, Dr. Jordi Cervós. In attendance were the three rectors and close to fifty people who participated in the creation of the university fifteen years ago.
It was a short, heartfelt ceremony, according to the current rector, Pere Alavedra. “We want to pay a well-deserved tribute to someone who has been a driving force behind this university,” he said. Josep Argemí, the second UIC rector, had these words to say to Dr. Cervós: “You were the person who set the standard here and defined the social perception of this university. Creating a new private university was unprecedented at the time.”
In 1997, when the history of the UIC began, Jordi Cervós (born in 1930), was a professor of Anatomical Pathology at the Freie Universität Berlin, where he had also been the dean and vice rector. But when he was asked to be the rector of what would become the Free University of Catalonia, he decided to return to Barcelona after more than 40 years in Berlin. He has been awarded seven honorary degrees from institutions such as the Universitat de Barcelona and in 2002 he received the Creu de Sant Jordi from Jordi Pujol, the president of the Catalan government.
During the tribute, Josep Maria Pujol, the current president of the UIC Governing Board, gave a short, but deep-felt speech in which he demonstrated his affection for the person who “motivated him in this major undertaking”. Pujol and Cervós met when Pujol came to take over the position of president from Ramón Guardans. He said, “If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have continued. You were a fundamental part of that UIC, which is completely unrelated to what it is today and what it will be tomorrow. It is supported by and built on foundations and one of those key foundations is you. Jordi, on behalf of everyone and with all our hearts: thank you, thank you, thank you!”
At the ceremony, a painted portrait of Jordi Cervós was unveiled and hung in the rector's office.