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Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S3-S4 (January 2022)
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Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S3-S4 (January 2022)
In memoriam
Open Access
Víctor, a good man
Víctor, un buen hombre
José Ramón Urquijo Goitia
CSIC's ex Vice President (9.02.2012–12.12.2017)
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Vol. 61. Issue S1

Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera

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“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,

and his tongue talks of justice”

(Psalms37: 30)

When I first met Víctor, he was on CSIC's Scientific Committee, where he sat in one of the positions appointed by the president among the department's prestigious scientists while I represented the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences. From that moment on, we developed a friendship in part due to his closeness to the world of humanities. Beforehand, he had been a member himself as the Materials Area coordinator.

I recall that when he spoke a respectful silence filled the room. The minutes recorded by the Scientific Committee adequately reflect the topics that most concerned him. The time we spent together was initially marked by the economic crisis which required a special care to maintain the fundamental elements of scientific life. The first of which were matters that affected personnel in a variety of ways, ranging from hiring increase proposals to providing stability to our dedicated scientists that showed great promise. Víctor also showed interest in the process of interim tenured scientists, and ensured that candidates received equal treatment as that of public servants.

In addition to his interests around Aragon's economic fabric and the streamlining of management procedures, it was his defense of CSIC that led him to consider the need to improve the policy of the “mixed centers”, the establishment of which must take precedence over the defense of the interests of the body and a suitable scientific project.

Certainly, his time in the Vice-Presidency of Organization and Institutional Relations was cut short due to disease crossing his path (30/11/2005–11/02/2006). During that brief period of time, I was his collaborator as head of the Board of Directors, which raised the need to strengthen the figure of the territorial delegates.

His commitment to CSIC was complemented by his commitment to Aragon, a community in which he brilliantly carried out the responsibility of the Delegation for two periods, supporting numerous initiatives for the development of his homeland: his efforts for the collaboration with the University of Zaragoza (his alma mater), the support of the SME, his collaboration with the University of San Jorge.

During my time in that same Vice-Presidency, I reached out to Víctor as he was leading the Delegation in the Aragon's Autonomous Community. It turned out to be the best decision I could make as it wasn’t necessary to appoint anyone else. His knowledge of the institution, composed speech and elegant manners, which I knew all too well, made any change unnecessary. Having collaborators of that stature guaranteed good management of affairs in that region and frankly, he was the best man for the job.

Unfortunately, some months later cancer reared its head again and he was forced to turn in his resignation. I interpreted this as a sign of his honest character. He felt this situation would be a hindrance and make him incapable of meeting his responsibilities within CSIC. Víctor's mindset was always to serve and not to be served; he wanted me to be free to do without him.

I immediately replied that although this was a magnanimous gesture, I would only consider when he felt that he could no longer continue. I firmly believe that people with such a distinguished service record are fundamental in any workplace and best kept close for as long as you can. I managed to keep him for an additional two months until he reached retirement. It marked the end of a good career for a great man.

I continued to stay in touch and follow up on his disease. We talked when he was in the bubble isolated in hospital. I always admired his composure in the midst of adversity even when he knew it was a lost battle. Our conversations touched on the subjects that were most dear to him: Nature, his beloved Pyreneess, the place he would escape to every year to be with friends; Family, the center of his universe, which at the time had just welcomed a new grandchild; and lastly, the reflection about his social and vital compromise which had led him to walk the Camino de Santiago.

After his retirement, I would see him on my visits to Zaragoza or we would speak on the phone. I recall that in one of our last conversations he said, in his usual delicate and affectionate manner, “Hello, Vice-President.” When I would jokingly remind him I was Ex-Vice President, he quickly countered that I would always be “his Vice-President.” I never had the chance to tell him what his words meant to me.

I am not one to follow gruesome TV shows, because I do not like them, nor do I enjoy political intrigues of which I know them perfectly well as they’ve been the subject of my research for 40 years. I prefer those that highlight human values, solidarity and public service. There is one I have seen recently (Chicago Fire, season 9, episode 15; minute 12:15–12:34), where one of the actresses points out the value of the word “good” when describing people. This word, due to the generalization, seems trivial but in her family, it was the highest degree as it meant that a person had honor, was loyal and brave.

I think long speeches or excessive praises are not necessary to describe a man like Víctor, it is enough to say he was a good man.

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