These are some personal, heartfelt thoughts on the tragedy that Mexico is enduring, due to the devastating earthquake that hit the central and southern part of our country on September 19th. It severely impacted one of our largest campuses in Mexico City. For Tecnologico de Monterrey (Tec), this tragedy represents the worst hardship in our 74 years of history.
More than ever, I wish I could have the gift of ubiquity, to be able to respond in person not only to the deepest grief of the five families whose sons lost their lives in our campus – Alex, Edgar, Juan Carlos, Luis, and Ruben -, or to the 40 injured in the tremor, but also to the pain, fears and hopes of each member of our community.
How can I multiply my presence in order to convey my deepest appreciation to so many old and new friends of our institution, in Mexico and abroad, who have immediately and generously offered their condolences, their caring, their courage, and their resources to help us deal with our crisis? To the many presidents of universities who have opened their facilities worldwide to lodge our students as we rebuild. This outpouring of friendship, encouragement, and support has been the best tribute to our five students.
Adversity sometimes comes without notice and surpasses all precedent. That is the case with this earthquake. If one combines its magnitude with the immediacy of the epicenter, it was the most intense to hit us in decades.
Ours is the responsibility to help channel our university´s life along the path of solidarity, reconstruction, and fortitude needed in this tragic moment. We have been duly informing of our responses to the tragedy.
As we deal with the crisis, I am immensely proud of the Tec community. Of our students, alumni, staff, faculty, trustees, deans and directors, who in tandem with the profusion of generous external assistance, helped with the rescue efforts; who aided in reuniting families after the tremor; who continue to work with experts and inspectors, to ensure a thorough review of the state of our facilities, along with Transparency International in Mexico; and who contribute each day to our painstaking return to academic normalcy.
We constitute one of the largest and most prestigious university systems in the world: one that comprises Tecnologico de Monterrey and Universidad Tecmilenio, in the vastness of close to 150 thousand students in 60 campuses, present in 36 cities.
Adversity of this nature tests our concept of leadership. It shapes and matures in a matter of minutes our students´ grit, like no academic experience can. It tests our capacity to deliver the kind of sensitivity that this level of misfortune demands. We are proud of the way our students, faculty and staff have contributed to the response to the tragedy across so many affected communities, giving us the strength and endurance to deal and make sense of adversity.
Tragedy leads us to ponder the essence of our university. It forces us to examine how we buttress an even more empathic Tec, one that is epitomized by our Leaders of Tomorrow program. It begets our role in shaping a new Mexico, in discerning a nation more committed to justice and opportunity for all; in helping build more avenues for civic engagement – many more -, to reach the two central pillars for a better Mexico: improved inclusiveness and citizenship.
As we try to provide the most emphatic response to the many members of our community who need much more than urgent solutions to our academic life, tragedy has displayed again the mettle and best nature of our nation, what we can achieve and what we need to amend. It has shown us a Mexico infused in solidarity; a new generation that does not want to live in a stratified and unequal society; a new brand of citizenship. A Mexico that has been evident in the spontaneous leadership of thousands of anonymous heroes, who have risked their lives with no recognition expected.
A week after the earthquake, my first grandson was born. He touches my soul in an indescribable way, and leads me to ponder the dramatic contrasts offered by life. How do I reconcile this bliss with the infinite pain I share with my university, that cruel distribution of the providential, that amalgam of the greatest blessings and a boundless misfortune? I have no answers. All I can do is respond as best I can: with my full commitment, trying to leave behind my best legacy in the institution I head, as we face the fleeting nature of life.
For Tec is the sum of our commitments and legacies. As a student reminds us in recent days, Tec is not a noun – it is a verb. In that verb, we muster together in our community all the compassion, energy, determination, endurance, creativity, and honesty that this remarkable university represents, so that our CCM Campus and all of Tec, one united Tec, reemerges to accomplish our collective dreams. With our spirits high, Tec is standing, moving forward!
We invite you to contribute to Mexico´s disaster relief efforts. #FuerzaMéxico
Please visit: donar.tec.mx