Zeferino Vaz

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By CAIO NAVARRO DE TOLEDO*

A right-wing Rector praised by all.

“It's a monster. Or rather, he is an authentic communist.” (Zeferino Vaz).

Zeferino Vaz has a strong presence in the history of education in the state of São Paulo, particularly in its higher education institutions. Director of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at USP (1936-1947), creator and director of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto at USP (1951-1964) and founder and Rector of the State University of Campinas (1966-1978). For 27 years, Zeferino Vaz had an important role in the University Council of USP (1937-1964) and, twice, he ran for the Deanship of that University. President of the State Council of Education (1963), he was, during the military dictatorship – for 17 months –, Intervenor-Rector of the National University of Brasília (UnB), 1964-1965.

As proof of the recognition of this intense presence in higher education institutions and close connection with the political elites of the state of São Paulo, several public tributes were paid to him: Honorary Citizen of the city of Campinas; streets in seven cities in the state of São Paulo and a highway near Unicamp are named after him. In 1981, the then bionic governor of São Paulo, Paulo Maluf, named the University City of the State University of Campinas “Zeferino Vaz”.

In turn, Unicamp directors also honored the former Rector by designating with his name an award given annually to professors who stand out for their academic production; an auditorium at the Institute of Economics also evokes the biggest figure of the University. At the national level, the “Grande Prêmio Capes de Tese Zeferino Vaz” was created.

This high public recognition is in line with the opinion held by a significant number of Unicamp professors, as the image of the notable “creator” still prevails at Unicamp, whom the entire university community should admire and adopt reverential respect for. According to this evaluation, Unicamp, without the work of Zeferino Vaz, would not have achieved the prestige and recognition that it has achieved today in academic circles in the country and on the continent.

as an academic leader sans peur et sans reproche, Vaz is exalted as a staunch supporter of Unicamp during the military dictatorship. From this perspective, it is stated that he would have been an honorable exception in times when most Brazilian rectors passively accepted the decisions perpetrated against their academic communities. In this sense, several professors (including those of leftist convictions) understand that the entire academic community, yesterday and today, cannot but pay permanent and renewed gratitude to Zeferino Vaz.

Far from ignoring the undeniable merits of the builder of important university institutions in the state of São Paulo, we state that a fair assessment of Zeferino Vaz's academic career cannot do without an analysis of his political positions and ideological convictions. In my view, political and ideological positions, far from being marginal or irrelevant, are crucial elements to understand Vaz's rise and projection in the Brazilian educational scenario.

The political and ideological affinities

A book on relations between USP and the Rockefeller Foundation examined Zeferino Vaz's political and ideological commitments. Through this work, we learn that – along with Ernesto de Souza Campos – Vaz played a central role in deepening relations between USP and the American foundation. In the words of the author, Ramos and Vaz, in Brazil, were the “main figures who disseminated the modernizing model of science – elitist and conservative – formulated by North American philanthropy”.

The author shows, for example, that the substantial financial contributions and technical-scientific help of this Foundation (in the 1950s and 1960s) allowed the creation and consolidation of the Faculty of Medicine of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto at USP. at FMRP-USP – a model in the 1960s in the context of medical schools in Brazil – was decisive in projecting the name of Zeferino Vaz in the state of São Paulo and throughout the country.

The preference of Rockefeller Foundation for these two academic leaders it would not have been gratuitous, but conscious and deliberate; fully in tune with the conception of scientific production advocated by that US entity and with the values ​​and ideals dominant in US society (the defense of free enterprise and the “free world”, anti-communism, pragmatism, etc.), during cold war, both had conservative ideological conceptions and right-wing political ties.

In 1945, Zeferino Vaz became the director of the Veterinary Faculty of USP at the hands of the intervenor of the state of São Paulo, Fernando Costa; later as a member of the Progressive Social Party, founded and under the strict control of his co-religionist and friend, Adhemar de Barros, Vaz would be appointed in 1963 to head the Secretary of Health of the government of the state of São Paulo and, at the end of that year, to the Presidency of the State Board of Education. Still, under the political sponsorship of the coup leader in 1964, Vaz – who had fought the creation of a Faculty of Medicine in Campinas – would be appointed, in September 1965, President of the “Organizing Committee of the University of Campinas”.

Having approved the Commission's Report, on 19/12/1966, the State Council of Education (CEE) would create the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). On 21/12/1966, by act of Governor Laudo Natel – who had succeeded Adhemar de Barros, impeached for “corruption” –, Vaz would be appointed Rector pro tempore from Unicamp; subsequently, he was confirmed in office twice more, although the legislation that created the University prohibited reappointment. The support he received from the military and politicians of the state of São Paulo convinced the bionic governors of São Paulo (Laudo Natel and Abreu Sodré) to turn a blind eye to the flagrant legal irregularity. For 12 years, Zeferino Vaz was Rector pro tempore from Unicamp.

The intimacy he maintained with the rulers of the day was sharply observed by Marcelo Damy, a renowned Brazilian physicist who played an important role in the creation of the Institute of Physics at Unicamp: “A dean has to talk to state and federal authorities in order to receive funds. But he didn't need to be Janguista in the Jango government or Janio in the Jânio government or take President Castelo Branco to lay the cornerstone of Unicamp”.

Without examining here the personal and ideological relationships existing between Vaz and politicians of the 1940s and 1950s – a task that eventual researchers and biographers will be able to clarify – it is possible to mention some relevant facts and episodes, which occurred in the following decades, which reveal the political and ideological commitments from Vaz.

It is the university leader himself who informs us about his political positions and military relations in the context of 1964. Days after the coup, the university leader expressed his immense joy to a prominent executive of the Rockefeller Foundation, Robert Watson, because Brazil was experiencing “wonderful days that culminated in the surgical opening of the infectious communist abscess that was undermining our country through the direct action of Jango Goulart and the communist clique that surrounded him”.

In an excerpt from the letter, he expressed the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War period when referring to a former colleague from FMRP-USP Medicine: “He's a monster. Or rather, he is an authentic communist.”

Although he magnified the coup performance of its political leader, Adhemar de Barros, Vaz was right when he stated that it would be a “gross mistake” to think that the movement of March 31, 1964 had only a military character. A proof of civil participation would be in the intense conspiratorial action of him and other FMRP-USP colleagues against the “janguista subversion”.

Believing in the naivety of his esteemed American friend, he fantasized: if Goulart's coup succeeded, the "communist scoundrel" would condemn him, along with the other "democrats", on the wall… In an interview with researchers from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), he clarified how his “revolutionary action” took place: “So, I got involved in the Revolution, I really got involved and articulated with the then Lieutenant Colonel Restel (…) who was the articulator here and I prepared (as Secretary of Health for Adhemar de Barros, CNT) 250 vans for transportation and fuel storage (...)”.

Positions at the time of the coup

As president of the CEE, he denounced the “Marxist infiltration” in the colleges of the state of São Paulo. In January 1964, The Morning The State of S. Paul informed that Zeferino Vaz “drew the attention of the governor to the fact that, in the program of entrance exams of the Faculty (Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Araraquara, CNT), there is an indication only of Marxist authors as sources of reference to the points of reference History of Brazil. These authors are Caio Prado Júnior and Celso Furtado”. (The news also added that, months before, Governor Adhemar de Barros had vetoed the hiring of Caio Prado Jr. to teach the discipline “History of Economic and Political Doctrines” at the Faculty of the interior of São Paulo.)

In a “memoir” about his anticommunist activities, directed at military sectors, Vaz boasted about the fact that he had asked Governor Adhemar de Barros to dismiss Prof. Paulo Guimarães Fonseca, director of the Faculty of Araraquara, as he would be communizing your students. Still as president of the CEE, Vaz was responsible for the dismissal of prof. Fausto Castilho for differing from the political and ideological conceptions of this FFCL professor in Araraquara.

Likewise, as President of the CEE, Vaz rejected the hiring of Bernardo Boris Vargaftig, in June 1964, for the position of professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the then University of Campinas. The reason for the CEE’s veto – fallaciously justified as being “in the interest of the state administration” – had a clearly ideological dimension since, in the 1960s, Vargaftig, as a student at FMUSP, had actively militated in a politically oriented party. Trotskyist.

It was the “revolutionary curriculum” and the prestige achieved as founder and Director of FMRP-USP that qualified Vaz to be invited by the coup leaders of 1964 to the position of intervenor of UnB. Various reports show that, during his short tenure (April 1964 to August 1965), he avoided the demands of the ultra-right (civil and military) who demanded that more heads roll at UnB. During his brief tenure, he gave contradictory statements to the press; at times he recognized the excellence of the educational and scientific experience at UnB – which he would like to deepen – at times he disqualified human sciences professors for their “mediocre” academic training or for being mere “political agitators”.

Although he can count in his favor the fact that UnB, during his administration, was not invaded by military forces, Vaz was responsible, in the first days of his intervention, for the removal of 13 professors and several employees; in July 1965, pressured by sectors of the right, he revoked the contract of a professor of philosophy, Ernani Fiori, and expelled several students, accused of being “professional agitators”.

In defense of the military dictatorship

Briefly, other episodes can be recalled in order to prove Zeferino Vaz's full identification with the military regime. Some of these facts are reported in Or Mandarim (Book-report by Eustáquio Gomes).

a) AI 5: in several testimonies he praised the enactment of the most repressive institutional act of the military period; referring to the “subversion” of the student movement, Vaz understood that AI 5 and the “subsequent legislation” would interrupt “the process of affirmation of subversive leaders”. As is known, Decree-Law 477 – which punished students – is part of the “subsequent legislation” to AI 5;

b) Compliment of the Coup. In military and civil entities, he gave lectures honoring the “Revolution of March 31, 1964” and deplored the victims of the “Communist Intent” of 1935;

c) Disqualification of critics of the dictatorship. In a conference at the Escola Superior de Guerra, he harshly criticized D. Helder Câmara, the “red bishop”, who, abroad, “denigrates the Brazilian nation”. Likewise, he sharply condemned the UnB students who, in 1977, handed Rosalyn Carter (who was married to Jimmy Carter) a document denouncing the practice of torture in Brazil. For Vaz, the students' gesture would be “betrayal of the ideal of the homeland”;

d) Support for Arena: in the 1974 election campaign, as Rector of Unicamp, he openly supported the candidates of the National Renewal Alliance, the political party that gave full support to the military dictatorship;

e) Honor an ideologue of the military regime. The granting, in 1973, of the Doctor Honoris Causa Award to Colonel Jarbas Passarinho – who had no merit to receive the honor – did not fail to symbolize the unrestricted support that the Rector gave to the military government. In the session, held outside the campus (and practically secret) Board of Directors of Unicamp, professors of democratic positions remained silent, such was the embarrassment existing at the meeting. Zeferino Vaz, strictly speaking, imposed on the University the tribute to a faithful servant of the military dictatorship, a signatory of AI 5 that retired researchers and professors, arrested students and trade unionists

An observation is necessary here. Bearing in mind that "first-time revolutionaries" (intellectuals, politicians, literati, clerics, journalists, etc.) - after denouncing the military dictatorship's policy of terror (deaths, disappearances and torture) - withdrew their support for the discretionary regime, it is up to It is up to Zeferino Vaz's biographers to clarify whether, at some point in his life, the founder of schools acted in a similar way to Teotônio Vilela, Severo Gomes, Alceu Amoroso Lima and others. A well-informed academic, would the founder of Unicamp – in the name of democratic values, free cultural debate and critical thinking – distance himself from the military dictatorship?

After all, which sector of the Brazilian right was Zeferino Vaz most in tune with? Not knowing that he made a public self-criticism of his coup past, we would not be led to conclude that the “enlightened right”, with which the founder of Unicamp would be committed, never gave up the frontal combat to leftist thought, in particular to the ghost of communism? Accepting what his admirers say about him – a leader who cultivated political and ideological impartiality –, we would be, therefore, before a combative anti-communist outside the university, but who, when entering his fields, harnessed weapons and surrendered to the values ​​of tolerance and theoretical-ideological pluralism?

We must conclude that, during his tenure at Unicamp, Zeferino Vaz protected his community despite turning a blind eye to the arbitrary acts perpetrated outside the campus, by the regime that he wholeheartedly supported?

A tenacious squire of Unicamp? The right-wing dean who protected the left?

As the journalistic chronicle propagates about two prominent right-wing leaders in Brazil – Roberto Marinho (The Globe) and Júlio de Mesquita Filho (The Estadão) –, it is also commonplace at Unicamp to say that Rector Zeferino Vaz “took good care of his communists”; that is, it did not allow leftist students and professors to be affected by the repression of the military dictatorship.

It is said that during a visit by Eric Hobsbawm to the University, the Dean turned to the Marxist historian and joked: “Do you see those boys over there? They are all communists, but I will tell you one thing: they know how to work”. At other times, he warned that left-wing professors were aware that they should not use academic activities to engage in political and ideological proselytism. In 1978, shortly after his departure from Unicamp, in an interview he clarified: “I do not admit that any professor uses his chair to preach extremist ideology, because this is cowardice”.

Several testimonies report the hiring by Unicamp, in the middle of the military dictatorship, of Brazilian and Latin American professors with a leftist orientation. The case of five students expelled from the Instituto Tecnológico da Aeronáutica (ITA) – punished by Decree-Law 477 – who were welcomed with “open arms” by the University’s Institute of Physics is also always remembered.

Another widely publicized episode was the visit made by the Rector, in 1968, to Unicamp students arrested after the unsuccessful XXX Congress of the UNE, in Ibiúna, São Paulo; on that occasion, as Vaz himself made a point of boasting about, he took “cigarettes and chocolate” to the detainees. In Ripper Filho's testimony to the Unicamp Truth and Memory Commission “Octavio Ianni” it was stated that the Dean prevented the SNI from carrying out the arrest, within the campus, from a professor at the Institute of Biology; Likewise, Vaz would have provided a military lawyer to defend the professor accused of subversion.

In 1975, also, in response to appeals from sectors of the academic community, he visited a young professor of history at the IFCH who was suffering brutal torture at the DOI-Codi; with this visit, the incommunicability regime imposed, until then, on prof. Ademir Gebara. It is imperative, therefore, to recognize that no Brazilian Rector, in the midst of the military dictatorship, had initiatives similar to those of Zeferino Vaz.

Can we then conclude from these facts that the founder of Unicamp would have been a firm supporter of his community, intransigently defending it from the threats and arbitrariness of the military governments? Would his “contradictory figure” – as it is a truism to say about “complex personalities” – then consist in the fact that right-wing convictions in no way compromised his performance as Rector of Unicamp?

In order to consistently answer the above questions, some episodes must be examined.

a) By having relations with the National Liberation Alliance (ALN), although he was not directly involved in the armed struggle, Unicamp student Alcides Mamizuka, in 1969, was arrested and framed in the National Security Law. As you report Or Mandarim, the student – ​​who suffered brutal torture – did not receive any “moral comfort” visits from the Unicamp Rectory, nor did he receive “cigarettes or chocolates”. Years later, now free, the student intended to re-enter the course at the Institute of Food Technology. The Dean, however, not only refused to grant the student a hearing, but also rejected his appeal, forcing him to take a new entrance exam. In turn, Luiz Antônio Vasconcelos (Vasco), a student at the Institute of Economics – also accused of joining the ALN –, was also arrested in 1971. This time, the appeals of the academic community did not sensitize the Rector in order to intercede for the student with the your executioners. Second Or Mandarim, during the 47 days that Vasco was detained at DOI-Codi and Dops “Zeferino didn't move a finger”;

b) Seeking to determine the responsibilities of a student hazing in the streets of downtown Campinas – in 1970, which would have displeased traditional sectors of the Campinas family –, Vaz imposed the opening of an investigation and demanded that the Board of Directors punish the eventual culprits. Strictly speaking, the students had not been the protagonists of scenes of physical violence, only “attacks on good morals”. Faced with the impossibility of identifying those responsible, the Rector – supported by Decree-Law 477 – suspended four student leaders from Unicamp for six months.

c) In testimony to the Unicamp Truth Commission, former student Ronaldo (French Fries) Simões reported that in the second half of 1975, four students (2 student representatives on the Board of Directors and 2 alternates) were summoned to the Campinas Army Command in order to provide clarification on “political unrest” in the campus and out of it. In addition to the threats suffered, they were also pressured to participate in a reception for the then presidential candidate, Ernesto Geisel, scheduled for the city hall. However, none of them attended, as a plebiscite, called by the students, massively rejected the military's demand. In this episode, the Rectory took no initiative to protect students from the arbitrary coercion they suffered from the Army command. It was evident that the military demanded and the Dean consented;

d) A qualified Unicamp leader was also summoned to appear, with the approval of the Rectory, at a branch of the Army in Campinas. For having approved the hiring of Nelson Rodrigues dos Santos (Nelson), a doctor linked to the PCB and Sérgio Arouca's contract renewed, the Director of FCM, José Aristodemo Pinotti, experienced an embarrassing situation; for more than 24 hours he remained isolated in a room at the Armored Infantry Battalion of Campinas, waiting to be heard by the commander. Insolently, the officer – who summoned him to testify – ended up not receiving the Director of FCM; after the long and useless wait, an adjutant was the bearer of a warning to prof. Pinotti: that he desist from hiring the “communist doctor”. It should be recognized that the Rector did not dismiss the left-wing professors, but, equally, he did not pledge any solidarity with the Director of FCM for the temporary imprisonment and moral aggression suffered;

e) FCM's “purge in Preventive Medicine”.
This episode consisted in the destruction of a promising scientific experiment with a high social reach that, in the 1970s, was being developed at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Unicamp.

A group of 18 professionals linked to the area of ​​public health (student residents, technicians and doctors) formed around the leadership of Antônio Sérgio Arouca. Several activities were carried out by the group: seminars and study groups around authors of critical philosophy and sociology (Marx, Althusser, Foucault, Gramsci, Florestan Fernandes and others); the university's power structure was debated (the “parity commissions”); provided outpatient care in the Jardim das Oliveiras neighborhood, on the outskirts of Campinas, and in the city of Paulínia (in addition to medical consultations, conversations were held with residents about their living conditions and health situation).

In his testimony to Unicamp Truth Commission, Anamaria Testa Tambellini reported that, from 1973 onwards, the Board of the FCM – questioning the Marxist theoretical perspective and the social engagement of the group – started to take coercive measures against the collective of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine (prohibition of meetings of professors with students and meetings with patients and suspension of teaching). In 1975, according to the former DMPS participant, all members – some of them linked to the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) – began to suffer political persecution within Unicamp. Threats of non-renewal of contracts at FCM forced the group's professors and researchers to seek professional links in other teaching and research institutions in the country. Strictly speaking, there was no official record of dismissals made by the Board of FCM; however, authentic “white cassations” began to occur.

The cases of Sérgio Arouca and Anamaria Tambellini are instructive. Although they had delivered, within the established deadlines, their doctoral theses to the Board of FCM, the two were informed that they would only have their defense dates defined after demonstrating that they would have professional links with new institutions. Considered “subversive” by the conservative sectors of the FCM and kept under lock and key on the Rector's desk, Arouca's doctoral thesis could only be defended when he proved to have been hired by Fiocruz, RJ.

In Tambellini's version, Vaz fully supported the pressures of the FCM Board. In an excerpt from the Unicamp Truth Commission Report, it was stated: “He (Rector of Unicamp, CNT) was under pressure from the military government and also from institutional and financial partners, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, which had great influence within the Faculdade de Medical Sciences and Unicamp”. At that moment, prestigious researchers in the field of preventive medicine in São Paulo tried, together with Zeferino Vaz, to convince him to support the researchers led by Arouca; in their defense, they showed the pioneering nature and quality of their research, in addition to the relevance of the social work they carried out outside Unicamp. Those attempts were in vain, as, according to Tambellini's testimony, Zeferino Vaz would invariably tell his interlocutors: “I don't do business with this group”.

Interpreting the meaning of the “purge in Preventive Medicine”, the current researcher from Fiocruz concludes: “It was the destruction of a very rich possibility of scientific work and thought about health service molded in very advanced elements, and that until today in the SUS has not been done. exist".

Final considerations

I – There is a broad consensus on the role played by Zeferino Vaz in the construction of Unicamp. Professors of different theoretical and ideological conceptions (among them, conservative, liberal and progressive) recognize that he was, in the history of Brazilian higher education, the director who most contributed to the creation of university institutions of a public character throughout the country.

Regarding his style of administration – highly centralized and often authoritarian –, conservative sectors do not object to him. They support you wholeheartedly. In turn, liberals and progressives – who assume democracy as an irreplaceable value in terms of discourse – make amends for the conservative convictions and arbitrary acts of Vaz, an authentic little napoleon. However, it should also be underlined that such questions are practically overlooked when, in evaluating the academic-political trajectory, the results of the “great work built” are privileged.

By admitting that democratic practices are not always effective and “realistic”, would these liberal and progressive sectors not be endorsing the assumption that an authoritarian style of action can be reasonable, acceptable and legitimate? In this sense, in the end, liberals and progressives do not end up assuming the thesis that – in certain political situations – one should resign in the face of authoritarian leaderships that are innovative and contribute to the development of science, technology and culture ?

Although they have ideologically differentiated views, conservatives, liberals and progressives at Unicamp seem to coincide with a complacent assessment of the trajectory of academic Zeferino Vaz, insofar as he would have built a remarkable science and technology plant in the middle of a sugarcane field on the outskirts of the city of Campinas, but, as a university leader, he never consistently cultivated and practiced democratic values.

II – It is also consensual the understanding that, unlike what happened in other universities (among them, USP, UnB, UFRJ and PUC-SP), Unicamp, during the military dictatorship, would have been – in terms of institutional violence – quite privileged: troops did not invade; professors were not suspended by AI 5; students and staff were not detained in the campus.

Created in 1966, it is imperative, however, to recognize that Unicamp did not have, until the end of the 1970s, movements of teachers, students and employees that were well organized and actively mobilized against the military dictatorship. There was democratic resistance, but there were no significant confrontations and hard fights organized by the entities of the campus, as occurred in other public universities in the post-1964 period.

Imagine, for example, the presence of a student housing in the campus from Unicamp; the hypothesis is not unreasonable, since, in the 1960s, there was a Residential Complex (Crusp) at USP that housed a few hundred students. In the first years of the dictatorship, Crusp became an active space for democratic resistance: political actions against the regime, debates and socialist-oriented study groups were organized there. Not without reason, Crusp – a kind of “free territory” – was seen by the information and security organs as a “focus of subversion and turmoil”. As is known, shortly after AI 5 was enacted, the campus USP was invaded by the São Paulo Military Police and military forces; in an authentic “war operation”, hundreds of students were arrested and Crusp ended up being closed indefinitely.

If Unicamp, during the military dictatorship, had a student housing with a political dynamic similar to that of Crusp – i. that is, a “focus of agitation and subversion” – would it be preserved since the highest authority of the campus care for the defense of the academic community? Would the Rector of Unicamp be able to negotiate with the security forces and guarantee university autonomy?

It is undeniable that, during the military governments, Unicamp was not the scene of systematic acts of arbitrariness and violence. How to explain this: the fact that the University has a fearless squire at its head? Or should the preservation of the integrity of the academic community be explained, fundamentally, by the reason that there are no clear situations of political confrontation between democratic sectors of the university and military governments?

In this regard, the “purge in Preventive Medicine” must be invoked here again. In 1975, on the occasion of the “Operation Jakarta”– when a broad “hunt for communists” was unleashed across the country – Zeferino Vaz was unable to negotiate with his military friends. Nineteen health professionals – who were part of an innovative group of researchers – suffered authentic “white cassations”; some members of this FCM-Unicamp collective were accused of belonging to the PCB and, even more serious, of developing a medical practice that went out to the people and dialogued with them.

Pressured equally by internal sectors of the University and foreign development entities, the Rector accepted the demands of the military and was directly responsible for the exclusion of researchers and professors from FCM. It should be noted that this fact was – and continues to be – practically ignored by the academic community as a whole. (One of the merits of Unicamp's Truth Commission was – as revealed by its Final report – make public this serious episode that occurred at Unicamp in the 1970s.)

reason seems to have Anamaria Tambellini, researcher, who, in 1975, was the victim of a “white impeachment” at Unicamp, when she observed: “He (Rector of Unicamp, CNT) let everyone walk around with Marx's book, they could discuss it, but they couldn't practice or do politics”.

III – As previously clarified, the central motivation of this text is to suggest the intellectual pertinence of producing works on the academic-political trajectory of Zeferino Vaz. Certainly, they will be important for the knowledge of Brazilian intellectual history, particularly for research on the issue of higher education institutions in the state of São Paulo. On the other hand, we believe that studies on the trajectory of Zeferino Vaz could contribute to the knowledge of the performance of academics and intellectuals of right-wing convictions in times of democracy and dictatorship.

Basically, the issues outlined above are suggestions for the development of research that contribute to overcoming impressionist and less than analytical formulations about the work and figure of Zeferino Vaz. Without ignoring the qualities of the sagacious and determined “sower of institutions”, I am convinced that the majority of existing testimonies and testimonies about Vaz lack critical distance.

In this sense, the episodes and facts mentioned above – which require careful and in-depth research – should be seen as research avenues for problematizing existing uncritical formulations about the founder of the State University of Campinas. After all, in academic activity, critical thinking – which rejects hagiography and unfounded iconoclasm – must be fully exercised, particularly in confronting “truths” consolidated by common sense.

Let's conclude.

Two frankly contradicting assessments of Zeferino Vaz's work and trajectory perhaps illustrate the difficulties and challenges faced by researchers.

Guided by the works of the National Truth Commission, the Report of the Anísio Teixeira Truth and Memory Commission of UnB – taking into account the destructive role that the Rector-intervener played in that university – made a Public Recommendation questioning a Capes Grand Prize for Teses Zeferino Vaz. For the academic community of UnB, today, the ex-Rector-intervenor is a persona non grata.

However, in contrast to this critical judgment, almost all of Unicamp's academic community – recognizing the merits of the great entrepreneur –, diverges from such recognition by willingly accepting that its University City bear the name of its great creator.

Sine will go and studio it should therefore be the intellectual guideline and orientation of the researcher who focuses on the political-ideological trajectory and the educational work of Zeferino Vaz.

* Gaius Navarro of Toledo is a retired professor at Unicamp. Former member of the Truth and Memory Commission Octavio Ianni from Unicamp (2014-2015).

 

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