Tenth Anniversary of the Campus Biomedico University

The Campus Biomedico University in Rome celebrated its tenth anniversary on October 15, 2003. The university was an initiative of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, who inspired faithful of the Prelature to start an educational institution in Rome that would be a model of teaching and health care based on the ideal of service to the person. The university comprises two schools: a School of Medicine and Surgery, which besides a degree in medicine offers degrees in nursing and dietetics; and a School of Biomedical Engineering.

Bishop Javier Echevarría celebrated the Mass inaugurating the academic year in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, in Rome. In his homily he recalled words spoken by his predecessor ten years earlier: “Don Alvaro encouraged us to ‘learn how to accept with elegance and a sporting spirit’ the difficulties that accompany all beginnings. He also recommended that you work with a spirit of unity and understanding, with optimism. ‘The key word,’ he said, ‘that should never be forgotten is this one: service. In your work as educators, researchers, students, and in all the other important tasks of administration, maintenance, cleaning, etc., you are called to serve others joyfully.’”[1]

This ideal of service as a key to the university’s success was reiterated during the ceremony inaugurating the Academic Year, held on the morning of October 15 in the Palazzo Lancellotti. Among those taking part were the Campus Biomedico’s President, Paolo Arullani, the Rector, Vincenzo Lorenelli, as well as professors, students, non-teaching staff and their families. “Finishing the first ten years of one’s life,” said Professor Arullani, “is quite significant. But ten years are very few for an institution destined to last for centuries, as we see in other Italian universities now celebrating their respective centennials.” The Rector, Vincenzo Lorenzelli, noted that “the anniversary of an institution is always an occasion to reflect upon its goals and the extent to which these have been attained, in order to channel and where necessary correct future efforts.” During the past ten years this university has become a model of public service, uniting attention to the person—both students and patients—with the effort to attain outstanding scientific competence. The Campus Biomedico, in the first years of its life, has concentrated its efforts on “improving the quality of its university teaching, and thus of the formation of the new generation,” the Rector continued. “These students confront a society where knowledge, constant learning and continual innovation constitute the only truly competitive factors.” Thus it is important that the university includes a Department of Anthropology and Applied Ethics and a Department for Research in Education and Teaching. Professor Paola Binetti, the director of this last department, said during the inauguration that “all too frequently, a person involved in education is accused of being utopian. Personally, I would be very happy if the Campus Biomedico succeeds in becoming a living expression of a ‘utopia,’ where it is possible to impart knowledge cheerfully and effectively.”

Fabio Mangiacapra, a student at the university, was also one of the speakers. He pointed out that, for the students, the Campus Biomedico is not “simply an excellent university or an ambitious project,” but “also a moral and human” reference point. In the afternoon, a delegation of 200 people made up of professors, students and personnel of the university were received by the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, together with the Minister for Health, Girolamo Sirchia, and the Minister for Education, Letizia Moratti. The President of the Campus Biomedico, Paolo Arullani, in his greeting to Italy’s President, recalled that the university is inspired by the teachings of the founder of Opus Dei. “St. Josemaría,” Arullani said, “taught us to cultivate a Christian spirit together with a sound lay mentality that knows how to give the right weight to professionalism, to civic spirit and to love for one’s country.” This is the spirit that has animated the Campus Biomedico in its first ten years. It has endeavored to “contribute to people in our country being able to speak about ‘good health’ rather than ‘bad health;’ to patients not only being well cared for, but treated with affection; to students not only receiving lessons, but personalized attention in their university studies; to research being carried out with scientific seriousness, with a zeal to help meet all human needs.”

Professor Arullani mentioned the activities that the Campus Biomedico is currently carrying out in the eastern part of Rome, with an ambulatory clinic and a center for advanced cancer as well as the University Hospital. He also spoke of the support Campus Biomedico is giving to projects for the formation of doctors and nurses in Central Africa. Finally, he spoke about the future: “We are on the eve of a great challenge. Up to now we have been working in rented premises. But now we are about to construct our definitive home in Trigoria, where the first building has already been completed, the Health Care Center for the Aged, which is carrying out ambulatory and inpatient activities for elderly persons in the area. We are facing the challenge of constructing new buildings totaling about a million square feet on a 150 acre campus, and trust that the state will also be able to contribute to this effort. Hopefully one day all of you will be able to visit us there. In the meantime, we continue to rely on your generous help.” Professor Arullani, at the end of his address, presented President Ciampi with a selection of letters from patients at the Campus Biomedico expressing their gratitude for the care and affection they received in the University Hospital.

The President of Italy expressed his sincere congratulations to the university, which can boast of having “a very small percentage of students who have to repeat courses and an extremely high percentage (99%) of students who complete their education in the prescribed time.” The President added: “I note also that the percentage of graduates who find employment after their studies is very high. I cannot but be pleased to see this figure, because, unfortunately, this is not true at all Italian universities. Too often the number of graduates exceeds the requirements of the market. In other cases there are too few doctors in fields that are less popular with students but that are truly needed.”

The Minister for Health described the Campus Biomedico as “an example of how science can be united to ethics, of how attention to the person and respect for human dignity coincide with the highest level of service. In this regard, it is very significant to see the effort the university is making to train professionals in the field of nursing, which in this day and age continues to represent a clear sign of the inseparable union between technical preparation and a human relationship with patients.” The Minister for Education stressed the role of the Campus Biomedico as a model for other universities, since here “great physical and professional energies are directed to the service of the person. This effort can serve as an example for our entire country.”

[1] Homily on page 41.

Romana, n. 37, July-December 2003, p. 76-78.

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