Professor Was Approved by Business Partners for a Faculty Position and in his Doctoral Defense

Prédio do Departamento de Engenharia Hidráulica e Ambiental da Escola Politécnica de Engenharia da Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Foto: Marcos Santos/USP Imagens/Divulgação (http://www.imagens.usp.br).

Building of the Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP). Photo: Marcos Santos/USP Imagens.

(Translation of “Docente da USP foi aprovado por sócios
em concurso público e em doutorado”,
Aug. 11 2016)

MAURÍCIO TUFFANI,
Editor

The Public Prosecution of the State of São Paulo is investigating the participation of engineering Professors of the University of São Paulo (USP) and of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) in the masters and doctoral defense committees and one hiring committee, during the same period in which they were partners in a company.

Unicamp, already started an administrative disciplinary process for misconduct of two professors of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism. They acted as examiners not only in the hiring committee that indicated a partner of both for hiring by the Polytechnic School of USP, but also in his doctoral defense with a third partner, who approved the same candidate, founder in 2001 of the company that the four had participation.

According to documents examined by Direto da Ciência in the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Campinas, the investigation at the Public Prosecution and at Unicamp also refer to the participation of five partners of Hidrasoft Engenharia e Informática company in at least nine masters and doctoral defense committees.

 

Defense Committees

The Professors Paulo Sergio Franco Barbosa and Alberto Luiz Francato of Unicamp, participated in the hiring committee from first to fourth of December 2008, composed of five members, which indicated the hiring of Professor Renato Carlos Zambon. Questioned about the fact that the two cited examiners and the candidate have been business partners of Hidrasoft Engenharia e Informática, the Dean of the Polytechnic School of USP, José Roberto Castilho Piqueira, did not comment.

Piqueira was also questioned about the doctoral defense committee* of Zambon on April 29 of that year. Besides Barbosa and Francato, the defense committee included the participation of João Eduardo Gonçalves Lopes, also a partner of the same company, which was founded in 2001 by the candidate.

In a statement through his press office, the Dean of the Polytechnic School of USP said that the defense committee composition “strictly followed the rules of the Graduate School of USP”. The defense committee was composed by five members with doctoral degree, with more than two of them outside the institution, adding that there was no family relationship between the candidate and the defense committee members. The Dean of the Polytechnic School of USP also stated:

The rules of the Statute of USP were followed in the composition of the defense committee and in its performance during the defense procedure. There was no report that would justify taking any action.

 

USP notified

The rectory of USP did not say what actions would have been taken from the notification of these facts by the Unicamp sent on February 22 this year.

Established in 2001, USP’s Code of Ethics states that the university authorities are required to promote the investigation of acts of misconduct and administrative offenses and also the following.

Article 12 – No employee faculty or non-faculty should participate in decisions involving the selection, hiring, promotion or termination of contract by the University, of a family member or of a person, whose personal relationship compromises independent judgment.

This restriction and other principles of the USP Code of Ethics also apply, as established by Article 19, for members of committees outside the institution.

 

Closed after complaint

The investigations into the role in the defense committees of members of Hidrasoft Engenharia e Informática started from complaints filed April to December 2015 by Professors Andre Munhoz Argollo Ferrao, Antonio Carlos Zuffo and Vinicius Fernando Arcaro, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism of Unicamp. The company closed its registration with the IRS in September last year.

Questioned by Direto da Ciência, the three authors of complaints about the role of Hidrasoft partners, preferred not to comment until the conclusion of the Administrative Disciplinary Process by Unicamp and the work of the prosecutors. They added that only appealed to the prosecutor because the university would have taken too long to take any action.

Unicamp said through its press office that the Administrative Disciplinary Process, determined by the rector José Tadeu Jorge on February 25 this year, happened before the university had been questioned by the Public Prosecution in May.

 

Without answers

Direto da Ciência did not get answers to questions sent by e-mails since Friday (Aug. 5) to Professors Alberto Luiz Francato and Paulo Sergio Franco Barbosa and researcher collaborator João Eduardo Gonçalves Lopes, from Unicamp, nor from Professors of USP Renato Carlos Zambon and his doctoral advisor, Mario Thadeu Leme de Barros, who was also a partner of Hidrasoft Engenharia e Informática, but was not on the hiring committee of his former doctoral student.

Besides not having been contacted by attempts of telephone calls from the journalist since Friday, Francato, Barbosa, Zambon and Barros did not return the messages recorded yesterday, Wednesday (Aug. 10) by employees of the departments where they work. Lopes did not respond to calls to another company that lists his name nor to his residence, where a message was left that was not answered.

The four Professors from USP and Unicamp were also questioned if they, for their role in the company that they were partners, have not violated the rules of their contracts with the public universities.

* Link corrected on Friday (Aug. 12) at 09:10 pm. The previously link erroneously pointed to the doctoral defense committee of João Eduardo Gonçalves Lopes, defended on April 13 2007, under the advise of Professor Mario Thadeu Leme de Barros, having as members of the doctoral defense committees, the Professors Alberto Luiz Francato and Paulo Sergio Franco Barbosa, all four partners of Hidrasoft Engenharia e Informática.

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