Professor Mustapha DJAFOUR
Professor Mustapha DJAFOUR, passed away on October 23rd, 2018 at the age of 53, while he was serving asrector of the University of Tlemcen sinceJuly 2015. After completing engineering studies at the University of Sciences and Technology (Oran, Algeria) in 1988, he joined the University of Tlemcen the same year as Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering. In 1993, he took in charge the Center of Numerical Computations at the National Institut of Civil Engineering of Tlemcen for two years, and then he was elected President of the Scientific Council before being appointed as Director of the Institute. He earned his doctorate of Civil Engineering from the University of Tlemcen in 2007. From 2008 to 2015, he served as Vice Rector in charge of External Relations, Cooperation, Communications and Organization of Scientific Events. In July 2015, he was nominated Rector of the University and remained in office until his death the 23rd October, 2018. (more information data can be found in the website: www.association-mustapha-djafour.dz)
During these years, he earned great respect from students and colleagues for his convivial spirit, always trying to keep good relations with everyone, and demonstrating high skills in managingall sorts of academic activities. He had long range and pragmatic vision in essential matters of pedagogicaland scientific nature, associating excellence in research, and impact on the socio economic development, often suggesting innovative approaches to training and applied research. He played a key role in upgrading the position of the university of Tlemcen among the top ones in Algeria, and did all he could to promote its image worldwide. With his long experience at different levels of leadership within the University of Tlemcen, he got the sense of the load of responsibilities he had and demonstrated the firm conviction that the University of Tlemcen could play a major role in promoting Science, Knowledge, and in pushing forward the Economic Development of the region, possibly the country as a whole. In a variety of academic issues, he developed a clear vision setting precise goals, and seeking help from all those, among colleagues who were willing to contribute in planning the Strategic Development of the University. As soon as he was nominated Rector, he asked a panel of experts from different Faculties to write a proposal for Strategic Planning covering all activities of the University. The panel submitted a report of 22 pages, on October 11th 2016, making a variety of suggestions. A short time after, he launched a debate among the eight Faculties on the theme: “Strategic Planning for Scientific Research at the University of Tlemcen,Through Year 2030”. He urged the Vice Rector in charge of Scientific Research to monitor the debates and report regularly their status, andsuggest the type of actions to be taken for further progress. He, himself, chaired several meetings with the Heads of Research Laboratories to discuss their planned strategies for the next ten years. He strongly advocated the idea of forming networks of Research Laboratories, sharing common interests and objectives, with the conviction that this approach could pave the way for the emergence of Poles of Excellence. In particular, he strongly supported the idea that Health Sciences and Environmental Sciences were among the favorite research themes of the University of Tlemcen, and efforts should be made to strengthen the capabilities in these domains in an attempt to push forward the status of the University, and put it in a position of Leadership Nationwide and perhaps in Africa, to which he gave the priority for partnership. He mentioned several arguments to support his views by citing, for example, the information disseminated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (DGRSDT: General Directorate of Scientific Research and Technological Development),showing that over the 5-years period (2014-2018), the number of publications of the University of Tlemcen in Health Sciences was highest compared to those of other Universities in Algeria. He knew that two major actions should be taken. One is to encourage active researchers,by improving their conditions of work, and by other incentives, like giving them Certificates of Recognition for their achievements. On June 12th 2018, he chaired a ceremony honoring the 15 top researchers of the University,collecting the highest numbers of publications over the 5 years,from 2014 to 2018. He welcomed suggestions along these lines, and often asked for advice, and help from colleagues who were willing to contribute in a variety of matters related to the activities and functions of the University, whether of pedagogical nature, research or else.
Shortly after the ceremony honoring the most productive researchers, he invited a group of a dozen of people involved directly or indirectly in the communication system, to discuss the opportunity to launch a debate involving the eight faculties, with the aim of setting a Strategy of Communications for the next ten years. He was deeply convinced that the University of Tlemcen has strengths in many domains, great potentials in research, but the existing information system does not exhibit these capabilities, which implies that often, its ranking among Universities in the world, reported regularly by specialized institutions, is simply erroneous, and something should be done to correct this unfair situation. Setting a good Strategy of Communications and Innovation of the Information Network is part of his efforts, and vision to improve the image of the University in the society, and upgrade its position among the known and respected Universities in the world.
Professor DJAFOUR gave a primary importance to issues of Ethics and Deontology in Academia. He was aware of the big challenges facing the University of Tlemcen in these crucial matters, but at the same time, he realized that similar ethical problems arise in all Universities in Algeria, because of their rapid growth, the increasing demands for better conditions of work and the necessity of improving the quality of training. He asked Professor Abdesslam BENDIABDALLAH, from the Faculty of Economics, to take in charge the Committee of Ethics and Deontology (CEDUT), complete its composition making sure that the eight Faculties be represented and resume its activities. In less than two years, the Committee had to examine at least six delicate questions, involving students and faculty members. The Committee benefited from full support from Professor DJAFOUR and could implement the tasks under very good conditions, which helped the committee to respond to all inquiries and treat successfully all the cases submitted to its referring process, in spite of their complexities, satisfying all the parties involved. In some cases, the Committee sent letters of recognition to those involved in the disputes, thanking them for their contribution to ease the conflicts,respecting the rules of ethics and deontology, serving as an example for the academic community, and improving substantially the image of the University in the society.
In this short tribute to my colleague and friend Professor Mustapha DJAFOUR, to whom I felt a great sympathy and respect, I left many other important issues like the NANOMEDECINE project to which he devoted a tremendous energy, doing all he could until the last moments of his life, to make it a reality, and pave the way for its success. He was able to convince both scientists and policy makers, at the local and national levels, that this project was a unique opportunity for the University of Tlemcen to take the leadership in this topic at the cutting edge of medical research.
October 14th, 2019
Physics Department; Faculty of Sciences