Unfolding the Story of a Doctor, an Educator and a Diplomat

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Professor Emeritus of UNAIR Faculty of Medicine (FK), Prof. Dr. H.R. Soedarso Djojonegoro, dr., AIF. during interview with UNAIR NEWS. (Photo: UNAIR NEWS)

UNAIR NEWS – Professor Emeritus of UNAIR Faculty of Medicine Prof. Dr. H.R. Soedarso Djojonegoro, dr., AIF, is still actively teaching and testing students’ final exam until now. The eighty four year old lecturer of physiology department FK UNAIR has just released a book called Jalan Pengabdian: Catatan Seorang Dokter, Pendidik, dan Diplomat dalam Mencetak Generasi Bangsa (The Line of Dedication: Stories of a Doctor, an Educator and a Diplomat in Creating Generation of Nation).

Prof. Soedarso has been number one person in the university. The man born in Pamekasan, on December 8 1931, has been named to be a Rector for two terms, 1984-1989, 1989-1993. Before named as rector, he was UNAIR secretary and Vice Rector III overseeing academic and student affairs.

There are lessons we could learn from his story. Few days ago, UNAIR News Room had a chance to interview him. He shared some of his stories, from his career to his hopes for UNAIR in the future. Here is the full interview.

What’s the difference between the first and the second term of your leadership as UNAIR Rector?

It was not clearly seen actually. But the physical development was different. In the first term, I manage the land acquisition and start building Campus C. In the second term, I continued the physical development as optimum as it could be.

At that time, I focused on building the management office in Campus C. At first I want to build eight story building but it could only be realized five stories. The administrative work was taking too long, finally it was stopped by the government. That was what mattered about changes.

Kinds of activity in 1984 were not in many variations compared to present day. While on research, during my leadership there was always improvement.

In book review session you talked about student affairs at that time. Who did they stage their protest for and what were their demands?

Alhamdulillah there were not any strikes. At that time, Indonesian students went on strike against the government’s policy. The student organizations management could not stand out as of now. They focused on facing the government. That’s why there was campus normalization. But as far as I know, it never caused chaos as the one happened in Makassar.

How did the management handle the student affairs at that time?

I implemented policy which did not let democracy run out of control. As that time, the state implemented guided democracy (demokrasi terpimpin). It’s okay to stage a protest but it should be in order. At that time, I was Vice Rector III for three terms.

I always said, if they went on strike they had to ask for permission. We always supervised them. Not like other university. If they had a permission, they could go on strike but we always advised them to avoid conflict with the authorities. They often went on strike. Even my son used to face the authorities in front of the regional government office in Indrapura.
I went there directly but not as a leader. So there was still reluctance between the students and the authorities.

How did professor become a diplomat?

So, after 1993, I had been the rector and got back to Physiology Department. In 1994, the Indonesian ambassador for France’s term of office was over. So the next ambassador should be chosen. The tradition at that time, ambassadors were usually elected from former rectors. Fortunately, I was a former rector at that moment. So I was requested by the Depatment of Foreign Affairs to be the ambassador, proposed to the President and he agreed.

How was the transition between a doctor, a rector, and an ambassador? What tasks were given to professor at that time?

All candidates of ambassadors had to undergo training. What can be done and what cannot, all have been regulated by the protocols. The tasks were done with my subordinates. And communication with Department of Foreign Affairs should always be maintained.

When I was an ambassador, the issue was East Timor disintegration. It was still in Indonesia’s territory. The rebels wanted its freedom with Portuguese assistance. That was the boulder of my term of office in France. It became a great issue at global level and I was obliged to maintain the state good reputation.

I was stationed in France from 1995 to 1999, almost for two terms. It should have ended in 2001 but I submitted my resignation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Alatas to get back to campus.

I was happier in academic life than in politics. Finally, my resignation was accepted and fortunately there was already a replacement.

What did you do once you were back in campus?

I became a lecturer. I taught again until January 2002, I was already 79 years old. I retired. Despite my retirement, until now, 2016, I was awarded Emeritus Professor and still teaching. Teaching gives me the advantage, as I can use this brain of mind to function and avoid senility.

I am still testing because I still have promovendus. At this moment I am not conducting a research. Let the young do it. I still have master and doctoral students in UNAIR and Unesa (Universitas Negeri Surabaya).

Until now I still go to FK UNAIR routinely. I also manage Blind Children Education Foundation and in the Board of Trustees of Universitas Wijaya Kusuma.

At the moment, UNAIR was appointed by the government to reach Top 500 World University. In your opinion, What needs to be improved by UNAIR?

To put it simply, to achieve the dream, the quality of the human resources (SDM) should be improved. It always be added value of world class university. By improving its human resources, researches and other fields will follow. Therefore, either the university or faculty officials should improve their human resources’ quality. (*)

Author: Defrina Sukma S.
Editor: Rio F. Rachman

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