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Sara Topelson and Miguel Ángel Verdugo awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Anahuac

 knowledge Liderazgo Anáhuac en Excelencia Académica

In a solemn ceremony held at the Centro Cultural Mexiquense, we highlighted our honorees' human and professional trajectories in architecture and education.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 28, 2023, Anahuac Mexico University awarded Honorary Doctorates, the highest academic degree bestowed by this Institution, to two outstanding individuals for their contributions to Architecture and Education.

The Angel and Tere Losada Theater opened its doors to Mrs. Sara Topelson Frydman and Mr. Miguel Angel Verdugo Alonso, who were welcomed into the artistic heart of the Anahuac: the Mexiquense Cultural Center.
The distinguished academic committee comprised of school and faculty directors and the University's Rectoral Committee, chaired by the Rector, Dr. Cipriano Sanchez Garcia, L.C., entered the venue to the music of the hymn Veni, Creator. This song evokes the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, counsel, fortitude, fear, piety, science and intelligence.

Once the Rector had opened the session, Dr. Sonia Barnetche presented the Honorary Doctorate Award Ceremony, highlighting Architect Sara Topelson Frydman’s human and professional trajectory in architecture, urban planning, heritage conservation and teaching. Dr. Miguel Angel Verdugo Alonso was recognized for his personal merits and contributions to developing knowledge and international research dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Those attending this academic ceremony received the honorees with a standing ovation. Members of the Anahuac Community, teachers, and doctors dressed in caps and gowns, proudly wearing the colors that reflect their area of knowledge around their necks, watched these outstanding individuals, inspired by their perseverance and determination for the "cause of honor", which transcends the threshold of history.

Alberto Simán Dada, L.C., president of the Board of Directors; Dr. Cipriano Sánchez García, L.C., Rector of the University; Dr. Sonia Barnetche Frías, General Secretary; Dr. Lorena Rosalba Martínez Verduzco, Academic Vice Rector; Dr. Jose Rodrigo Pozón López, Academic Vice Rector; Dr. Francesca Munda Magill, Director of the School of Education and Humanities, and Gerardo Broissin Covarrubias, Director of the School of Architecture, made up the honorable presidium that accompanied this afternoon's honorees.

Under the direction of the Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Alfonso Torres Maldonado, Mr. Gerardo Broissin Covarrubias, director of the School of Architecture, in his capacity as sponsor, lauded his candidate as an outstanding Mexican academic and civil servant whose mark on the world of architecture is undeniable.

After highlighting her multiple studies endorsed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), he also commented on her professional achievements, such as the founding of the firm Grinberg & Topelson Arquitectos which has developed more than 400 projects, in addition to prestigious awards: First Prize Housing Project for the Community Development Center (CIDECO) in Lerma, State of Mexico (1986), first place in the Competition for the House of France in Mexico City in association with Architect Paul Andreu (2002), first place in the Public Library Competition for the State of Jalisco (2005), the Obras Cemex Award 2006 and the National Housing Award 2021 in Mexico.

In the academic field, she has worked as a professor at several public and private universities. In recognition of this activity, Topelson Frydman was awarded the Academic Merit Medal for more than 25 years of teaching at Anahuac Mexico University. In addition, she has held important positions in trade unions and public spheres. She was the first woman to lead the International Union of Architects (UIA), director of Architecture and Conservation of the Artistic Heritage of INBA, undersecretary of Urban Development and Land Management at the former Sedesol and president of the Urban Land Institute ULI-Mexico.

This was followed by Dr. Francesca Munda Magill, Director of the Faculty of Education and Humanities, who, as sponsor, delivered the Laudation to introduce her candidate. His studies include General Basic Education and Therapeutic Pedagogy, a Specialization in Speech Therapy, and a Master's Degree in Education with supervision in Special Education. He also trained as a psychologist specializing in Clinical Psychology and consolidated his academic training with a Ph.D. in Psychology.

Verdugo Alonso has consolidated essential lines of research related to people with disabilities, specialized postgraduate training for researchers and professionals in the field of disability, the promotion of interdisciplinary collaboration in research and specialized training activities, advice and support to public institutions and non-governmental organizations, as well as the development of assistance activities and innovative support programs. His scientific output includes more than 700 articles and book chapters, and he is the author of more than 100 books related to disability and evaluation scales.

In recognition of their outstanding careers and humanism, the honorees received their Doctorate medals, laureate caps, white gloves and the title of Honorary Doctors from the Rector himself. An official photograph was taken of them together, which will form part of the records of this academic institution.

During his speech entitled, "Building an inclusive society for All," Dr. Miguel Angel Verdugo pointed out that knowledge and social advancement require teamwork and sharing human and professional values, such as understanding the value and dignity of individuals, respect for rights, the relevance of individual self-determination, and confidence in the potential and capacity for improvement of all individuals.

"The world of disability has been undergoing a positive transition for years, with progress in the recognition and exercise of the rights of people on an equal footing with any other citizen. However, this transition has been extremely slow due to changes in ideas and conceptions that take too long to materialize in fairer realities for the population," he reflected.

In this respect, he acknowledged the teams of professors and training programs of Anahuac Mexico University that focus on people with disabilities, which, he said, "are effective and helpful in making progress in the knowledge and training of future professionals."

Finally, he proposed a theory of change with an approach that proposes a support delivery system aligned with the pursuit of quality of life at three levels: best professional practices and active participation to enable the provision of support with a person-centered outcome; identifying and promoting the responsibility of educational centers and social organizations; and advancing public policies in their definition, planning, promotion and incentivization.

Architect Sara Topelson Frydman also addressed the attendees, expressing her gratitude for this recognition: "I am moved because it shows the generosity with which others view the work carried out, and I am intimidated because honors like this make me see that my professional career is well underway."
She also highlighted the achievements of the inclusion of women in the field of architecture and the contribution of the schools of this science in training professionals of excellence with a vision that has multiplied in recent decades.

Likewise, she thanked the Anahuac, which she referred to as her center of work, development and growth for almost 30 years, and its rectors, from Dr. Faustino Pardo, L.C., to Dr. Cipriano Sanchez, L.C., who she said has strengthened and stimulated the diversity and educational options offered by the University.

As a reflection, she recalled that throughout one's professional career, it is essential to enjoy the ride and not just celebrate the joy of reaching the finish line. "The ride is what builds us day by day and during which we can, to some extent, contribute to our peers, our profession, our city, and our University to continue building a better world every day. I believe there are days in a person's life that can honestly be described as unforgettable, and I will never forget today. I have been moved by this ceremony and I want to say thank you," she said.

Our Rector, Dr. Cipriano Sánchez, addressed the attendees, referring to the honorees as two great representatives of the construction of our world.

Psalm 127 was the basis of his speech, which speaks of those who must be concerned about the city's construction and recognizes that it is impossible to build a city of men and women if it is not based on the recognition of the Lord as the first builder. He explained that the University becomes a place of dialogue between those who seek excellence in Architecture and those who seek it in research into individuals with disabilities because, "after all, we are all in the same boat, and we have to know how to coordinate how we row," he added.

He concluded by clarifying that Anahuac University is working to rebuild personal projects and social spheres to unleash synergies that will build a solid institution capable of welcoming all people. He added, "The University is built on a rock of dignity and the inalienable value that lies behind every human activity undertaken to achieve an ideal that we reflect in our motto: to be men and women who overcome evil with good."

The reading of the Anahuac Promise concluded this ceremony for the investiture of the Honorary Doctors. Once the Rector had closed the session, he bid farewell to the honorable members of the Presidium and the new doctors with the hymn Gaudeamus Igitur, "Let us rejoice, then."

You can watch the entire ceremony here:

*Collaboration with Arizbeth Monserrat Rivera Cabrera.


For more information:
Irán Gutiérrez Méndez
Institutional Publications Coordinator
Department of Institutional Communications