UNIL’s General Secretary monitors the work of the Rectorate to provide the successive teams that lead the institution with the administrative and organisational resources they need to fulfil their duties properly. Marc de Perrot has occupied this strategic post for almost 20 years, serving Rectors Jean-Marc Rapp, Dominique Arlettaz and Nouria Hernandez and working with five Rectorate teams: the current configuration, led by Rector Frédéric Herman, is his sixth.
"Don’t you get tired?” we ask the former UNIL student, who studied Classics and has solid experience of working both in the field and at the headquarters of the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC). “I like working for large organisations that serve the public interest; my life at UNIL often produces situations that are just as demanding as those I once faced in the field. Regardless of the context, my relationships with other people are always front and centre of what I do; making sure they understand and feel as though they have a stake in the institution’s actions is the best way of ensuring they make an active contribution to our common goals,” he explains, conscious that since 2003, it has been his job to provide the necessary continuity for each new team, particularly during periods of transition. He has often embodied new ideas and his extensive experience means he is now well placed to support both change and those who want to make their vision for UNIL a reality.
A constant throughout his career – and one that reflects his literary education – has been working with and on texts, strategic documents, emails and public speaking points – all ways of using words to establish the institution’s position, set a direction, remind, correct and clarify. Both actions and words are important in supporting the relationship between the Rectorate and UNIL’s faculties and departments, the student population, the political authorities, the city and canton, as well as the general public.
“There is an expectation about an institution when it is as strong as this one and people sometimes have a tendency to invest all their ideals in it. We need to put these views in context and allow them to exist without harming the university community as a whole, in a way that makes UNIL’s position as an independent, responsible institution clear and defensible to the society that funds it, in terms of its primary statutory missions,” concludes Marc de Perrot.