“You tell me that it will be very expensive to set up an institute like MIT in our country, as if I didn’t know it well enough, but tell me if it is not more expensive for young people to lack quality options or to go to other places to train . To do this we do not need ‘ready portfolios’ as you say, we need determined men who believe that education can do everything, and of those, even if you do not believe it, there are some ”, said Eugenio Garza Sada to the engineer León Ávalos, at the beginning of the 1940s, on the project to create the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Studies (ITESM).
These words without any waste reflect the commitment that Don Eugenio always had with the welfare of his nation and with the improvement of people, without any distinction. A whole philosophy of life that ended up permeating those around him, including the engineer Ávalos, who would eventually become the first rector of ITESM.
47 years after his death, we remember the invaluable contributions of Eugenio Garza Sada to the creation of the Tecnológico de Monterrey and its impact on the progress of education in Mexico.
The best decision
In 1910, it was estimated that 70% of the population was illiterate and only about 2% of Mexicans entered university. The country addressed this lag during the following decades with the creation of the National University of Mexico (1910), the University of Guadalajara (1925) and the National Polytechnic Institute (1936).
During those years, in northern Mexico there were some unsuccessful attempts to consolidate an option for young people from Monterrey who wanted to continue with their higher education, such as the University of Nuevo León, a project headed by the banker Antonio L. Rodríguez, the which had to close in 1934, only a year after its creation, due to ideological differences with the government.
Antonio L. Rodríguez did not give up. With the disappointment and especially the learning that that last experience left him, the banker undertook a new independent academic initiative, but this time he made the decision to go to Eugenio Garza Sada, director of the Cuauhtémoc Brewery, since he considered that his support would be key to formally bringing together a group of businessmen willing to invest in education.
And he was not wrong: the brewery entrepreneur not only ran one of the strongest commercial emporiums in the country, he was also a graduate engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the best universities in the world, had experience in the administration of private schools and stood out for your support for social causes.
Eugenio Garza Sada accepted the challenge and promised to contribute and gather the resources that were needed.
“Big projects must start in the simplest way “
Don Eugenio got to work with the Monterrey businessmen: he informed those who did not know about the initiative, convinced those who were undecided and encouraged those who showed willingness. In a short time, he showed them the importance of Nuevo León having a high school of international quality.
The promises of resources by these leaders were not in the air, because Eugenio Garza Sada wrote down in a small notebook the figures promised to support the Institute. All this work positioned him as the main founding leader of the project.
After months of planning, Don Eugenio came to the conclusion that the school could be inaugurated in 1943. His colleagues disagreed because they considered that an educational institution that intended to compete with the best universities in the world needed more time and better circumstances. to start.
However, Garza Sada maintained his position, communicated that he was not willing to wait for a perfect scenario that could never exist and convinced them to start small and gradually grow. “Big projects should start the easiest way,” he explained.
Thus, on September 6, 1943, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) began classes in an old house on Abasolo 858 Oriente street, in the center of the city.
A friend of Tec
Don Eugenio Garza Sada was very clear that ITESM had to offer a comprehensive education that would allow training young people with academic excellence, capable of competing internationally, entrepreneurs and with leadership qualities, but at the same time making them ethical people with values, whose responsibility it was to contribute to his community.
Such a highly demanding mission demanded many resources, so the Tecnológico had a significant budget deficit during its first decade of existence.
Garza Sada did not let the institution collapse and it was not a few times that his companies or his own portfolio covered the shortfalls: on one occasion, the very concerned rector told him that there was no money to pay the payroll. Don Eugenio wrote down the required amount in his notebook and hours later he returned with a check for the exact amount. “It is the donation of a friend from Tecnológico,” he said as he left.
The rector asked him to wait to make a receipt for the donor, but Garza Sada refused: “My friend doesn’t like those things …”
In 1954, on the façade of the current Rectory of Tecnológico de Monterrey, a mural by the Mexican artist Jorge González Camarena was inaugurated. The work entitled “The Triumph of Culture” is a representation of the victory of civilization and culture over the forces of ignorance, and was a public declaration of the culmination of the founding project of ITESM, begun a decade earlier.
Today that Eugenio Garza Sada’s dream has established itself as the best private university in Mexico, whose educational model has served as inspiration for many higher education institutions, and which is positioned among the best universities in the world, we could say that the Tecnológico de Monterrey is a work that represents “The triumph of Education” and a strong proof of what Don Eugenio affirmed and proved throughout his life: “Education can do everything”.