In memoriam: Professor Rui Santiago

bildeLast month, we were saddened to hear that one of the professors of the HEEM programme, Professor Rui Santiago passed away. In this post, we commemorate his legacy as a colleague and mentor in the HEEM programme. – the world of higher education has lost a great scholar and a wonderful human being.


Recently the sad news reached us that our esteemed colleague Professor Rui Santiago had passed away. We have cooperated with Rui in a number of settings but remember him especially as one of the pillars of our joint ERASMUS MUNDUS joint degree programme HEEM. Rui did not only play a decisive role in securing the participation of Aveiro University in the HEEM programme. He has also throughout the 7 years of its existence coordinating the parts of the HEEM programme offered in Aveiro, represented Aveiro in the HEEM Board, and supervised many HEEM students’ Master thesis work.

Rui was not only a highly appreciated academic colleague, he was also a warm and caring person whom we always enjoyed to meet personally. We remember for example fondly our first visit to Aveiro for discussing the HEEM programme with the university’s leadership. Before any of the planned meetings had started Rui took us by car to the beach where we spent a wonderful hour drinking coffee, enjoying the sun, and talking about all kinds of things, from the history of the city of Aveiro, Portuguese politics, to the quality of Portuguese red wine (according to Rui white is only good for washing your hands). We arrived relaxed at the subsequent meetings and had very constructive talks with the Aveiro representatives.

We experienced in the subsequent HEEM years that our first visit was no exception. Every HEEM meeting in Aveiro was a special occasion because of Rui’s unique way of combining academic work and special social events. All of us involved in the HEEM programme will dearly miss Rui Santiago.

On behalf of the academic staff involved in the HEEM programme,
Peter Maassen
Timo Aarrevaara


The image I have of Professor Rui is that of a man, extremely kind and sweet, with a smile on his face while talking with solid knowledge about everything. He would come to our office and there was always something to learn. After he left, all of us (mostly PhD students and research assistants) wondered “how is that possible?! He’s not that old! How can he know so many things?”. He will never be forgotten because his behaviour and attitudes inspired us all. He will never be forgotten because he left this world much wealthier and humanised than it was.  Those who had the privilege to meet him know that today we are better students, academics, teachers, human beings because of him. Thank you. Thank you so much.

We lost not only a brilliant intellectual, but above all, an amazing decent person. And this world needs definitely more people like Professor Rui Santiago. Someone whose wisdom and humbleness are so precious and rare making us feeling paradoxically and simultaneously small and happy just by knowing how lucky we are for sharing the same working place.

Professor Rui is remembered every day in those simple moments that make life much sweeter: every time someone sprinkles his/her expresso with cinnamon, every time someone says “I can help you with that”, every time we toast and drink red wine and wish to our friends no less than what we aim for ourselves: the best. Because he was just like that: the best. 

On behalf of HEEM alumni and the PhD group at University of Aveiro, 
Sara Diogo