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Grand Hall of the University of Porto - Portrait Gallery

Alexandre Sousa Pinto
University teacher, 5th Rector of the University of Porto and politician

Portrait by Agostinho Salgado
Retrato de Alexandre Sousa Pinto, pintado por Agostinho Salgado / Portrait of Alexandre Sousa Pinto, painted by Agostinho Salgado

Biography of Alexandre Sousa Pinto (1880-1982)

Alexandre Alberto de Sousa Pinto, son of Basílio Alberto de Sousa Pinto (1853-1912) and Maria Eufémia da Luz Semedo (1852-1930), was born in the parish of Pena, in Lisbon, on 25 January 1880.

He spent his childhood and teenage years in Coimbra, where he studied Mathematics and Philosophy. When he completed his studies - in about 1900 -, he ran for a teaching position in the Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic Academy of Porto, in 1902, with a dissertation entitled “Os raios de Becquerel e o Polónio, o Radio e o Actínio por Alexandre Alberto de Sousa Pinto bacharel formado em Matemática e Filosofia.” [The Becquerel Rays and Polonium, Radium and Actinium, by Alexandre Alberto de Sousa Pinto, bachelor in Mathematics and Philosophy]. (Porto, Imprensa Portuguesa, 1902).

In 1903, by decree of 16 April, he was appointed teacher of the 20th Chair – Mineralogy -, which had been created by diploma of 2 September 1901; in 1907, he transferred to the 6th Chair – General Physics.

In 1911, with the creation of the University of Porto and its Faculty of Sciences, Alexandre de Sousa Pinto was appointed ordinary teacher and later Full Professor of the 1st Group – Physics, of the 2nd Department – Physical-Chemical Sciences. In the following years, he taught General Physics, Acoustics, Optics and Heat, Electricity and Physics of Solids and Fluids. In 1918, the Faculty of Sciences awarded him the degree of Doctor of Physics and Chemistry.
Also in 1911, Sousa Pinto was appointed Secretary of the Faculty of Sciences and in the following year he became Director of the Meteorology Observatory of Serra do Pilar, now the Geophysics Institute. Between 1927 and 1938, he ran the Physics Laboratory of FCUP.

In 1928, he took office as Vice-Rector of U.Porto, on 19 September. On 15 December of the same year, he was appointed Rector. The ceremony was held on 17 January 1929. During his term of office as Rector of the University of Porto between 1929 and 1931, his proposal for the regulation of the investiture ceremony of the PhD degree was approved (1929); he undertook missions of the University Senate abroad (1930-1931) and tried, in vain, to resist the extinction of the Faculty of Arts. He founded the Institute of Hydrology and Climatology.

Apart from being an academic, Alexandre de Sousa Pinto was also involved in politics. He was Minister of Public Education between 1933 and 1934, President of the Commission for the Construction of School Hospitals (1934), and Chairman of the National Board of Education (1938), Board member of the Theatre Censorship (1938) and of the Lisbon District Commission of the National Union. He chaired the Executive Committee of the National Union (1938-1945), the Construction Board for Technical and Secondary Education (1938), the Board of Administration of Douro and Leixões Ports 1947), the Board of Administration of the Mozambique Company (1949-1969), the Advisory Board of the National Union (1952-1959) and the National Guild of Raw Cotton Importers (1947-1948 and 1958-1961). He was governor of the Territory of the Mozambique Company and of Manica and Sofala (1942-1945) and a member of the Regulatory Commission of Raw Cotton Trade, representing the Guild (1959-1964).

When he was a Rector, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Education. The ceremony for the unveiling of his portrait in the gallery with the portraits of rectors was held on 13 May 1930.
Retired since 1950 (Official Gazette, 2nd Series, no. 93, of 22 April 1950), he attended the inaugural ceremony of the academic year 1961-62 and delivered the keynote address entitled “A Universidade do Porto e alguns problemas universitários” [The University of Porto and some university problems].

He was married to Maria José de Sousa Vahia da Cunha Lima (1888-1981) and had 5 children.

He died in Porto on 16 April 1982.

Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2012. Scientific Review by Jorge Fernandes Alves (FLUP)

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