"I can count on a competent administration and services".

Since March1, Bruno Fabre, former vice-president of the Board of Directors, has been Director General of Services (DGS) at the University of Montpellier. An original profile for a highly strategic position, which this professor of management science took the time to explain to us.

You've just taken up your post as DGS of the University of Montpellier. Can you tell us about the role of a DGS?

The Director General of Services is, to use a metaphor, the administrative orchestra conductor. His scope of action encompasses not only central services, but also services in the UFRs, schools and institutes, as well as research units. His role is twofold: to participate in the definition of institutional policy and its deployment in the administrative and technical sense of the term.

So it's as much a political role as an administrative one?

Exactly! We tend to forget the political dimension, but it's clearly enshrined in the texts governing the position of DGS. Alongside the president and vice-presidents, he or she participates in defining the establishment's policy, even if he or she is not an elected official. This is what differentiates him from what used to be called general secretaries, who had no such political dimension.

As you just said, you're not an elected official, so how were you recruited?

The procedure is based on a call for candidates published on PEP, the Place de l'emploi public. Once the application has been accepted, the University President proposes the candidate's name to the Minister of Higher Education and Research, who appoints him or her.

Is this position limited in time?

I'm on secondment to the same university for four years, renewable once.

At the UM, we know you as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors (VP-CA). A position you held between 2015 and 2022. Why did you move to the " other side "?

I take on this responsibility with a great deal of humility, and if I applied for this mission, it's firstly because I know I can count on a competent administration and services. Secondly, it's true that as VP CA I worked on most of the files with the DGS. Each with a well-defined but complementary role. Today, I know the files well, so why not move over to the " other side " to implement a policy I helped define as VP CA? Besides, I like challenges, and this one is a way of renewing myself while extending my action.

At the UM, we also know you as a professor of management sciences, notably at the IAE. Is this the first time the University has appointed a teacher-researcher (EC) to this key position?

It's true, it's a first. It's good that in the history of an establishment there can be a succession of DGSs with varied profiles. Pascal Beauregard came from a university administration background. Romain Jacquet was deputy director of a hospital, and I'm a teacher-researcher.

This is an unusual choice for a French public administration. Has anyone commented on it?

Some may fear this, or see it as a challenge to the skills available within the administration. But this is not the case. I believe that a diversity of profiles can only be a plus, and the IGESR report on the DGS function is a step in this direction.

What do you mean by that?

The DGS must be able to address the entire university community. This applies not only to administrative and technical staff, but also to lecturers, teachers and researchers. However, the report points to a tension in this dialogue and calls for a decompartmentalization between administrative and teaching-research staff. For example, we have to carry out many of the reforms stemming from the multi-year research law (LPR), and being a teacher-researcher makes things easier, because I speak the same language and I know their situation.

You also have to speak the language of the BIATS?

Absolutely, and it just so happens that in my previous functions, notably at the former UM2, I was delegate vice-president in charge of BIATS between 2012 and 2014. I have a sincere appetite for administrative and technical issues, and those who have worked with me can testify to that, but I'll only be judged by the facts.

In your previous functions, we also find several times the title of provisional administrator...

Yes, three times. I was provisional administrator of the Béziers IUT in the early 2000s, when it became a full-fledged IUT. Then in 2016, when the AES (administration, économique et sociale) and Isem (Institut des sciences de l'entreprise de Montpellier) merged to form Moma. And finally in 2018, when the President appointed me administrator of the Faculty of Law and Political Science for 9 months.

You've arrived at a time when the way we work has been profoundly shaken by the health crisis. Has this changed things for you?

The health crisis has called into question our working methods and social relations. It has sometimes distended social relations. We need to recreate links, but I'm very optimistic in this respect, as new forms of solidarity have also emerged during the health crisis, as demonstrated by the remarkable mobilization of teachers-researchers, administrative and technical staff in the central services and in the components to ensure that training continues to be provided for students.

The time has come to get together again. It's time to get back to the conviviality of our departments, to meet and exchange ideas... It's very important.