From left to right: Manuel Freire-Garabal Núñez, member of the CGU Executive Committee; Marc Richelle, first president of the CGU; Maurits van Rooijen, member of the CGU Executive Committee; and Michel Cooper, second president of the CGU.

The Compostela Group of Universities is deeply saddened by the death of its first President, Marc Richelle, Belgian academic with an outstanding career in the field of psychology.

The Executive Committee of the Compostela Group of Universities (CGU) learned today about the decease of the first President of its international network, Marc Richelle, who as an academic gained international recognition for his advances in the field of psychology.

He was one of the co-founders of the CGU and participated in the meetings before its creation in September 1993, where the association’s project and objectives were defined. A year later, the constituent assembly of the CGU took place at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and after the event, he was elected President of the network. A position he held between 1995 and 1999.

In his speech on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the CGU, Richelle recalled this stage of genesis, in which the founders made “viable what could have been seen as a utopia”, giving birth to “a network of universities located on any of the many pilgrimage routes to Compostela throughout Europe”.

Looking back at that time, CGU co-founder and second President, Michael Cooper,  says that “he was an excellent President and an essential stimulus in determining the initial direction of the Group. Marc was a thoughtful and dedicated leader of great academic standing. I was very honoured when, after his first term as President, he asked me if I would be prepared to stand for election as the next President but at the same time felt that it would be difficult to follow him”.

CGU co-founder and third President, Maurits van Rooijen, points out that “he not only ensured the foundation stones for the Group were put in place but even more important: he set its ‘tone’. He added to the DNA of the CGU a human factor which I can only describe as ‘warmth’ and which also so much reflected his amicable personality. The Group owes so much to him and on a personal level; we shall miss this lovely man enormously”.

“Our lives’ script includes chance encounters that allow us to meet people who will make those moments of full happiness possible and undoubtedly mark our destinies. A scientific congress held at USC in 1992 was the beginning of a long friendship with Marc, thanks to which I enjoyed the best human, academic and scientific qualities that any of us could wish from someone close”, adds the co-founder and actual member of the CGU’s Executive Committee, Manuel Freire-Garabal.

Meanwhile, CGU’s Vice-President, Inmaculada Fortanet, explains that she met him in 1997 when she joined the association’s Executive Committee. “At that time, we were starting; everything was done with much enthusiasm and we had so many plans… He was our President, the best representative and the main believer in the future of our Group. Today he is already part of history and he will always be in our heart”, she notes.

“Marc Richelle believed in a Europe without borders, and in a common and prestigious university system. A strong conviction that he guided, together with colleagues from the University of Santiago de Compostela, towards the creation of what would be an incomparable network”, points out the member of the Executive Committee and Rector of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Antonio López.

“Marc was one of the founding members and first president of the Compostela Group of Universities, from 1995 to 1999. He was able to envisage the importance of a network of universities located on any of the many pilgrimage routes to Compostela, and we are permanently in debt with him because of his brilliant proposal”, explained the Vice-chancellor for Students and International Projection of the USC, Víctor Arce.

In 2009, the Compostela Group of Universities awarded him its Golden Pin as a sign of appreciation for his key role in the birth of the network, as well as in defining its identity and values.

Short biography

Marc Richelle was born on 28 February 1930 in Verviers (Belgium). In 1959, he received his doctorate in Psychology from the University of Liège, where he taught Experimental Psychology for 30 years (1965-1995). Later he was appointed Professor Emeritus of the Chair of Experimental Psychology by the same institution.

Richelle held the Presidency of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium (2009-2010), where he later became a member emeritus in the category of Letters and Moral and Political Sciences. Besides, he was co-founder and first President of the international network Compostela Group of Universities (1995-1999).

Among other recognitions, he received the Prix scientifique Ernest-John Solvay in 1990 and was named doctor honoris causa by the universities of Lille 3 -Charles de Gaulle (France), Geneva (Switzerland), Coimbra (Portugal), Lleida (Spain) and Lisbon (Portugal). He was also a foreign member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences (Portugal) and the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (Spain).

He also stood out as the author of works related to cultural anthropology and intercultural psychology, the psychology of language, the psychology of intelligence and creativity, the psychology of time, experimental and general psychology, and the methodology and theory of the psychological sciences.