The Colonel who became a Teacher (1933-1963)
Designated by his predecessor Diego Mendoza, on his deathbed, to succeed him as Rector of the Externado, Ricardo Hinestrosa, Externadista Law graduate, took office after being appointed by the University Board of Directors. He brought to the office a valuable background of defense of freedoms and the exercise of the Law within democratic criteria and social justice.
The former Colonel of the Thousand Days’ War, who understood life would not make sense without freedom, was an integral humanist, who believed culture is the trait making us truly human, as it allows us to interpret reality beyond primary expressions. In this way, equating the good and the just with the beautiful, he made his Chair an area of universal knowledge.
Without ever leaving the country, Hinestrosa Daza was fluent in English, French, Italian, and German, allowing him to read legal and literary works in their original language, translate texts for his students and even, sing his favorite operas in their vernacular language. He was an art and poetry critic, math teacher and together with his lifelong friend, Baldomero Sanín Cano, nurtured intellectual gatherings.
As a Supreme Court Judge in 1935, Ricardo Hinestrosa Daza contributed with his judgments and rulings to legally underpin the government transformations proposed by President Alfonso López Pumarejo, to modernize Colombia and model institutions for a more just, equitable, and democratic country.
Also, he also knew how to administer the Externado inheritance, to the point he was able to buy a home for the University that had been born penniless.
Towards the end of his rectory, followed by his students, he stood firmly against the threats of closure by the successive civilian and military dictatorships that from 1946 broke the course of a free and peaceful Colombia.
In 1957, he headed the creation of ASCUN, the Colombian Association of Universities, to defend University autonomy and improve the quality of higher education; he was the first President of the organization.