Memos to the Quadricentennial Rector

UNIVERSITY officials have one fervent wish for the “comeback Rector”: good health so that he would be able to fulfill the demanding job of head of Asia’s oldest university.

Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. will have his hands full as he assumes the Rectorship anew, with college deans and other administrators proposing an ambitious agenda to keep UST’s place as one of the region’s top institutions of higher learning.

“As I look at Father de la Rosa’s job, it seems to be a gigantic task since there are many expectations from different colleges, so I really wish him good health so he can be able to do his job,” newly installed Alfredo M. Velayo-College of Accountancy Dean Minerva Cruz said.

In a statement to the Varsitarian, College of Education Dean Clotilde Arcangel also wished De la Rosa “continuous good health, peace of mind, and prosperity.”

Describing the two-term University Rector from 1990 to 1998 as a “leader who has always been supportive,” College of Fine Arts and Design Dean Jaime de los Santos wished that De la Rosa “be always in good health.”

Faculty of Engineering Dean Peter Lim has modest expectations, and hopes that the new rector, who has aged a bit ten years after leaving the University’s top post, will remain in good shape.

The agenda ahead of the University’s quadricentennial in 2011 includes the introduction of new academic programs, improvements in the University’s infrastructure, and other projects to raise UST’s national and international prominence and promote its role as a social catalyst.

These things are not new to De la Rosa, whose previous two-term rectorship oversaw a strategy of academic amelioration that helped the University gain the most number of centers of excellence and development, and produced the best record in professional licensure examinations among other private higher educational institutions.

For starters, the College of Rehabilitation Sciences wants a new program under its banner, but needs more facilities.

“Two years ago, Rehabilitation Sciences submitted a proposal paper to offer Speech Pathology,” College Secretary Michael Jorge Peralta said. “We are completing the four programs of Rehabilitation Sciences of which we already have: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Sports Science and hopefully Speech Pathology.”

Rehabilitation Sciences has conducted a feasibility study with the help of some Engineering students, to find out if there is a “market” for the program.

“The feasibility study showed that there is a market for Speech Pathology but the problem is, UST lacks facilities,” Peralta said.

Due to insufficient classrooms and facilities in the college, the opening of the program was delayed.

“Particularly, more classrooms are needed to house (Speech Pathology). We hope that (Father De la Rosa) would be able to hear our call in order to pursue the new program,” Peralta said, adding that the opening of the program would “add to the prestige” of the University.

The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery is pushing for the renovation of the anatomy laboratory and a new clinical skills facility laboratory.

“The clinical skills laboratory is a legacy of the Medicine class of ’67, which we hope to start immediately,” Dean Ma. Graciela Gonzaga said. “The Rector can help facilitate the building of the clinical skills lab and remind various offices to hasten the process for the renovation and building of an additional floor for the clinical skills facility.”

The Conservatory of Music and the Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (ITHM) hope to have bigger spaces.

Music Dean Raul Sunico said the lack of facilities has always been the problem of past Music deans.

“We are currently sharing facilities with the Elementary Department and they have been turning over classrooms once every year. But this help is not enough,” Sunico said.

When Music students staged Die Fledermaus last January 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, De la Rosa liked the production and wanted to bring the concert to the University but “our facilities are lacking,” Sunico added.

The ITHM’s plan to move to Isabel Building in front of UST on España Boulevard was left hanging when former rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. resigned.

“Hopefully, we would be able to move to Isabel Building so we could accommodate more students and would no longer need to share most of the facilities with Education,” ITHM Secretary Fredeswindo Medina said.

An estimated 1,700 ITHM students share classrooms with Education and Elementary students. If the relocation pushes through, ITHM will be able to increase its sections to 10 from five, Medina said.

The institute also wants to open a hotel at the building to train its students.

“If the good Rector has time to talk to us, we would be more than willing to (share) our concerns and (explain) the potentials of ITHM, the demand for hospitality education, and the contributions we could give to UST,” Medina said.

College of Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez said “there were plans for Architecture during the time of Arceo which were shelved because of there change in administration.”

Fernandez said the plan was for the UST Publishing House to likewise move to Isabel Building to give more room to the college and its other neighbor at the Beato Angelico Building, the College of Fine Arts and Design.

“(Should the Publishing House transfer), Architecture and Fine Arts would introduce a horizontal separation (in the building) because at present we are divided vertically,” Fernandez said.

Both Architecture and Fine Arts hope the horizontal separation pushes through as it will help secure accreditation, considering that “there will be no (more) mixture” of Architecture and Fine Arts students in one floor, Fernandez added.

However, the boundary could not be drawn for now because Architecture stands to lose drafting rooms if it occupies the lower floors of the Beato Angelico Building, Fernandez said.

“The remaining rooms at the lower floors of Beato are all lecture classrooms. If we will occupy them, the best way for us to create laboratory classrooms is to convert the Publishing House into drafting rooms. If the Publishing House would not transfer, we will lose three to four classrooms,” Fernandez said.

Due to Arceo’s resignation, the plan to move the Publishing House out of Beato Angelico was delayed, leaving the horizontal separation of the building hanging.

“Initially, that was the plan but when the administration changed, everything was shelved because everything had to be reviewed. (Architecture) does not look at it as a bad thing but probably (with De la Rosa’s support), we can find a better solution,” Fernandez said.

Horizontal separation would be like that of the St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, where the Faculty of Arts and Letters occupies the first and second floors, and the College of Commerce and Business Administration, the third and fourth floors.

Officials are also seeking the new Rector’s support for a number of projects.

Commerce hopes that De la Rosa will backstop the establishment of its proposed “Incubation Facility” or “Entrepreneurship Business Center.”

As directed by Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Memorandum Order No. 17, series of 2005, an incubation facility is a minimum requirement for Entrepreneurship schools.

“Compared to other schools which have canteens or other business ventures of the students’ making, we are the only institution with an Entrepreneurship program (that lacks) this,” said Mary Hildence Baluyot, acting head of the college’s Entrepreneurship program.

And as noted by Commerce Dean Helena Cabrera in her proposal, a classroom should be converted into an incubation facility, with amenities like photocopying machines, computers, storage spaces and other equipment. This room will be used by students to manage and organize start-up businesses.

Commerce also proposes to put up “business centers” within the University, to allow students to sell and trade.

Accountancy, meanwhile, plans to offer continuing education courses for professionals, hoping to make the college a center of learning in the field, Cruz said.

To reach people in far-flung areas, Medicine is also gearing up for a distance learning program, Gonzaga said.

A master of science in pain management program is set to open under a tie-up between UST and the University of Sydney in Australia, where Thomasian Dr. Jocelyn Que, the Philippines’ first “queen of pain,” obtained her masters’ degree and hands-on clinical studies in 2005.

Fine Arts is gearing for accreditation, aside from establishing a unified alumni organization and searching for scholarships for its students.

Before 2011, Fine Arts targets to publish a book that will showcase 400 visual artists among its alumni, some of whom are national artists, Dean de los Santos said.

Research-imbued

Plans for the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC) began under De la Rosa’s first term as rector in 1991. Nearly two decades later, De la Rosa remains convinced that “research is an integral part of the University.”

De la Rosa reminded Thomasian researchers during the University’s Research/Creative Works and International Publication Awards last March 13 at the TARC that “in international universities, if you are a researcher, you are highly regarded. Sadly, there are over 2,600 faculty members in UST and yet few are only interested in research.”

Taking the cue from the Rector’s remarks, Medicine, the Faculty of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing, and the College of Science expressed optimism that UST research, under De la Rosa’s watch, will again break new ground.

Gonzaga said Medicine would welcome any support from the Rector to achieve more medical research breakthroughs, particularly on ovarian cancer, which the college is studying along with Pharmacy courtesy of research funding from by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

Pharmacy Dean Priscilla Torres wants more research grants for the faculty.

“We are expecting more research support from the Rector, knowing that he is very research-oriented,” Torres said.

Also responding to the Rector’s call for more researchers, Nursing Dean Glenda Vargas said that at present, the whole Nursing faculty is trying to produce research on their specific fields of specialization.

“Research is now the focus of Nursing, not only by the students but also the faculty,” said Vargas, who hopes to begin publishing the college’s research outputs by 2011.

Science Dean Maribel Nonato, former director of the Research Center for Natural Sciences, wants De la Rosa to support the College’s plan to become “research-imbued.”

“We hope that our professors would fulfill two of the three aims of our mission-vision: teaching, research, and community service,” Nonato said. “We would like professors to be busy beyond teaching because research and community service can help them grow, and are avenues of development.”

Science, which constitutes 90 percent of the researchers based in TARC, has had a very “high spirit” in research, even during the term of former dean Fortunato Sevilla III, Nonato said.

International visibility

Aiming to make its presence felt in the global academic arena, Science, Pharmacy and Music are also seeking the Rector’s nod as they forge ties with foreign schools through faculty and student exchange programs and scholarships and research grants.

Aside from Germany, Science would also like to continue its ties with the European Union, United Kingdom, and the United States.

“We would like to continue our ties with foreign institutions and that is, again, through research,” Nonato said. “Because if you want international schools to collaborate with you, you have to go to their level and that is through strong research.”

Continuing the “zero-B.S.” war cry which former dean Fortunato Sevilla III started, Nonato wants professors with only bachelor of science degrees to get master’s and even doctoral degrees.

Pharmacy on May 18 sent two faculty members and one student to the Universiti Sains Malaysia for training.

Professors Aleth Dacanay and Marie Cicelie Cruz stayed for two weeks in Penang, Malaysia with incoming Pharmacy student council president Joyce Suero, who stayed for a week.

To make the affiliation with the Malaysian university official, Torres is planning to fly to Malaysia in July to sign a memorandum of agreement.

“I hope I could go with the Rector and our assistant dean for the signing of the agreement,” Torres said, adding that Pharmacy is also targeting joint ventures with universities in Thailand and Hong Kong.

Music, meanwhile, has signed a memorandum of agreement with Liszt Academy in Germany for faculty exchanges.

Just last March, Josef Wiedeler, the honorary consul of Thuringen, Germany to the Philippines, donated a grand piano to UST.

“The Father Rector served as the key in this good relationship with Germany,” Sunico said. “We are expecting the same enthusiasm from him until the end of his term.”

He’s the man

During De la Rosa’s tenure as Ched chairman in 2004, Vargas and the entire College of Nursing were “very happy” as he proved to be very supportive of quality education, especially in the country’s nursing program which was then plagued by fly-by-night schools and wanton commercialization.

As Ched chair, De la Rosa imposed tougher requirements on substandard nursing schools, and shut down 23 of them.

“Even when he was still in Ched, the Rector has shown support for Nursing,” Vargas said.

Now, Vargas wants De la Rosa to ensure support to faculty members to encourage them to stay in UST amid more lucrative nursing opportunities abroad.

De la Rosa has so far managed to support benefits for Nursing faculty to ensure the success of the new Ched Nursing curriculum, Vargas noted.

“It is difficult to compete with dollars that is why we are very grateful for the faculty members who have stayed with us,” Vargas said. “We hope the Rector would continue to support us.”

Show the way

Four big offices have a simple favor from the Rector, and that is to continue leading them.

Representing the non-academic employees of the University, the Human Resource Department (HRD) and Samahang Manggagawa ng UST (SM-UST) are seeking De la Rosa’s backing for their plans, promising to support the new Rector’s policies in return.

“May he always support the department’s projects, and continue his love and concern for the welfare of university’s non-teaching employees,” HRD director Cecilia L. Bahrami-Hessari said in a statement.

Aside from upgrading the University’s attendance record system to biometric from chronoloque, Bahrami-Hessari said her office is also planning to come up with a series of exhibits showing the department’s history, and a grand tribute to honor UST employees.

SM-UST President Restituto Llamas said the non-academic employees’ union never had a hard time dealing with the Rector during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“All of the requests of the non-academic employees regarding the CBA, Father de la Rosa gave. He is a kind and efficient leader and priest,” Llamas said.

For his part, UST Faculty Union President Dr. Gil Gamilla hopes De la Rosa would help in ironing out a new CBA for the faculty.

“Hopefully (the CBA) will push through the shortest possible time. We want to finish the negotiation because it has been taking so long already and the faculty members are getting restless. It has been delayed for two years,” Gamilla said.

On the student body’s side, Central Student Council (CSC) president Angelo Cachero noted the capabilities of De la Rosa when he successfully settled the controversy over UST Hospital’s separation from the University.

This year, the CSC is optimistic that its call for a magna carta for students’ rights would not fall on deaf ears.

Llamas wants the Rector to stay in the post for as long as he can.

“He knows how to manage the University,” Llamas said. “Sana magtagal pa siya nang matagal na matagal kasi napakabait niyang Rector.”

With plans and prospects bared, all the deans, heads, and office directors say they are glad to have De la Rosa back on the driver’s seat.

Just like De los Santos who is “contented to know that (Father de la Rosa) is going to be our Rector again,” Artlets Dean Armando de Jesus expressed confidence on the new Rector.

“I am absolutely optimistic that the University is in good hands with Father De la Rosa. I wish that everything goes well, because I believe he has the power to stabilize the University.” Nikki Q. Angulo, Mika Rafaela A. Barrios, John Constantine G. Cordon, Aura Marie P. Dagcutan, Danielle Clara P. Dandan, and Prinz P. Magtulis

Vol. LXXIX, No. 12 • June 10, 2008

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