by Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco
Nominees for the chancellor of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) laid out their visions for the university at the National Institute for Science and Mathematics and Education (NISMED) on Monday.
The five nominees, including College of Mass Communication (CMC) dean Roland Tolentino, presented to students their plans for UP to become a national university that combines academic excellence and public service.
Other hopefuls include businessman and education senior lecturer Patrick Azanza, Science dean Caesar Saloma, former Engineering dean Rowena Guevara and UP Center for Women Studies director Sylvia Estrada-Claudio.
Candidates shared similar and conflicting views on generating more university funds, improving facilities and policies for students, faculty and staff, strengthening the university’s public character, engaging in social issues and improving external relations.
Nominees agreed to strengthen UP’s contribution to sports, culture, arts and the building of a national identity and to streamline administrative processes.
According to a memorandum issued by outgoing UP president Emerlinda Roman, the UPD chancellor search committee shall submit to UP president-select Alfredo Pascual a report of the search process and an assessment of the nominees for the position.
Pascual shall choose one nominee from the search committee’s list. The Board of Regents, the highest policy-making body of the university, shall vote upon the president’s choice on Feb. 24.
“Democratize” access to education
Nominees agreed on the need to strengthen UP’s public character and make education more accessible, among other principles sanctioned by RA 9500, also known as the UP charter.
Tolentino called for the university to engage more in non-academic but socially relevant issues and to “democratize” admissions to UP.
“Walang publikong karakter ang UP Diliman kung hindi nito kayang buksan ang kanyang pinto sa mga kwalipikado pero mahihirap na mag-aaral,” said Tolentino, adding that he would increase the endowment fund for scholarships.
Meanwhile, Azanza vowed never to increase tuition fees if he is elected for the three-year position. UP tuition had been previously subject to a 100 percent increase in 2006.
Guevara proposed a review on the admission of indigenous people and support for financially-challenged students.
The Office of the University Registrar (OUR) should also review the students’ life cycle from admission to graduation to ensure that university resources are maximized in their education, said Guevara.
To maximize the state subsidy UP receives, all students should perform well in their academics, said Guevara.
Estrada-Claudio noted the debate between clashing views on student leaders and their responsibility to maintain academic excellence.
Guevara, Azanza and Saloma argued that students should put their academic requirements before extra-curricular activities.
The former engineering dean said there is a “silent majority” of students who believe that students are students before they are leaders, while Azanza cited himself as an example for maintaining his scholarship when he was a member of the UP Student Council in UP Los Banos in 1987.
On the other hand, Tolentino said there should be no clear-cut rule for student leaders, but there was a need for a “certain kind of tolerance and openness” for failing to maintain academic standing, depending on their circumstances.
PPPs, no need for a “mad dash”
Generating funds for the university was another common topic.
Azanza, Saloma, Guevara and Estrada-Claudio approved of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as long as they do not compromise the university’s integrity.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said PPPs where the private sector has the advantage are “highly questionable.”
The university should not be at a “mad dash” for PPPs, he said, adding that alumni support could be tapped for funding projects.
Conducive learning environment
All nominees said they would upgrade physical facilities, administrative services, health care and security on-campus to foster a more conducive learning environment.
Tolentino moved for the modernization of classroom facilities like installing LCD projectors and accessible wi-fi.
Azanza proposed maximizing information technology through a virtual university environment, which he called the “13th campus of the UP system.”
Meanwhile, Estrada-Claudio said she would improve health care services and probe into the shrinking population of the UP Diliman Police.
Nominees noted the importance of student tambayans in UP life, but they did not agree on the extent of the administration’s responsibility to provide it.
Estrada-Claudio said she was ready to turn over Vinzons Hall to the students to test their self-governance skills.
However, Guevara said students could expect the administration to provide the space and assistance for building tambayans, but a fully-furnished tambayan was a dole-out.
“Sorry, hindi ako mangangakong bibigyan ng tambayan, but we will help you build your tambayan,” Guevara said.
In utilizing university space efficiently, Saloma stressed the importance of the UP Land Use Plan.
“UP needs to formulate a coherent and comprehensive strategic plan for dealing with informal settlers and urban sprawl in UP Diliman. Such a plan requires an accurate scientific understanding of the dynamics of urbanization in an emergent economy and a conscious acceptance by all stakeholders that campus land could not be parceled out for private ownership and unregulated personal gain,” said Saloma.
Incentives for research
Meanwhile, all nominees promised incentives for research.
Tolentino said he would increase funding for the Research Dissemination Grant, improve publication facilities for academic output and encourage interaction between and within the four clusters in UP Diliman.
Azanza said he would increase the number of MA and PhD graduates per college, while Guevara said she would encourage faculty to extend research to national issues.
Estrada-Claudio proposed a two-track system.
“I will undertake a policy study as to whether faculty can follow two career tracks, a teaching track and a research track, that will have different criteria or rules for recruitment, loading, evaluation and promotion,” said Estrada-Claudio.
Nominees also promised better compensation and benefits for faculty, staff and REPs.