UP presidential candidates present platforms in forum

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The nominees: UP Diliman College of Law Dean Danilo Concepcion, UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion, Commissioner on Higher Education and GPH Peace Panel Adviser J. Prospero de Vera III, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services Rowena Cristina Guevara, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Benito Pacheco, and UP Diliman National Institute of Physics Professor Caesar Saloma. Photo by Abraham Arboleda.

The nominees: UP Diliman College of Law Dean Danilo Concepcion, UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion, Commissioner on Higher Education and GPH Peace Panel Adviser J. Prospero de Vera III, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services Rowena Cristina Guevara, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Benito Pacheco, and UP Diliman National Institute of Physics Professor Caesar Saloma. Photo by Abraham Arboleda.

Six candidates are vying for the UP presidency. All are UP alumni, UP faculty, and have UP administrative experience.

In a live stream broadcast across the UP System, the candidates presented their plans for UP on October 13 at Cine Adarna, UP Diliman (UPD), in the only public forum to be held in the search for the 21st leader of the country’s national university.

The candidates for the UP presidency are:

Dr. Benito Pacheco, UPD Vice Chancellor (VC) for Academic Affairs, UPD Civil Engineering Professor, and former UPD VC for Research and Development;

Dr. Gisela Concepcion, UP System Vice President (VP) for Academic Affairs, UPD Marine Science Institute Professor, and former chair of the Office of Special Initiatives for the Advancement of the Sciences at the UPD College of Science;

Dr. J. Prospero de Vera III, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education, Adviser to the Government Negotiating Panel with the National Democratic Front/Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army, UPD National College of Public Administration and Governance Professor, and former UP System VP for Public Affairs;

Dr. Caesar Saloma, UPD National Institute of Physics Professor and former UPD Chancellor;

Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services and Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Undersecretary for Research and Development, former UPD College of Engineering Dean, and UPD Electrical and Electronics Engineering Professor ; and,

Dr. Danilo Concepcion, UPD College of Law Dean and Professor, and former UP System VP for Legal Affairs.

UP Vice President for Public Affairs Edna Co moderates the open forum. Photo by Misael Bacani.

UP Vice President for Public Affairs Edna Co moderates the open forum. Photo by Misael Bacani.

For Pacheco, UP must be a leader of higher education institutions.   It must not only stand for honor and excellence, but also public service. He enumerated the goals of UP. First, in order to lead in the development and well-being of personnel, attention must be given to salary grade increases of not only the faculty, but also administrative staff and research, extension, and professional staff (REPS). Second, cooperation and competition among campuses are needed, whether in academic or administrative work. Third, UP’s academic leadership requires a comprehensive development of its systems of teaching, curriculum, and education technology. These should be appropriate to the needs of Filipinos, to varying student competencies, to the situation and future direction of the country, and to the development of future generations.

“One UP for One Nation” is VP Concepcion’s vision for UP, where it is “one community of scholars devoted to helping our country’s leaders and citizens. . . to build a just, humane, peaceful, and progressive Philippines.” The University must continue to increase its number of experts in various areas of study and development. UP must lead in pushing for increased allocation for higher education—“as close as possible to one percent of GDP per annum”—and also in seeking the same amount of support for research and development in the country.   UP must nurture mind, spirit, and body through knowledge generation and sharing, teaching and learning, research and creative work, curricula improvement, spirit of collegiality, multi-sectoral initiatives, infrastructure development, campus security, and the physical and mental well-being of its constituents.

De Vera’s presentation, “Reaffirming UP as the University of the People,” centered on the importance of the University’s public service mandate as embodied in various sections of the UP Charter of 2008 or RA 9500. This directive should be given equal importance and recognition, similar to the focus on UP leading and serving as a research, graduate, and regional and global university. The fulfillment of UP’s mandates “must not be pursued at the expense of providing valuable public service,” de Vera added. His vision for UP has three key elements: equitable and inclusive access, academic excellence, and transformative impact through service. These are all guided by provisions of RA 9500, which he aims to fully implement.

“UP into the Third Decade of the 21st Century” was presented by Saloma, who asked, “Is UP accomplishing its purpose as the national university as specified in Section 3 of the UP Charter of 2008?” As a research university, UP’s productivity has “plateaued since 2011”, as opposed to the country’s increasing performance in the same period, he said. He also found the productivity of the three biggest constituent universities (CUs)—UPD, UP Los Baños, and UP Manila—to be widely varied, which, he pointed out, was not a “desirable” scenario. He revealed that the average completion time of PhD degrees in UP was eight years. Saloma then showed the steady increase of the number of high school students taking the UP College Admission Test. Given these trends, he plans to narrow the performance gaps between CUs, give more slots for admission, and make UP education affordable and eventually free. He mentioned that his initiatives will focus on administration and employee welfare, planning and development, legal affairs, public affairs and inclusive governance, student affairs, student welfare, and finance.

Guevara enumerated ten items in her plans for UP in “The University of the Philippines as the national university that fulfills the aspirations of the Filipino people.” These include:  review and update  of teaching methods to optimize learning; review of the general education (GE) program; increase of research investment in both artistic and scientific fields; efficient compliance with government policies; continuation of the OneUP initiative of the Pascual administration; direct involvement of UP community in solving problems of their communities, regions, and the country; increase of inter- and multi-disciplinary endeavors within UP as well as between UP and government, the private sector, and other academic institutions; maximization of  private partnerships to improve the learning environment; mobilization of alumni in sharing the “UP spirit;” and help to artists and performers to broaden their reach locally and internationally.

“Compassion” was the key word in Dean Concepcion’s presentation, which he added to the traditional UP values of honor and excellence. He said he aims to cultivate a culture of compassion so that members of the UP community may better serve the University and the country. On student welfare, Dean Concepcion intends to study the possibility of free tuition, return government service for beneficiaries of free tuition, and the increase of the number of foreign students to augment the lowering of tuition fees. Focus must be made on UP admissions, the Socialized Tuition System, and the Revitalized GE Program. On staff welfare, policies on housing, honoraria, health benefits, contractualization, and retirement benefits must be examined. UP faculty is the bastion of knowledge, manifested in research, academic freedom, and relevant scholarship. Policies on research, extension work, promotion, and the awarding of grants must also be examined. Support must be continued for those who wish to pursue graduate studies. A UP culture that recognizes the contributions of all disciplines equally must be created.

On November 15, the UP Board of Regents will interview the candidates and elect the next UP leader who will serve starting on February 10, 2017.

Curriculum vitae and vision papers of the candidates are posted in the website of the Office of the Secretary of the University and of the Board of Regents (http://osu.up.edu.ph/official-list-of-nominees-for-the-u-p-president/).


For photos of the event, please click through the album below.

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