Abansi steps in as 3rd UPB chancellor

| Written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo

 

Dr. Corazon Abansi of the UP Baguio (UPB) Institute of Management (IM) has started her three-year term as the third UPB chancellor on April 14. She will serve until 13 April 2024. Prior to her appointment, she was Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of her predecessor, Dr. Raymundo Rovillos.

While UPB has been a constituent university for a little over 18 years, Abansi is only its third chancellor, as both Rovillos and UPB’s first chancellor, Dr. Priscilla Supnet Macansantos, served three consecutive terms. The UP Board of Regents approved Abansi’s selection to the constituent university’s top post in its 1359th meeting on March 25.

“Our vision of a resilient university is about adapting and thriving in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous circumstances,” Abansi stated in her vision paper, “Sëbang: Forging New and Old Pathways for a Resilient UP Baguio”. In an explanatory note, she said, “Sëbang is an Ibaloi term for the pathway a person creates towards the forest to hunt or construct farms on mountain slopes. In this vision paper for the Next Chancellor of UP Baguio (14 April 2021 to 13 April 2024), Sëbang connotes a pathway to construct a culturally rooted academic institution.”

She used the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, how it has “exposed gaps in our operations and forced us to deviate from our standard policies and usual processes”, to plan UPB’s direction in the next three years, even though many things are unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable about the post-pandemic future.

“Ours is a wake-up call to adapt and innovate, and frame challenges into opportunities to discover pathways to renew our pact with the faculty, students, staff, alumni, partners and the greater public,” Abansi said.

Abansi enumerated four pathways she intends to pursue: effective teaching and learning; multidisciplinary research and creative works; strong extension and public service; and, competent administration.

In the pathway to effective teaching and learning, she said that remote teaching and learning has moved from being an “emergency strategy” to an “organizational reality”. New ways of teaching and learning, therefore, must be inclusive and participatory. “Variants such as fully online, blended, or flexible learning will move across options throughout a student’s life and university years, and will continue on to the foreseeable future,” she said.

Abansi added that: the capabilities of the University Library and the Learning Resource Center will continue to be upgraded; academic programs will be reviewed, strengthened, and instituted; and, professional development of faculty will move toward “effective pedagogical methods in a remote learning scenario”.

In the pathway to multidisciplinary research and creative works, she welcomed the collective agreement among the colleges to propose the establishment of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension. She also said that apart from the Cordillera Research Center, her administration “will mobilize the Science Research Center and Innovation Hub. . . [as] a nexus that connects all the dots from thought to product, from imagination to reality, and from science to the community.”

To ensure the continued conduct of ethical research, “we will sustain the momentum of the Research Ethics Committee and look forward to the crafting of our own Code for Responsible Conduct of Research and the convening of our Research Ethics Review Committee or Board,” she stated.

The pathway to strong extension and public service will see the creation of the Social
Innovation Laboratory and Business Inclusion or SILBI Center, one of the key components of the Innovation Hub. “This center will complete the downstream-upstream connections in the value chain and will build the capability of the community through short/certificate courses and training programs in entrepreneurship and in support of the creative industry,” Abansi explained.

She listed four major components in the pathway to competent administration: (1) digital infrastructure, where technology will continue to be leveraged as a tool to address the needs in administration, teaching, and learning, including the deployment of mental health services; (2) physical infrastructure, where “existing buildings and physical structures will be revisited to align use and maintenance programs given limited or zero residential students”; (3) administrative staff, REPS, and other support staff, where continuing professional development is essential, contractual employees will be prioritized in vacancies of regular items, and benefits of outsourced personnel that provide security and utility service will be given in accordance with existing laws; and, (4) management and leadership, which entails a review of the organization since its elevation to constituent university status in 2002 to adapt to evolving needs.

Abansi earned her BS in Agricultural Economics, major in Finance from UP Los Baños (UPLB) in 1980. Nine years later, she graduated with an MS in Agriculture Economics, major in Marketing, also from UPLB. In 1994, she finished another master’s degree, this time an MA in Economics, major in Environmental Economics from UP Diliman. She went back to UPLB and earned her PhD in Agricultural Economics, major in Natural Resource Economics in 1997.

In UPB, she served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 2015 to 2021, Director of Student Affairs from 2012 to 2015, and IM Director from 2011 to 2012. Before joining UPB, Abansi served as De La Salle University Lipa’s Vice-Chancellor for Academics and Research. In 2016, she was one of the recipients of CMO Asia’s Excellence Awards.

She was conferred the rank and title of UP Scientist I in 2018, held the One UP Professorial Chair for two consecutive terms from 2015 to 2017 and 2018 to 2021, and received multiple International Publication Awards as a productive UPB scholar. Abansi emphasized the importance of collaboration and multidisciplinarity and it is evident in her research work, not only with UP colleagues, but also with faculty and researchers from other universities.