The two candidates for the chancellorship of UP Diliman, UP Math Professor and the current UP Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development, Dr. Fidel R. Nemenzo, and the current UP College of Engineering (UPCoE) dean, Prof. Ferdinand G. Manegdeg, officially presented their respective visions and plans for UP Diliman before members of the UP Diliman Community at a public forum held on January 16, 2020 at Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute. The two officials are seeking to succeed Dr. Michael L. Tan as chancellor of the University’s flagship campus.
A globally competitive UP Diliman genuinely serving the people
The first to present his vision and plans for a UP Diliman that is “Globally Competitive and Genuinely Serving the Filipino People” was UPCoE Dean Manegdeg. He stressed the importance of “strong and experienced academic leadership” in UP, saying that UP Diliman “has to find its way back on track and its leadership needs to improve the development and promotion of programs”. He cited the need for a revamped UP Diliman administration and units exercising full autonomy to raise the standard of learning to Education 4.0. “We are often, if not always, proud about excellence and expertise in our respective fields. However, it is lamentable and disappointing to realize that we are actually lagging behind other nations now in terms of quality of education,” he said.
Often referring to developments at the UP College of Engineering as an example, Manegdeg said he would bring his vision of UP Diliman to fruition through the acquisition of high-speed computers to be used to access research laboratories outside the country and help digitalize course offerings of all units. He emphasized the need for a new administration that implements timely appointments for all employees, that will not limit the full potential of its different and unique units or curtail the progress of its colleges, and that “will never be a dictatorship as accused by some who are the actual dictators in the guise of being democratic”.
For Manegdeg, academic governance would be dedicated to the betterment of faculty, REPS, administrative staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders. Pro-faculty endeavors would include: strengthening faculty incentives such as professorial chair awards; institutionalizing resource generation by negotiating value-for-work commissioned research and projects; and, promoting output-based teaching, progressive research and creative work, and effective public service. REPS would be made part of the faculty as lecturers, enabling them to get additional benefits and incentives; and a REPS chair awards would likewise be created. Administrative staff would acquire security of tenure or permanent items, the practice of contractualization would be put to an end, and an administrative chair award would also be put in place. Student needs would be addressed with the addition of campus-wide student wellness rooms, 24/7 learning spaces, decent tambayans, on-site guidance counselors and diversified student activities. There will be a campaign for more undergraduate and especially graduate students at UP Diliman, which will entail the construction of more dormitories. Finally, alumni will be given opportunities to give back in the form of return service to the University.
His plans also include: a decent housing policy for faculty, REPS and administrative staff; promoting consistency of curricula, including the migration of five-year courses to four; and, commissioned research on supply and demand of each degree offering to reflect the gaps where UP should focus on. To promote the arts, exhibits on an international level would be held twice a year to internationalize UP Diliman’s artists and their works; likewise, international conferences would be hosted by the other academic clusters twice a year, with funding made available for such projects. Each unit would also house a museum and information center; and, the campus would be sectorized according to clusters:the Arts Paradise, Technology Haven, Innovation Mecca, Technopreneurship Center and the like. Manegdeg also mentioned elevating the UP Archaeological Studies Program to the level of school—the UP School of Archaeology.
“Activism is alive and vigilance will continue to thrive in our University. UP Diliman shall be open to all ideologies without excluding another,” he stated. With regard to national security the UP Department of Military Science and Tactics will be transformed into the National Security Leadership Institute, as “it is about time to have a UP brand on the interest of National Security.” The UP Extension Program in Pampanga and Olongapo will likewise be readied for their elevation into a UP constituent university. UP Diliman will also form a quick response group to aid and assist communities affected by natural disasters.
“It is imperative that the incoming UP Diliman chancellor should be firmly committed to help UP President Danilo Concepcion build an iconic University. Furthermore, this has to be complemented with efficient and sustainable administrative processes and effective curricular changes that are universally acceptable and primarily benefit our nation. Therefore,” he concluded, “there must be a rightful change in the UP Diliman leadership, not a continuation of the past six-year administration.”
An inclusive, diverse and public service-oriented UP Diliman
Vice-Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo followed with his presentation, “Re-Imagining UP Diliman as an Academic Center of Excellence; Inclusive, Diverse and Public Service-Oriented”. Beginning with his personal history growing up in UP Diliman, he said of his activist roots: “Noon pa man, malinaw na sa akin na ang UP ay naninindigan at lumalaban. Ang UP ay nakikilahok, nakiiisa at lumalaban para sa bayan. Sabihin mang pula ang kulay ng protesta, hindi ko kinahihiya ang marka ng tradisyon ng pakikibaka na aking pinagmulatan at kinalakihan.”
His vision is of a UP Diliman that would play a critical role in helping the country attain parity with developed countries, and for our society to navigate the rapid global and economic transformations brought on by advancements in digital technology. Thus, he envisioned UP Diliman as a modern research university with a public mission, building upon the gains of previous administrations and learning from the successes and shortcomings of the past, and harnessing UP Diliman’s unique diversity to create fertile ground for critical and innovative thinking. He will likewise promote UP Diliman as an inter-disciplinary hub working with various sectors and communities in society to draw up responses to policy questions and development challenges.
In terms of promoting academic excellence, Nemenzo plans to continue to cultivate the spirit of critical inquiry and challenge the community to seek new ways of solving problems, bringing together the best minds across disciplines to address these problems through research. He also plans to enhance the digital infrastructure, tools and applications that would facilitate world class research.
The General Education program would be strengthened, alongside the specializations. Support for the varsity teams and sports programs would continue, while music, theater, literature and art programs would be bolstered. Internationalization would be pursued, but grounded on the recognition of our duty to our own nation, which entails improving academic programs to enhance our capability to serve our country. If selected chancellor, he plans to propose a multi-disciplinary discussion on the metrics of academic performance.
Nemenzo stated in his vision that “academic excellence can only thrive under conditions of openness and respect for diversity.” Hence, he is committed to defend UP as a safe space where free thought and free speech are practiced responsibly, and where collegiality and respect prevail.
In terms of democratic governance, according to Nemenzo, a chancellor’s role is not only to support the University’s free-thinking scholars and artists, but to imbue them with a sense of purpose and inspire them toward higher goals. To do this, transparency and accountability in decisions and actions would be promoted by enhancing public information systems, and instituting functional grievance and feedback mechanisms. “As chancellor, I will strengthen efforts to uphold democratic rights by conducting regular consultations on academic personnel and community concerns, with a view to empowering our students, faculty, REPS and staff” he added.
In terms of promoting the well-being and dignity of the academic community through the creation of a nurturing and enabling environment, Nemenzo plans: to expand the services of the Diliman Learning Resource Center and further support initiatives such as the Kapihan sa Diliman, a 24/7 study space for students; to provide more adequate housing, healthcare and other services by continuing to upgrade the UP health services and its primary care program; to advance gender equality by strengthening support for forefront offices such as the Diliman Gender Office, the Office of Anti-Sexual Harassment, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies; and, to promote mental health awareness and well-being by pushing for the institutionalization of the PsycServ program. As for UP Diliman’s communities of informal settlers, Nemenzo plans to work with the city government and other relevant agencies to provide satisfactory relocation sites.
In terms of administrative and operational efficiency, Nemenzo plans to create a comprehensive data management system to help the UP administration make timely and effective policy decisions. To ensure safety and disaster preparedness on campus, the UP Diliman Police and Special Services Brigade would be provided more support and training. He would also work with the UP Resilience Institute and the Quezon City Government to improve UP Diliman’s capacity for disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response. Nemenzo also declared his commitment to the protection and revitalization of UP Diliman’s natural environment.
UP Diliman interviews with constituents
Prior to the presentation of the two chancellor-candidates, outgoing Chancellor Michael Tan presented a brief report on the achievements of his administration in the past six years, which concluded with a standing ovation from the audience.
A lively open forum followed the two presentations, with the chancellor-candidates answering questions from members of the UP faculty, students, REPS and administrative staff in the audience. Questions included: how each chancellor-candidate would mobilize the entire UP Diliman community to take a stand on burning issues of the day; how they perceive the role of a chancellor and what their style of leadership is; how they would handle conflicts between individual faculty and their units and departments; how they would deal with issues students face in relation to advising, enrollment, org-recruitment, student publications and so on; what their commitment would be to implementing the CNA between the administration and the faculty and administrative staff union; and, red-tagging by the national government. However, both chancellor-candidates reiterated their commitment to defend UP from unauthorized entry of the Philippine National Police and elements of the military into the campus.
The public forum, which was organized by the multisectoral UP Diliman Chancellor Search Committee headed by Dr. Ramon P. Santos, National Artist for Music, was followed by a series of interviews between the two chancellor-candidates and UP Diliman constituents, students, REPS, administrative staff, faculty and all sectors, spread out until January 22. The Search Committee is scheduled to consolidate all materials from the interviews, and to submit its report by January 27.
Video recorded and edited by KIM Quilinguing, UP Media and Public Relations Office.