Honor and Excellence in a Digital National University

| Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Angelo A. Jimenez
22nd President
University of the Philippines
10 February 2023

UP President Angelo A. Jimenez delivering his speech at the Turnover Ceremony for the Presidency of the University of the Philippines on February 10, 2023, at the Quezon Hall, UP Diliman, Quezon City. Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO.

President Danilo Concepcion, members of the Board of Regents; and the officials of our University; the faculty, staff, and alumni present; the students of our eight constituent universities; distinguished guests; magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Please allow me to begin by extending my gratitude to President Danny and the officials of the University who have graciously assisted myself and my team for the past few weeks as we have prepared for this day. Our goal is to hit the ground running from Day One, and I believe we are in a position to do that because of your help. To all of you, daghang salamat, and thank you for your service to the University.

I am especially grateful to President Danny — or Danny the Builder as I like to call him — for all the work you have done in your six-year tenure as UP President. All of us are challenged to leave this world a little better than we found it; when President Concepcion assumed office six years ago, he took this to heart — and he will leave the University much, much better than when he found it. Walk around this campus and that is self- evident. Thank you very much, Mr. President; and thank you, Gabby, for sharing him with us these past six years.

Our country has just weathered a global pandemic that has triggered massive disruptions in business, technology, labor, and education. These have upended conventional thinking and compelled humankind to hurriedly adapt to and accept new realities.

In this day and age, higher education institutions (HEIs) cannot be parochial and self-absorbed. HEIs need to acquire a global consciousness in carrying their mandates. We need to look at the developments of the immediate past and prepare ourselves for a future in which the pace of innovation is — as AI is teaching us — faster than the speed of thought.

With this as background, the University of the Philippines is envisioned in the next six years to be at the forefront of transformative scientific, cultural, and artistic pedagogy, research, and public service in local and global communities.

Our mission is to foster efficacy, effectivity, and efficiency through transdisciplinary engagements in teaching, research, and public service.

Ang UP ay mananatiling bulwagan ng dangal at ipagpapatuloy natin ang simulain nito tungo sa husay at dangal.

But honor and excellence are not enough. Aanhin ang husay at dangal kung walang malasakit at kung walang pakikipag-kapwa tao?

A transformative UP means no individual or small group effort would probe enough to offer a sound alternative to the complexities we are facing. Though coming from various backgrounds and enjoying disparate privileges, UP has provided and will always provide its constituencies with a common ground to overcome our differences. A passion for knowledge production brought us together and has given us a sense of belonging, which is a strong ground to negotiate between the legacy we share and the future we envision, to better serve our academic community and the world we live in. This is the cornerstone of our first line of action: pumailanlang, pumalaot.

Pumailanlang, Pumalaot is pakikipag-ugnayan, which entails a call for communion. It is a commitment to recognize and respect each other’s worth. And in this sense, we will champion the following:

First, engagement in Transdisciplinary Research, which is also an attempt to end the silo mentality. We must conduct more collaborative research and creative projects among disciplines and among constituent universities, with an agenda of creating translational research that will benefit the country and our people. At the end of the day, the general public should and will always be the target audience of our research. It is our obligation to convert scientific, social scientific, and artistic research into practical programs that will uplift the lives of the Filipino people.

We have to build strong bridges within and between CUs. In our current reality, no single discipline nor single campus is able to provide holistic and comprehensive solutions to the problems confronted by an ever- changing world.

We have to promote and encourage greater interaction and dialogue among UP constituents, such as institutionalization of research programs or curation of creative projects that engage the sciences and the arts in solving social concerns and critically interrogating social issues.

Second, let us also build a stronger pakikipag-ugnayan with our alumni because they are an integral part of the UP community. Their role in providing resources to UP is invaluable. However, they are more than a source of much-needed funds; they are role models for our students. They may also serve as mentors to our students or they can be co-facilitators in extension programs and public services. Our alumni are also our international ambassadors — showing the world what “Honor” and ‘Excellence” with compassion means.

Third, UP must also move forward towards the direction of the 21st century education by building and crossing bridges towards digital technology. UP needs to digitally transform learning in order to be responsive to the period of rapid change in an increasingly globalized environment. In this regard, UP in the next six years will critically participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and we will journey towards the transformation of a learner-centered digital University.

To make this a bit more concrete, digital transformation in the UP context means:

  1. Differentiated and personalized learning: the tailoring of learning content, processes and activities to match each learners ability level.
  2. Digital learning resources: the creation of digital resources that engage students in learning activities and support students’ learning goal.
  3. Global and remote learning: learning from anywhere and at any time.
  4. Administrative efficiencies: the greater use of data science in decision making.

I imagine our CUs and campuses enjoying high-speed networks and the enhanced digital competence of our faculty and staff.

One of the goals of digital transformation is to create compelling digital content in education that include current, relevant, and accurate information that are aligned to the highest quality standards. These user- friendly digital content will be made available to all UP students, regardless of what CU they are enrolled in. As part of our extension service, we will happily share the digital course content that we will develop with other SUCs. Our digital transformation initiative will also expand and make it easier for our students to cross-enroll in other CUs.

Fourth, as a national university, we must also help the nation by reaching out to the state universities and colleges in the regions. With its resources, UP is better armed as a teaching, research, and public service university as compared to its fellow SUCs. As such, we must extend “honor and excellence” to the SUCs by ways of consortium or by assisting in capacity buildings or by sending our experts to aid them in academic program development.

Fifth, reaching out to our administrative staff members is also a very important aspect of this agenda of pakikipag-ugnayan. We will review the benefits our staff members receive. We will also sit down with the Department of Budget and Management and the Civil Service Commission to address personnel and regularization issues on an institutional level.

The second major plan of action is a take on pride of place. We have to envision a UP where spaces are safe, nurturing, shared, connected, and sustainable. This is an opportunity to think of UP as a means to transform spaces into places with meaning and memories. Emplacement is historically and culturally wired; our existence is embodied in space and time. A place has history. It also articulates cultural memory, and in the case of UP, it is an extension of a long history of intellectual, scientific, and artistic traditions.

Pride of place plays an important role in identifying and supporting place- based policy, which includes environmental governance mechanisms.

Pride of place entails community spirit, confidence in an area, and standing up for the community in the face of adversity. The ultimate goal is to involve everyone in the disposition of, “I care, and I want to improve this place.”

We have to maintain UP as an ideal space of learning. Our digital national university will not only be an ideal place to learn, it will also be an ideal place to live and play. Our campuses will be green oases — the lungs of the communities that host them. We will set targets towards carbon neutrality, and in developing our campuses we will abide by the International Good Practice Principles for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Our campuses will also serve as refuge for weary souls that will be rejuvenated though art and culture. UP campuses will be arts hubs. We have to maximize the use of spaces. Our campuses are good venues of found-space performances, site-specific exhibitions, community gatherings and socializations.

With our sense of paglulugar, pagpopook, we are able to craft a system- wide arts and culture policy that will cement UPs place as the leader in arts education, culture promotion, and cultural centers in communities that hosts our campuses.

Consequently, paglulugar, pagpopook will also develop a work environment that lead to fulfilling professional lives and improved well- being. It is also about the provision of resources that the faculty and staff members need to deliver excellent results. Hence, we will continue to invest in our human resources — our most important asset. Immediately, we will create a more transparent and accountable selection process for incentives and rewards; work to increase faculty and staff non-wage benefits; and develop a program to help our retirees transition to the new lives. In the end, paglulugar, pagpopook is also pride in people and pride in their contribution no matter how big or small.

Finally, UP has molded and shaped its students. Its faculty and researchers have innovated and constructed new knowledge. At the same time, UP continuously gives back to the communities.

We will continue to perform its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and national development.

The hallmark of UP in the next six years will be service to the nation. I sincerely believe that service to the nation is not simply on top of what we do, nor is it something that we should do on a voluntary basis. Service to the nation is constitutive of who we are and what we do. Together, we will work towards a UP that is more engaged with the nation.

As a national university our responsibility is to meet the needs of society in order to help create sustainable and inclusive human development. We will continue to be focused on the development of an enlightened and engaged citizenry and a more specialized, practical education for development.

We cannot be satisfied with knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Our role does not end in producing graduates with 21st century skills. We need to go beyond undertaking research and policy advice on improving national governance, making the economy stronger, or creating a sustainable ecosystem.

In this sense, we will work to intensify:

  • Knowledge co-creation or the joint production of innovation with the private sector, civil society organizations, and communities themselves; and
  • Service learning: “An educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs.”

We will embrace our national identity but aspire to be a global university that asks the consequential questions of our time and, acting locally, strives to address the serious issues confronting the country and the world.

UP will remain a bastion of academic freedom for the simple reason that we cannot achieve excellence without it. And part of it is a commitment to continue honing and supporting all forms of knowledge productions: scientific, social-scientific, creative or artistic, professional, and local or indigenous knowledge. The usual knowledge produced by the sciences and the humanities in the formal “Western” education paradigm must not be conceived as the pinnacle of learning. Engagement with indigenous knowledge or what we call the kaalamang bayan is an opportunity to understand that the world is more complicated than how these traditional classroom subjects provide. We are global yet we are very rooted to our indigenous worldviews.

We are shaped by the challenges and crises that confront us. Our recent crises have tested our pedagogical modalities, our creative practices, our research projects, and even our physical and mental health. Nonetheless, these have also forced open windows of opportunities for our faculty and students to survive, to strive, and to thrive. And UP will continue to be an enabler so that they continue to do just that.

In the end, UP will continue to be strong, courageous, critical, and nurturing because we are guided by our vision, our mission, and our values. Our UP Nating Mahal will continue to ensure diversity, inclusivity, and respect as driving forces towards honor, excellence, kindness, and compassion.

The Filipino people deserve no less. Maraming salamat po.

Mabuhay ang UP; mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!

Watch some the highlights of President Angelo A. Jimenez’s speech via the video above. Video shot and edited by Al Nikko M. Nagutom, UP MPRO.