Isang mapagpala’t mapagpalayang araw sa inyong lahat!
About a year ago, I accepted my nomination to the UP Presidency in my desire to lead in the remaking of UP not only as a great Philippine university, but as a great Asian and global institution as well.
I said then that “many of us remember UP as a great university, the best in the country, and a respected center of learning in Asia. Over the years, however, comparative surveys of world universities have jolted us into realizing that UP’s preeminent position as an institution of higher learning has faded”.
When I assumed office seven months ago, I declared that UP’s path can be nothing else than the path, not only to the greatness of its past, but beyond it. This University must seize the leadership in the making of a globally competitive Philippines. But even more urgently, it should be focused on addressing those problems of the country that for decades have resisted solution.
Today, I join all of you as we collectively embark on a journey towards making the University of the Philippines a Great University in the 21st century. I do not profess to make UP great overnight, but I shall mark the path and launch UP towards greatness during my term.
The magnitude of the task facing us is daunting, but I am encouraged by your show of support this afternoon, and draw strength from the prayers being offered by so many of you.
The remaking of UP as a great university can only be achieved through our unified effort, and our individual and collective recognition that we are One UP.
We may have seven constituent universities and an autonomous college dispersed all over the country, but we are One UP. We are One UP even if we have more than 5,000 faculty members; 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students; and 10,000 administrative staff and research, extension and professional staff in 15 campuses; plus over 260,000 alumni scattered across the globe.
We are One UP guided by one Charter, upholding the same tradition of honor and excellence in the service of the people.
As UP students, we are here to learn not just the knowledge and skills in abundance in our classrooms, libraries and laboratories, but also the life-lessons of our communities, our nation, and the world.
As UP faculty, we are here to teach, and do meaningful research and extension work.
As UP staff and REPS, we are here to perform our duties with integrity and selflessness.
As UP officials, we are here to further the values democratic governance rooted in the imperative of consultations with UP’s constituencies.
And as UP alumni, we are the living embodiments of UP’s best achievements.
As the national university, UP must lead our country toward true national development and global competitiveness while nurturing the spirit of our nationhood. My administration is fully committed to this vision. And I ask all of you to join me so we may realize it.
To achieve this vision, we will pursue two strategic thrusts – academic excellence and operational excellence.
Through academic excellence, UP can address the problems that beset the country and help achieve the prosperity that has long eluded our people.
Academic excellence entails developing our students, researchers, faculty, and staff members into a pool of responsible and competent leaders:
- who create world-class innovative and practical technologies that can address the problems of the country with food, energy, environment, industrial development, livelihood and employment;
- who produce creative works that can uplift the spirit of our people and articulate the essence of our national culture and identity;
- and who conduct exemplary extension services that can transform our communities.
Our track record in academic excellence is unquestioned. Thirty-four of the country’s 57 National Artists are either UP alumni or faculty members. Thirty-six of the 37 National Scientists are from UP. Our alumni lead the prestigious higher education institutions in our land. We have gotten recognition from the Commission on Higher Education for20 Centers of Excellence and six Centers of Development that mentor other colleges and universities.
Our graduates and constituent universities have been the topnotchers and the best performing schools in the various board exams. We produce more international and refereed publications than all other Philippine universities combined.
But we can still do more.
As a public university, UP must be a university where students earn their degrees as Iskolar ng Bayan regardless of the economic status of their family. This can be achieved with a strong commitment to review the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), restructure the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP),improve our scholarship programs, and do all that is necessary to maintain the public character of our institution.
Our curricula are at the core of UP education. We must improve general education (GE) so students can acquire an even broader foundation in the sciences and the humanities. We need to train our students in higher-order thinking, and to ingrain in them the value of life-long learning as leaders in their fields, and, even more critically, in working for the public good.
Our GE program must instill the urgent lessons in ethics and civics, public-mindedness, national pride and global orientation. We must prepare our students for the workplace so they may remain competitive and successful many years after graduation. But we must also expose our students to the basic tenets of entrepreneurship which is needed to spawn wealth creation in the country through business enterprise. As the national research university, we will encourage more graduates to take the path of innovation as the life-long researchers and creative minds critical to our nation’s progress.
We will need exemplary research mentors to guide our graduate students through research and publication. We may get the best and brightest students into UP, but we must complement them with the best faculty who have the track record in research and/or creativity. We will continue to support the development of our young faculty by financing their advance studies.
We must provide more funds for international conferences to expose more of our faculty to international research and academic standards. We will reward exemplary teachers and researchers who publish prolifically, who develop excellent educational materials, and who effectively use these materials in our classes. And we will reserve the recognition as a professor emeritus only for the most outstanding mentors of our university.
Much of our accomplishments, champions and experts are not recognized even among ourselves, the general public, and the world. For example, how many of us know that more than half a million needy Filipinos are served yearly by the UP Philippine General Hospital?
To help further realize our responsibilities as a public service university, we are creating the Padayon UP! Office (“Padayon” meaning “Onward”) to coordinate our public service activities, package our programs and breakthroughs, and disseminate these to our students, our faculty and staff, our policy makers, our alumni, and to the Filipino people.
We know that UP can no longer ignore internationalization. We need to find our niche in the world and must improve our international ranking among the world’s universities. We need to embrace accreditation and international benchmarking. We must undertake our own internal academic assessment, and subject our programs to external review by recognized national and international assessment agencies.
UP Manila has shown us the way. For instance, the College of Medicine, whose standards have been affirmed by accreditation, achieves a 100 percent passing rate in the medical board exams, and its graduates’ perennially placing among board topnotchers.
We will pursue the University’s internationalization by promoting student exchanges, foreign academic credit transfer arrangements, distance and e-learning, foreign collaborations in graduate theses, and faculty fellowships in foreign institutions.
As a counterbalance, we will support a national culture, history and arts program. This will promote a vibrant creative work and performing arts scene in our campuses. But more than that, the program will serve to enhance the Filipino self-knowledge based on a deep understanding of Philippine culture, heritage, history, archeology, and arts.
Academic excellence needs the support of an enabling environment anchored on operational excellence. Operational excellence, in turn, is achievable only through administrative efficiency and financial sustainability.
There are various ways to attain efficiency, but the quickest approach is to put in place an integrated information and communication system that will tie our units together into one UP.
Decision-making at the system and all other levels of administration in UP must be based on accurate and real-time information. We will soonlaunch e-UP, a system-wide computerization project that willinterconnect and harmonize ICT systems and infrastructure across all UP campuses. The e-UP project will improve information sharing and accessibility, improve decision making, simplify and harmonize operations, speed up service delivery, reduce operational costs, and promote personnel well-being. With increased transparency and managerial control brought about by e-UP, we will be able to empower lower level administrative officials through decentralization.
The implementation of e-UP will be completed within three years, and we need your support and involvement to ensure its success. System-wide ICT policies and standards will be formulated and ICT knowledge base updated through massive competency building among our students, faculty and staff.
We will also launch “Green UP” to make our campuses environment friendly while saving on the cost of utilities, such as electricity and water. The Green UP project also includes the formulation of guidelines on building designs and landscapes for implementation in all campuses.
Effective human resources management will also contribute to our administrative efficiency. This will require matching skills with the tasks required, ensuring that working hours are within reasonable times, compensating work beyond the call of duty, rewarding excellent performance, providing a suitable work environment, and granting equitable employee benefits.
We are determined to be a leader in implementing a just and equitable employment relations system in the Philippines. We have started discussions with prospective partners for addressing the housing and health care needs of our faculty and staff. With strong political will, we intend to establish a transparent and effective system of resolving grievances at the workplace and to implement UP’s social contracts, including the collective negotiation agreements with the organized faculty and staff.
Our strategic initiatives, along with the regular operations of the university, require large amounts of funds to implement and sustain. As a land grant university, UP has the responsibility to utilize and manage its land assets in an optimal manner. It is imperative that we have full appreciation of all our properties. To achieve this, we will begin thecrafting of a Master Development Plan covering all campus sites, landholdings, and land grants. This master development plan will be the basis of capital improvements in the campuses, and the proactive and orderly development of our land assets for revenue generation.
Another asset of UP is its intellectual property. We have recently obtained approval from our Board of Regents for the Revised UP Intellectual Property Rights Policy. This will guide and facilitate technology transfer. Dissemination of the research outputs and innovative technologies generated by our faculty, researchers, and students must be accelerated, if we are to fulfill our mandate as a research and public service university, while generating revenues from IP commercialization.
We have put in place a seamless partnership between UP and the UP Alumni Association, and we will harness our alumni to assist their alma mater not just through their donations but by putting their expertise and networks in the service of the University. With the support of our alumni, we plan to launch a comprehensive fundraising campaign that will augment our endowment funds. The new UP charter provides for 150% tax deductibility of donations to UP. In an era of strict tax enforcement in the country, this incentive can serve as a material inducement to prospective donors.
The challenges to UP
Our pursuit of academic and operational excellence is rooted in UP’s historic commitment to serve the people. Republic Act No. 9500 (our Charter of 2008) declares UP as the National University, a distinction laden with great responsibilities.
UP is mandated to perform its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and national development. UP is expected to serve as a research university, as a graduate university, as a public service university, and most importantly, as a regional and global university.
UP is indeed designed to be the great university we want and the great university the country needs.
But I am appalled every time a poor student who has been admitted to UP is unable to enroll because of financial inadequacy. I amsaddened each time we lose a faculty member or researcher to other universities or the private sector because we cannot pay enough.
And I am frustrated every time I have to plead to the government for more budget support for UP, the National University that Congress has given so much responsibility.
But I become convinced that UP can be an even greater university whenever our colleges achieve a 100% passing rate in licensure exams and our graduates top these exams. I am even more heartened each time our faculty members produce breakthrough researches and masterpieces in the various disciplines despite the odds.
I am more encouraged to pursue the path to greatness when we produce a summa cum laude like John Pelias who has decided to serve the University as a faculty member, or a Shamcey Supsup who has proven that brains, beauty and the desire to teach in UP can reside in one person.
I am more emboldened when political leaders led by our senators and representatives, some of whom are here with us today, mobilize resources for our new projects. They are among those who believe that UP is a good investment.
And I am inspired more than ever, when I meet alumni during my travels who are eager to support their alma mater. Some of them have traveled far to attend this investiture today and join us in restoring UP’s greatness.
A call to action
Because UP has been at the forefront not only of the country’s educational system, but also of its social, political, and economic life, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the youth who go through the halls of our university are imbued with the tradition and spirit which have made UP the vanguard of the people.
The university is like a seedbed where students are nourished so that they may bloom and flourish not only in academic excellence but also in moral character. As Dr. Jose Rizal said to the women of Malolos: “awaken and prepare the mind of the child for every good and desirable idea – love for honor, sincere and firm character, clear mind, clean conduct, noble action, love for one’s fellow men, respect for God…No sweet fruit can be picked from a sour seed.”
The university, according to UP’s first president, Murray Bartlett, “is not meant to breed aristocrats but unselfish workers for the common good.” UP must also teach all those who go through its corridors that “the honor due any profession is to be judged alone by the measure of its service to the people.”
Such are the demands on us as the national university.
UP education has endowed us with the priceless teachings and examples of the country’s finest artists, its most brilliant scientists, and its most dedicated teachers. It has also allowed us to learn despite the limited facilities and the antiquated equipment from previous generations. It is the combination of these teachings, this environment, and the UP student’s ingenuity, which sets the UP graduate apart from those of other institutions.
But while we have managed to achieve excellence despite these limitations, we must continue to demand for increases in state subsidy for UP, increases in the pay of our faculty and staff, and theupgrading of our facilities deserving of a national university. Government financial support for UP is not an expense, but an investment that will yield copious dividends for our country and people.
On this day we gather to declare that we shall not waver in our efforts to restore UP to its preeminent status in the world of higher education and to ensure that the education it offers is accessible to the least of our people.
We must succeed not because we have a reputation to keep but because we have a country to serve. And we will succeed, because we have the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who will help us realize the goals to which I pledge my administration.
Mabuhay ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas! Mabuhay tayong lahat!