Friday, February 25, 2011

UP President Alfredo Pascual’s Speech at Feb. 10 Turnover Ceremonies

Alfredo E. Pascual
President, University of the Philippines
Speech during the Turnover Ceremonies
10 February 2011, Quezon Hall, Quezon City

Mapagpala at mapagpalayang umaga sa inyong lahat. Binabati ko ang mga miyembro ng Lupon ng Rehente, si Pangulong Emerlinda Roman, mga dating rehente, mga dating Pangulo ng pinakamamahal nating unibersidad, mga dati at kasalukuyang opisyal ng UP, kaguruan, kawani, estudyante, ang aking mga kaibigan, kamag-anak at miyembro ng pamilya.

Ladies and gentlemen.

First and foremost, let me thank all those who have given me their trust and confidence. Thank you for this opportunity to serve our beloved Alma Mater. It will be an honor for me to build upon the legacy of UP’s past leaders.

My predecessors have done much in setting the stage for the second century of UP’s existence. We take note, in particular, the contributions of my immediate predecessor, the first and, so far, only woman to be at the helm of our University. President Roman pushed the envelope for research in science and technology. The other accomplishments were described in her valedictory speech and these we do recognize.

Under my administration, our plans and programs will be guided by the vision statement that accompanied my acceptance of nomination for the UP presidency. That vision will mark our path for the next six years.

What is that vision? We want to see UP as a GREAT university in the 21st century:

  • A university that takes a leadership role in the development of the country, while anchored on academic excellence.
  • A university that has a strong research capability, supported by an expanded graduate program, unshackled by sectarian constraints or commercial interests, and geared to addressing societal problems.
  • A university that has excellent faculty and staff working in an environment which inspires outstanding performance and high productivity, and provides decent compensation and equitable benefits.
  • A university that recruits students from among the best and brightest and provides them affordable tertiary education.
  • A university that prepares its students for successful careers and responsible citizenship in a globalized world.
  • A university that takes a quantum leap in the physical development of its campuses and their technological infrastructure for teaching, research, and administration
  • A university that achieves financial sustainability by generating needed resources and managing costs efficiently, while preserving its public character.
  • A university that is a model for good governance to the country it serves.

My vision for UP as a great university is anchored on the UP charter of 2008, which declares UP as the national university of the country. The new charter mandates UP to perform a leadership role in higher education and national development. UP is expected to serve and lead as a graduate university, as a research university, as a public service university, and as a regional and global university. As the first President to be elected under the 2008 charter, I intend to fully utilize the enabling provisions of the charter in realizing my vision for UP.

To help me bear the weight of the UP Presidency will be a team of accomplished UP professors who will serve as my Vice Presidents. For the record, I have not worked with, nor am I personally close to, any one of my designated Vice Presidents. But the basis of our relationship going forward is clear. I expect them to share my vision. I require their loyalty not to me as a person but to our shared vision of remaking our beloved University.

At this point let me introduce quickly the men and women who will constitute my team:

  1. Vice President for Academic Affairs: Dr. Gisela Concepcion, Marine Science Institute
  2. Vice President for Administration: Dr. Maragtas Amante, SOLAIR
  3. Vice President for Development: Dr. Elvira Zamora, College of Business Administration
  4. Vice President for Legal Affairs: Atty. Danilo Concepcion, College of Law
  5. Vice President for Planning and Finance: Dr. Lisa Grace Bersales, School of Statistics
  6. Vice President for Public Affairs: Dr. Prospero de Vera III, NCPAG
  7. Secretary of the University and the Board of Regents: Dr. Lilian de las Llagas, College of Public Health, UP Manila

To continue with my talk, allow me to share further thoughts on some key points of our vision for UP.

On relevance. As the national university, UP must give paramount consideration to national concerns. UP has a historic commitment of service to the Filipino nation. We shall continue to provide a fertile ground on which to nurture and harness the creative and innovative talents of our people in science and the arts. In the 21st century, we shall also help the country become a significant and positive player in global society through innovation.

UP must be heard and seen by the nation. Our experts in various units of the University have already been doing excellent work in addressing policy issues and getting their voices heard. We shall institutionalize a system by which our experts can provide a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and policy making.

On research. To be able to truly impact national development, UP must upgrade its research and development (R&D) capability, building it up from its existing and promising centers of excellence. Through R&D, we shall work to find innovative solutions to problems of the country, our people and our industries, and introduce technology-based products to create new industries that can spur job creation.

Our faculty members produce research and creative outputs in the natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts. We shall have a program to communicate these outputs in an accessible language. This will facilitate their easy application by our people and industries. In addition, we shall protect the intellectual properties coming out of our laboratories and facilitate technology transfers that will yield fair economic benefits to our researchers and the University.

On our faculty and staff. UP must recruit, maintain and develop the best academic staff. Through incentives and professional development programs, we shall entice our best graduates and the best graduates of other great universities in the country to commit themselves to professional careers in the University.

Our personnel are a precious resource of the University. We shall observe employment terms that are fair to all categories of staff. In due course, we shall review the principle and practice behind the UP compensation system. The review will emphasize the links between productivity, equity, motivation and improvements in compensation, especially the non-cash components, such as housing and healthcare. Performance-based incentives will also be explored.

On our students. Surely, UP must admit only the best high school graduates in the Philippines. But as the national university, UP must also take steps to adopt an inclusive policy that democratizes admission. We shall work with local political leaders in preparing top high school graduates in provincial areas to compete for UP admission.

Much as UP is badly in need of funds, raising tuition fees in our undergraduate and research programs will not be our default solution. Our students must remain as Iskolar ng Bayan – enjoying an excellent but affordable tertiary education in a public university. Sometimes qualified students are forced to forego a UP education because of financial inadequacy. We shall do our best to prevent this. We shall strengthen our scholarship and financial assistance programs to provide adequate and timely need-based support.

With globalization, our graduates will be working in a fast-changing world in the age of information. Through curricular reviews, we shall ensure that our students develop the capacity for critical thinking; for continued learning; and for effectively dealing with ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty.

In addition, as the national university, UP must also prepare its graduates for leadership roles in the country or in their respective disciplines and professions. We shall ensure that our curricula and teaching methods are designed appropriately to respond to these needs. A strengthened general education program should enable our students to develop broader perspectives and a cross-disciplinary orientation, sound ethical standards, the values of good citizenship and, hopefully, a strong bias for serving the country.

On financial sustainability. For UP, financial sustainability is a serious concern given the need to modernize its campuses, retain talents in its faculty, and achieve a world-class research university status. Under the 2008 charter, for instance, UP may get out of the ambit of the Salary Standardization Law and fix competitive salaries for its faculty. But for us to do this, we must be sure of a reliable inflow of extra funds, beyond our annual budget, to sustain the increased funding requirements. For this we need to build up sizeable endowment funds and/or implement sufficient revenue-generating activities. To illustrate, for us to provide our close to 4,000 faculty members an extra pay of just P100,000 annually on average, we need a commercial venture that provides an annual income of P400 million or an endowment fund with a corpus of no less than P8 billion (assuming a 5% annual return). In reality, we need multiples of the illustrative amounts given.

On generating funds. Many say the problem is availability of fund sources. That is true in some sense. But we have to look also at what we present for funding. My banking experience tells me that good, bankable projects seldom have problems getting funded. We shall thus exert efforts to formulate our projects and programs very well in order to attract funders, be they the government and its agencies, donors, investors, corporate organizations, or international institutions.

The new charter provides for 150% tax deductibility of donations to UP. In an era of rigorous tax enforcement, this incentive can serve as a material inducement to prospective donors.

On government funding. UP needs a long-term funding commitment from the government over and above what is currently being allotted to it annually. We shall try to get this commitment by preparing a long term strategic development plan that builds the case of UP as a key player in national development.

On development of idle properties. As a land grant university, UP has around 18,000 hectares of idle lands mostly from government. We shall pursue the development of these assets in partnership with the private sector to generate extra revenues for UP. Such partnerships for commercialization of assets should be distinguished from commercialization of education, which is not at all acceptable. We shall observe proper safeguards to maximize the financial gains of UP from its assets. These extra revenues should not replace, in whole or in part, the annual appropriations provided to UP by the national government as assured in the 2008 charter.

On our alumni. Our alumni are an untapped resource for funds and expertise. We shall strengthen our alumni relations in a seamless cooperation with the UP Alumni Association. We shall make our alumni feel they are valued members of the UP community. We shall not scrimp in giving our alumni achievers due recognition. Our goal is to promote among our alumni a culture of giving back to the University.

On efficient administration. It is one thing to raise funds; it is another to use funds efficiently. UP must ensure that wasteful expenditures are checked and administrative processes (such as procurement and hiring) are expedited. The use of information and communications technology (ICT) to reduce voluminous paperwork will be a key to achieving administrative efficiency. There are opportunities to also save on power bills, while transforming UP into a “green” zone. We shall also implement productivity improvements among staff through the creative use of technology and regular training for honing skills and changing mind-sets.

On democratic governance. We shall observe the principles of democratic governance based on collegiality, representation, transparency, predictability, and accountability. In the management of funds and other resources entrusted to the University, responsible stewardship and ethical conduct shall additionally characterize good governance.

The work ahead will not be easy, given the eclectic character of the University and the administrative and financial challenges we face. But with the faculty, research and administrative staff, students, and alumni joining hands with us to move the University forward, I am sure we will make much headway with our vision.

The Office of the President will keep its communication lines open to the UP community. I would love to hear your views, comments and suggestions.

In closing, let me paraphrase the song Tagumpay Nating Lahat: Together, let us reach out to the highest star. Our success will be a triumph for all.

I now call on my team: let us go to work and lead in this quest of making UP a great university – the best in the country and one of the best in Asia and the world.

Maraming salamat po.


New President of the University of the Philippines