University of the Philippines Los Baños


Service to the nation through instruction, research and extension served as the main theme of the first day of the Higher Education Administrators’ Development Seminar (HEADS) on June 8 at Shercon Resort and Ecology Park in Mataasnakahoy, Batangas. The seminar is being attended by vice chancellors, deans, directors and chairpersons of UPLB.

Powerhouse speakers, which include Dr. Emil Q. Javier, former UP president, and Prof. Randolf S. David, professor emeritus of sociology at UP Diliman, highlighted the importance of addressing the needs of the country as UP fulfils its mandate as the national university.

Joining the two were Dr. Grace Aguiling-Dalisay, dean of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy and former director of UP Pahinungod, and Dr. Merlyn Mendioro, director of the Institute of Biological Sciences and former coordinator of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) of the College of Arts and Sciences. The discussions of Dr. Dalisay and Dr. Mendioro also centered on public service as they tackled the principles of Pahinungod and the NSTP, respectively.

World Bank Manila’s Justine Espina-Letargo, communications officer and leader of the Bank’s external relations team in the country, also graced the seminar. Her introduction of the Bank’s Knowledge Development Community also promoted the pursuit of national development through knowledge sharing and dissemination.

Nation first

Dr. Javier, who talked about “Raising the visibility of UPLB in the academic community,” called for the participant-leaders to cement UPLB’s status as “the best university of the Filipino people.” He said that UPLB’s purpose and first responsibility is to serve the country, and added the need for the University to keep up with the rest of the world.

With these premises, Dr. Javier proposed a paradigm shift for UPLB so that it would respond to the changing socio-economic landscape while harnessing the University’s intellectual assets. This includes focusing from subsistence farming to integrating farmers into agribusiness, particularly in the food and beverage manufacturing industry; aiming to be the best engineering university in the country; and pursuing academic programs on eco- and agri-tourism. “If you want to have visibility and impact, we must shift paradigm,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, Prof. David, in his talk on “Academic freedom and ethics in the academe,” situated the role of UP in the Philippine society. “The nomenclature ‘national university’ suggests to me not just a recognition, but an explicit affirmation of the direct linkage between the University’s mission and the nation’s future,” he stated. “We are also taking upon ourselves a role to serve not only as the vanguard of the nation’s consciousness, but also to spearhead its transition to a fully modern society.”

Prof. David urged the academic heads to focus researches on various realities of the country and the world, including mass poverty, hunger, climate change and biodiversity threats, to name a few. He also emphasized the importance of integrating  research in graduate training, and reiterated the need to expand graduate programs.

Wisdom in management, pedagogy

Dr. Javier imparted to the participants three lessons in managing institutions. First is inspiring subordinates by having a clear sense of purpose in the organization. Second is crafting a strategic plan to articulate the directions and priorities of the organization. Third is managing by directly interacting and communicating with subordinates.

 On the other hand, Prof. David articulated two auxiliary or supplementary functions of UP whose “centrality to the University’s presence in the society” cannot be ignored. First is raising the level of public discourse. “Universities like UP are uniquely positioned to intervene in the on-going public discussion of issues and problems,” he said, and later discussed its ethical implications.

Second is forming UP students as future leaders of the nation. “Among the things we teach our students is precisely that they must learn to differentiate, for example, that what is good for their family is not always good for the country; that what is profitable is not always legal; that what is legal may not always be moral,” he explained.

Public service through NSTP, Pahinungod

“If you think about public service, you have to equate it with NSTP,” said Dr. Mendioro in her discussion on NSTP. She emphasized that the latter is as important as other subjects in the University. She revealed that students’ feedback indicate that it is through NSTP community outreach activities that they have realized the essence of being “iskolar ng bayan.”

Dr. Mendioro shared to the participants how the NSTP’s literacy program had helped public elementary schools improve their performance in the National Assessment Test and how its civic welfare programs  assisted the Los Baños Municipal Health Office to identify households that need health intervention.

On the other hand, Dr. Aguiling-Dalisay, who talked about UP Pahinungod, said that volunteering is an integral part of and a pathway towards achieving the goals and objectives of higher education, the latter being expected to ensure that UP graduates are relevant and good citizens. She said that for an activity to qualify as a volunteering activity, it should be done out of freewill, not for financial remuneration, and for the common good.

She said that through Pahinungod, UP students, faculty and staff who join volunteering activities in far-flung communities, are able to discern the real important things in life.

Knowledge sharing and dissemination

Ms. Espina-Letargo oriented the participants on World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Community (KDC). “KDC was envisioned to be a network of learning institution. It has grown into 19 centers,” she said. “It is committed to sharing knowledge for development, a hub for dialogues on development topic and a change agent for transformational leadership.”

As one of the member universities of KDC, UPLB enjoys access to knowledge resources, including print and online publications, of the World Bank. Ms. Espina-Letargo expressed her hopes that UPLB and the Bank would engage in further KDC partnerships.

The second day of HEADS will cover topics on rules and protocols of a national university, managing academic discussions, operational efficiency through information technology, and team and people building skills. HEADS is being spearheaded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs under the leadership of Dr. Portia G. Lapitan. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)