University of the Philippines Los Baños

 

UPLB has just concluded its first Academic Leadership Conference (ALC) at the Subic Holiday Villas, which Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. said is part of UPLB’s effort to set the bar of academic excellence higher, to move the benchmark beyond Philippine shores and to remain progressive, relevant and globally competitive as a research and graduate university.

 

In his keynote speech at the ALC themed “Pathways to a globally competitive research and graduate University,” UP President Alfredo E. Pascual said that only an internationally oriented research and graduate university can provide the specialized knowledge, innovation, and postgraduate mentoring that our nation needs to compete in the global economy.

 

The ALC was power- and information-packed with thought leaders sharing their knowledge and experiences on global competitiveness for research and graduate universities. In essence, these thought leaders from the National University of Singapore and the UP System, as well as a national scientist and academicians of the National Academy of Science and Technology, said that leadership and governance are the keys toward making a University globally competitive in the higher and graduate education and in the research arena.

 

In her talk on “The UP Faculty: a national treasure and wealth,” UP Vice President Giselle Concepcion highlighted the potentials of harnessing UP’s high-caliber manpower through leading, living and giving, or through research and creative work, teaching and mentoring, and public service  functions respectively.

 

Two speakers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) talked about academic leadership. Dr. N. Varaprasad, also a partner and principal consultant of the Singapore Education Consulting Group, discussed how leaders treat change and the need for leaders to implement reforms. He said that we must embrace change and reforms and that this requires a leader who is a visionary of future needs. On the other hand, Dr. N. Lakshminaryanan Samavedham, director of the NUS Centre for Development of Learning and Teaching, said that the University must provide an enabling  culture for excellence through active learning. Dr. Grace Alfonso, UPOU chancellor, demonstrated how academic leaders can use technology to transform pedagogy and connectivity – and democratize as well as internationalize learning.

 

A panel discussion on “Academic Leadership and University Governance: Looking Back, Moving Forward” capped the first day of the conference. Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for community affairs, facilitated the discussion with top caliber science educators and administrators on internationalization, research and development policies and linkages, and faculty profile improvement. The panelists were Dr. Dolores Ramirez, national scientist; Dr. William Padolina, academician; Dr. Ma. Cristina Padolina, former UP Open University chancellor and current president of the Centro Escolar University; and Dr, Carmencita David-Padillia, academician and UP Manila chancellor.

 

The second day of the UPLB ALC provided as many gems of information as the first day did with resource persons sharing their experiences as mentors, researchers, research administrators, and recipients of outstanding teacher awards. The talks fueled up the two discussion sessions that ensued among the participants and with University leaders.

 

The first session, “Promoting the Culture of Excellence Through Teaching” by Dr. John Florencio Lapeña, Jr., University Scientist III at UP Manila, focused on effective mentoring; understanding the mentoring process; actions of effective mentors; and the differences between mentoring vs. coaching. 

 

Dr. Lapeña’s talk set the tone for the panel discussion on teaching excellence that was facilitated by Prof. Jerry Yapo, a faculty member at the Department of Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences. The discussants, namely: Dr. Virginia C. Cuevas, Dr. Merlyn S. Mendioro, Prof. Rolando G. Panopio, Prof. Jeanette B. Madamba, and Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo had all received the Outstanding Teacher Award from UPLB. They shared their experiences and best practices for effective mentoring. The panel also engaged the participants and administrators in a discussion of concerns and issues related to providing an enabling atmosphere for effective mentoring.

 

The second speaker, Dr. Mark Gregory Robson, professor in plant biology and pathology at the Rutgers University, presented their innovative graduate degree program, the Professional Science Master’s (PSM). The PSM, which is interdisciplinary in character, emphasizes effective communication and problem solving, and provides an understanding of the entrepreneurial spirit and technical innovation.

 

Dr. Philip Ian P. Padilla, who talked about the role of a faculty regent in ensuring the welfare of faculty members, also discussed initiatives and plans to increase the honorarium for undergraduate theses advising; the possibility of having  hazard pay and a harmonized promotion instrument; and collaborations in academic, research, and public service across campuses.

 

Academician and UPLB Professor Emeritus Salcedo Eduardo gave recommendations on how UPLB could strengthen the culture of research and publication in UPLB.  According to him, a research culture ensures continuity of the research process among the students and the research community. 

 

A panel discussion on strengthening the culture of research and publication followed with Dr. Aaron Joseph Vilaraza, deputy director of the UP Office of International Linkages; Dr. Juan Pulhin, UP Scientist; and former USec for Science and Technology Fortunato dela Peña as panelists. The discussion that was facilitated by Dr. Jaine Reyes focused on research productivity in UP and how the UP can nurture an environment that fosters R&D productivity.

 

On the third day of the ALC, Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III, UP vice president for public affairs, gave a talk on how the University could push the frontiers of its public service engagement. According to him, the Unversity should learn to integrate its public service efforts for better impact as well as document and move for public service at UP to be known and recognized.

 

The ALC, organized by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, led by Dr. Portia Lapitan with Dr. Jose Camacho, Jr., Graduate School dean and program coordinator, is the first of a series for UPLB. UPLB officials had already participated in ALCs held by the UP System and the National University of Singapore.  

 

(Photo courtesy of Lucas Cabalse)