University of the Philippines Los Baños

I am now almost a year into the Chancellorship. I am happy to report to the alumni, our very important stakeholders and partners, that our team has moved forward to meet our goal of becoming a world-class graduate university, a research university, and a public service university.

UPLB remains to be one of the premiere tertiary educational and research universities in the country. The external review team of UPLB in 2009, however, found that it had lost considerable ground to our peer institutions in the Asian region in the past years. Hence, we pursued programs and initiatives to regain its premier position as a recognized educational institution in the region.

We are now at various stages of implementing our strategic plans to address the challenges of improving the levels of our productivity outputs, attracting the best students to our undergraduate degrees, and increasing our graduate enrolment.

Foremost among our initiatives is to enhance our ability to provide an enabling environment for teaching through facilities that would put us in the ranks of worldclass research universities. We are now closely working with the UP System for the implementation of eUP towards better operational efficiency and excellence in the outputs from our core functions of teaching, research, and public service. But probably more basic is the need to address our own campus’ concern on a dependable energy supply. We have been conducting exploratory talks with providers, and this should lead us to a final solution on the matter very soon. Groundwork for the construction of the integrated laboratory is on track. This centralized research laboratory concentrates the resources used in analytical procedures in one integrated laboratory, the better for us to be responsive to our students, researchers, and external clients.

Meanwhile, our need for research laboratories increases with our logical move to radiate to areas that are allied to our fields of expertise. For instance, we are looking at nanotechnology and astrophysics as potential areas for expansion as we will have the necessary core faculty for these two areas soon. The Department of Science and Technology has already allocated PhP60 million for a UPLB program in nanotechnology.

Our existing facilities are being given a facelift. More than 50 percent of our small classrooms have been have conducted reorientation seminars on the topic for our administrators and our rank-and-file, including the security personnel.

Resource generation is also our priority. Thus, we have taken a hard look at our land assets, knowledge products, and technologies as future sources of much-needed revenues to help us confidently implement our strategic plans.

At the graduate and undergraduate levels, we have done our best to attract the best and the brightest students to UPLB through scholarship programs. Already, we have many scholarship slots that need filling up and many funding agencies and individuals who are interested in contributing to our scholarship fund. We recently signed an MOU with the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Department of Agriculture to expand our scholarship program to cover undergraduate students pursuing BS Agriculture and BS Agri-biotechnology. and anticipated needs. Some have been approved while others are in the pipeline.

Setting a record for being the fastest GE course approved is ENTR 1 (Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Spirit). The BS Agri-biotechnology course has gained more enrolees since it was offered in 2011. At the graduate level, the BOR approved the institution of an interdisciplinary Ph.D.Development Studies program and the Master of Veterinary Epidemiology. Also approved was the institution of Master of Management major in cooperative management. The Master/Master of Science in Development Management and Governance have been gaining traction since we started to offer them in 2011.

We have been reaping a good harvest as we continue to preserve our track record of dominating professional licensure examinations, such as in engineering, forestry, agriculture, nutrition and dietetics, and veterinary medicine. CVM, for instance, has dominated the veterinary licensure examination for 2012, with five graduates in the top 10 of board passers.

We have been aggressively promoting our academic and research programs in the international arena by increasing our linkages with equally prominent universities abroad as well as international research and development organizations. In the first half of this year, we have entered into joint agreements (MOUs and MOAs) with 11 such universities and organizations in seven countries including the United States. Part of our commitment to strengthen these linkages is to admit students from foreign countries to our graduate programs. As part of our commitment, we have been providing these students with bridge programs in English as a medium of instruction to facilitate their integration into our educational system.

Faculty welfare is one of our prime considerations inasmuch as we acknowledge the need to nurture or mentor them, especially the young faculty. While also capacitating them to produce scholarly outputs, we are trying to increase their chances to earn tenure under the stringent policy of requiring publications in ISI-accredited journals. We are now providing more opportunities for participation in international fora as well as access to start-up funds for research on emerging and niche areas that will provide us opportunities to respond to current societal issues and problems.

Part and parcel of our vision is to promote UPLB as a public service university through better and improved dissemination of technologies and information that have been generated by our researchers and scientists. We want to engage our people in the use of our knowledge products.

We have been blessed as an institution to be part of the work and accomplishments of one of our very own alumnus, Dr. Romulo Davide, who was awarded the 2012 Ramon Magsaysay Award. I highlight this because I believe that there is no better way to create a positive image for our University than having one of our own recognized for important and life-changing work like Dr. Davide has done in bringing our knowledge products and technologies to the grassroots level.

Indeed, we need to put our best foot forward, but good work and accomplishments speak for themselves. In the past year, we have kept our sight on the goal of reclaiming our position as one of the best universities in the Asia-Pacific region. And with dedicated partners like our alumni and other stakeholders, we are inspired to continue with the work like good and faithful servants.