UPLB mourns the passing of its very own Professor Emeritus, Dr. Nora Cruz Quebral, widely regarded as the “Mother of Development Communication.” She was 94.
The professional life of Dr. Quebral was interwoven with the unique history of agriculture and social sciences in the university, where she persisted as the torchbearer of development communication (devcom) until her last breath.
Dr. Quebral, fondly called as NCQ in the communications circle, was a professor, mentor, scholar, practitioner, and academic leader who was at the forefront of the inception and maturity of devcom, both as a discipline and as an institution.
She was one of the pioneers of the Office of Extension and Publications (OEP) at the then UP College of Agriculture, now UPLB, in 1954. OEP evolved and was renamed through the years, until becoming the Department of Development Communication in 1974, Institute of Development Communication in 1987, and eventually the College of Development Communication (CDC) in 1998. She was a department chair in three separate terms from 1966 to 1985.
Her groundbreaking paper entitled “Development communication in the agricultural context” that she publicly presented in 1971 officially introduced devcom to the world, with her crafted definition, which she updated a few years ago, continuously serving as the guiding light to those who study and practice it.
Together with her brilliant and persevering colleagues at the frontier of this discipline, Dr. Quebral planted the seeds of devcom at UPLB and nurtured this field of study, until it blossomed as a unique branch of communication not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well, giving UPLB the eternal honor as the world’s pioneer in devcom.
Dr. Quebral was an epitome of honor and excellence, even during her student years. She finished BA English, magna cum laude, from UP; MS Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and PhD Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
She was a sought-after consultant to some of the world’s most respected institutions, such as the United Nations, the US Academy for Educational Development, the International Development Research Centre, and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction.
After her retirement from UPLB in 1988, she established the Nora C. Quebral Development Communication Centre, which continues to pursue devcom projects with communities and development organizations.
In 2007, she was given the first Hildegard Award for Women in Media and Communication. In 2011, the London School of Economics conferred upon her an honorary doctorate. In 2013, she was given the UP Alumni Association’s Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award.
Dr. Quebral’s legacy lives on at UPLB, at the halls of CDC, the first academic institution in the world to offer BS, MS, and PhD Development Communication; a Center of Excellence in Development Communication of the Commission on Higher Education; and a bearer of the ASEAN University Network Quality Assurance Certification for its BS program.
Her definition of devcom, etched in the memories of thousands of devcom alumni not only in UPLB, but in other higher education institutions in the country that have produced devcom graduates, reminds us of our purpose and distinctive role in building communities that can withstand the challenges of times.
As Dr. Quebral (2012) put it: “Development communication is the science of human communication linked to the transitioning of communities from poverty in all its forms to a dynamic, overall growth that fosters equity and the unfolding of the individual potential.”
On behalf of the UPLB community, our deepest gratitude and farewell, Dr. Quebral!
DR. JOSE V. CAMACHO, JR.