Text by Jewel Patricia Desipeda and Cristina C. Chi
College of Business Administration (CBA) students and faculty denounced the appointment of new college dean Joel Tan-Torres after the Board of Regents (BOR) went astray from the official rules guiding the dean selection process.
The BOR, the university’s highest governing body, conducted a special interview with the nominees last Oct. 11 and appointed former Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Tan-Torres afterwards.
The search committee for the CBA deanship, comprised of four senior and junior faculty members of the college, UP Diliman Chancellor’s representative Dr. Luis Sison, and UP President representative Atty. Roberto Lara, was headed by Dr. Ma. Gloria Talavera.
As early as July, they conducted the search process — consisting of a public forum, stakeholder consultations, and interviews with nominees — and forwarded the report to Chancellor Tan Sept. 11.
The report containing the strengths and weaknesses of the five candidates based on all the activities became the basis of the Chancellor’s recommendation.
In his letter to Pres. Concepcion, Chancellor Tan recommended two CBA faculty members, Dr. Lorna Paredes (1st choice) or Dr. Regina Lizares (2nd choice) for the Deanship.
According to the UP Charter, deans should be “elected by the board upon the nomination of the UP president and the recommendation of the chancellor following consultation with constituents of the college.”
The BOR secretariat sent an email invitation Oct. 9 to the five nominees regarding the conduct of an “additional interview,” despite the search committee already vetting them prior.
“To our knowledge this is the first time it took place, [in the] history of any search,” Talavera said.
BOR member and Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education Cong. Mark Go requested the interview, despite this not being in the official list of activities for the search process.
Faculty Regent Ramon Guillermo, Staff Regent Mylah Pedrano, Student Regent Isaac Punzalan, Alumni Regent Reynaldo Laserna and Go interviewed the nominees. Other members of the BOR arrived just in time for the deliberation.
In a 6-5 vote, the BOR appointed Tan-Torres as the new CBA dean.
36 out of 43 members of the CBA faculty submitted a petition to BOR to reconsider the selection process Oct. 21, the same day Tan-Torres took an oath in front of UP President Danilo Concepcion.
“The root [of the protest] is the disregard for the process,” said Dr. Helena Valderrama, part of the CBA search committee.
The faculty protested Tan-Torres’ appointment because it “violated the spirit and letter” of the UP Charter on deanship appointments and was contrary to the sentiments and opinions of the CBA community expressed during the search process, she added.
Controversial plans and stances
In a survey conducted August 13 by the Business Administration Council (BAC) during the search process, Tan-Torres had the most number of students’ vote being “specifically against” his appointment, with 81 votes out of 180 respondents. The other candidates, meanwhile, all had under 10 people contest their appointment.
Students voiced “discomfort with him being dean” because his plans were “out of touch of the current context of the college.” This came after Tan-Torres said in the public deanship forum August 13 that his short-term solutions to parking space in the college include operating a valet system, which would give employment and prioritizing cars that do carpooling.
“He hasn’t been here since the 90s. He doesn’t know the context of the students. The students met him for the first time during the first deanship public forum,” said a CBA student who refused to be named.
Dimla said that students were also against his deanship because of his stance on the name change of CBA to Virata School of Business (VSB), named after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ finance secretary Cesar Virata.
In the same forum, Tan-Torres told students to move on from the issue.
“I would say upfront that I am amenable to the renaming of the college. Word of advice, using the name of VSB for several years now, it is high time we focus on moving forward,” Tan-Torres said.
Tan-Torres belongs to the same Pan Xenia Fraternity as Virata.
Members of the search committee said Tan-Torres’ lack of academic credentials makes him the “least qualified” among the five nominees for an academic leadership position.
“For the longest time, we have been petitioning to the board to include the requirement of a PhD degree for the VSB deanship, but our petition had always been denied by the BOR,” said Talavera.
Of the five nominees, only Tan-Torres does not hold a doctoral degree.
Tan-Torres’ curriculum vitae stated that he began his Doctoral on Public Administration in UP in 1989, and this has yet to be completed after 20 years.
University rules on maximum residency state students in doctoral degree programs may only complete their degree in a maximum of eight years for those who enter with a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in an unrelated discipline.
“I think that my credentials and accomplishments will indicate that I was very close not only in teaching but in all other various different engagements or involvement that I have with the college,” said Tan-Torres.
According to the approved policies and guidelines on the selection of deans in the 1198th BOR meeting on July 28, 2005, a deanship nominee need not be a faculty member at the time of their nomination. They must, however, have a faculty appointment once they hold position.
Tan-Torres not applying for a faculty position could bring complications regarding his inability to attend and be a member of the University Council meetings.
“Faculty appointment will not be granted automatically by the University just because the BOR appointed Mr. Tan-Torres as the VSB Dean. He still needs to apply to start the process,” Talavera added.
Tan-Torres said this is unnecessary because he has already been appointed.
“They are the ones who nominated me and I would not have been selected as Dean kung kulang pa pala yung requirement or ako pa pala yung maghahabol ng requirement,” he added.
However, according to the UP Human Resource Development Office, faculty applicants must submit a number of requirements before being appointed.
CHED Chair De Vera’s response
De Vera said in an ANC interview that the Board of Regents is not the “rubber stamp” of the search committee and Chancellor Michael Tan.
He said that Tan accused the Board of Regents of making “political decisions” and wants them to rely solely on the search committee report.
A faculty member of the CBA, who refused to be named, said the Board of Regents’ disregard of the search committee report is an abuse of authority.
“I want to find out if they even understand this college. How can they make a decision on their own without going with the recommendation of the committee and the Chancellor if they do not know us? That is why we have a search committee,” said the faculty member.
De Vera said in the same interview that he did not know who nominated Tan-Torres, saying it was “probably the alumni of the college”.
However, the official report of the search committee indicated that Tan-Torres was nominated by Manny Villar, who is the CBA Alumni Association President and fellow Pan Xenia Fraternity member.
“UP CBA Alumni Association, which is the only and biggest alumni group for undergraduates headed by Chairman Manuel Villar, nominated me,” said Tan-Torres.
Another member of the search committee, who also refused to be named, said the Board of Regents including De Vera should have read the report before the decision.
“Kung totoong nabasa nila yung report bakit di nila alam kung sino nagnominate?” said the faculty member.
Muddy waters for upcoming Chancellor selection
The disregard in the process of deanship selection in different colleges, as well as “political appointees” of deans, pose a dangerous precedent for the upcoming selection of a new Chancellor, according to Valderrama.
“The choices that are being made of people with clearly inferior academic credentials for academic leadership positions in UP, we want to prevent from happening again. We have to be vigilant now,” said Valderrama.
Faculty Regent Guillermo said UP is in crisis with the worst governance he has seen in 20 years.
“Dahil nga ang ating institution ay akademiko, collegiality ang isa sa pinakamahalagang prinsipyo ng pamamahala dito. Hindi maaaring mahulog na lamang tayo ng buo sa hiearchaical top-down governance. Hindi yan babagay sa isang akademikong institution,” said Guillermo.
CBA faculty and students staged a protest Nov. 28 during the BOR’S 1349th meeting at Quezon Hall. They called on the BOR to explain the “political” appointment of Tan-Torres.
“Ang pagpili ng isang political appointee ay labag sa prosesong pinagdaanan naming lahat. Ang tanong: paano niyo ba pinili ang aming dekano?” said Talavera.
In support of the petition for reconsideration of the deanship selection, CBA Executive Committee — specifically Professors Lorna Paredes, Gloria Talavera, Carlos Bautista, Associate Professor Dani Rose Salazar, and Assistant Professor Ivy Suan — tendered their resignation last Nov. 28, but will continue to hold their position until qualified replacements have been appointed.
President Danilo Concepcion, along with some BOR members, spoke before the protesters and assured they will review the case along with the cheating incident at the School of Economics (SE).
“Siguro hindi ngayon ang tamang panahon para sa mas malalim na talakayan sapagkat kami ay may trabahong dapat gampanan sa taas,” said Concepcion, as protesters called for CHED Chair De Vera, the only member of the BOR who did not come down, to face the assembly.
With reports from Jefferson Losito