By Nacho Domingo
University of the Philippines (UP) President Alfredo Pascual officially concluded his six-year term, formally turning over the presidency to UP Law Dean Danilo Concepcion, Friday.
During the turnover ceremony at the UP Diliman Quezon Hall, Pascual handed the ceremonial mace to Concepcion as a symbolic gesture of passing authority to his successor.
“Inaalay ko po ang aking buong sarili nang walang pagdududa o pag-aalinlangan. […] Ito ay itinuturing kong isang sagradong pangako,” said Concepcion, likening himself to the Oblation Statue standing behind the stage.
During the search for the next UP President, Concepcion made clear his vision to instill compassion within the university, in addition to its traditional values of honor and excellence. He also emphasized the importance of giving increased incentives and benefits to various university stakeholders.
He also said he would consider the possibility of free tuition as well as the implementation of the Student Agenda in UP constituent units, said Student Regent Raoul Manuel upon Concepcion’s election.
In his inaugural speech, Concepcion revealed plans he developed for his term. These include continuing Pascual’s vision of internationalization, ending contractualization, the possibility of free tuition for students, as well as a higher salary for faculty and staff members.
“Sa aking pagtanggap sa katungkulan bilang presidente ng unibersidad, tinanggap ko rin po ng kusang loob ang lahat ng hamon sa kanya,” said Concepcion.
During the ceremony, Concepcion also introduced the university officials who will part of his cabinet.
Concepcion was selected as the new UP President after receiving the most votes in a round of secret ballot voting by 11 members of the UP Board of Regents on Nov. 15, 2016.
He was chosen over former UPD Chancellor Caesar Saloma, UPD Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Benito Pacheco, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Christina Guevara, former Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion, and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) commissioner Prospero De Vera III.
Concepcion, whose term as UP President will span 2017 until 2023, also lauded Pascual and the victories attained by his administration.
“Napakataas po ng pamantayan na iniwan ni President Pascual,” Concepcion said.
“Kung ito po ay ihahambing natin sa larong luksong tinik, mahirap pong lundagin ang mataas na tinik na kaniyang itinayo,” he added.
Pascual’s term: a vision of internationalization
Prior to the turnover ceremony, Pascual delivered a speech highlighting the achievements of his administration.
The former UP president pointed out the government’s budget increase for the UP system, which rose from P5.8 billion in 2011 to over P13 billion in 2015.
He also mentioned the increased incentives for employees.
Pascual then reported new income-generating projects he spearheaded for the university.
“These were measures to promote the commercialization of UP’s intellectual property,” he said, citing UP Town Center and the Science and Technology park in Los Baños as prime examples, among others.
He also discussed the Green UP Project, which provided a lower utility cost for the university through the installation of solar panels and the use of electric vehicles on campus.
Lastly, the 20th UP President also prided his administration on the establishment of new UP campuses in Cebu, Taguig, and Pampanga, as well as plans of constructing campuses in Tarlac, Davao del Norte, and Alabang to become hubs for medical sciences, agriculture, and technological innovation, respectively.
Pascual expressed that the vision of his term was geared towards ushering in a modern and internationalized UP.
“As the national university, UP is the face of Philippine higher education to the rest of the world,” he said.
“This should inspire us to constantly upgrade our technologies and capabilities to better serve the university and the nation.”
According to Pascual, internationalization requires an unchainable sense of self.
“UP, as the national university, must seek to define and promote a truly Filipino identity and serve the needs of the country, something that we can carry across the globe as we become a greater part of the world we live in,” the former UP President said.
He then gave the succeeding president his best wishes for the upcoming term.
“Today, I will pass on with pride and humility the mantle of leadership to my successor, whose outstanding qualifications give me confidence that the future of UP is in good hands,” said the former President.
“I know he will join in the path to greatness, as I have, with passion to serve in his heart and mind,” Pascual added. #