6 in the running to be next UP President

Story by Kevin Pilapil, Harry Serrano, Harriet Torbeso & Coleen Mendoza

Six nominees are now vying to be the next UP President, as the university faces pressing issues including the transition back to face-to-face classes, impending budget cuts and intensified attacks against stakeholders.

The UP Charter of 2008 designates the University President as the university’s chief academic and executive officer, elected to the position by the Board of Regents (BOR). The nominee to be selected will succeed incumbent Danilo Concepcion, whose term expires in February 2023.

In the running to be the 22nd UP President are :

  • Catanduanes State University President Patrick Alain Azanza
  • Former 1-Ang Kabataan Partylist Representative Salvador Belaro, Jr.
  • Former UP Regent Angelo Jimenez
  • Incumbent UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo
  • Civil Engineering professor Benito Pacheco
  • Former UP Los Baños Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr.

Patrick Azanza: ‘Data-driven University of the Future’

Azanza believes that the university now faces a “reproducibility crisis” that could be resolved through data-driven research.

In his vision paper, he acknowledges that cuts to the university’s budget demand “immediate” attention. He plans to address this by strengthening public-private partnerships and building economic zones using the university’s vacant lands.

He also intends to prioritize providing more benefits for faculty and REPS, including retired personnel. He cited the unimplemented breakaway from the Salary Standardization Law which was supposedly achieved with the new UP Charter. 

In 2020, UP lecturers faced a delay in their salaries and a lack of incentives and subsidies.

READ: UP lecturers not paid since September

Azanza also highlights the need for intensive research on the university’s road to recovery. He says that in order to make “data-driven” decisions, he envisions changing the mindset of his constituents to hone their data ability and teach them to be more data literate.

Azanza was UP Los Baños University Student Council Chairperson in 1986. The following year, he became the Chairperson of KASAMA sa UP, a systemwide alliance of the university’s student councils.

Read more about Azanza’s plans here.

Salvador Belaro Jr.: ‘UP 2030’

Belaro aims to prime UP for challenges it may encounter in the next 20 years by catering to every stakeholder sector.

Among his plans is reviewing and improving existing basic services for the UP community, including salaries for faculty, regularization of staff and financial assistance for students among others. 

READ: Delays in scholarship aid, internet subsidy a ‘perennial problem’ – UP student councils 

He also proposes the construction of more “sustainable” dormitories in revisiting student housing policies and projects.

Read: Short-notice F2F classes sends UP students scrambling for dorms

As the university transitions away from a purely remote learning set-up, Belaro suggests stocking up on vaccine dosages to ensure the health and wellness of constituents.

Last September, UP announced that it will be allowing face-to-face classes for all undergraduate courses next semester.

As the university’s budget is determined by Congress, Belaro proposes outsourcing methods such as more modes of public-private partnerships and exploring the possible applications of legislative measures.

Belaro was Vice Chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education from 2016 to 2019.

Read more about Belaro’s plans here.

Angelo Jimenez: ‘Asking the Big Questions’

Jimenez aspires for the university to be a leading research university globally. He was Student Regent and was appointed to the BOR by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.

Jimenez claims that UP is the only institution in the country that can fare as a world research university, as the university enjoys 20% of the collective budget for the country’s state universities and colleges.

He proposes a multi-sectoral application of the studies the university produces by collaborating with the government, private sectors and local industries. He intends to focus on public health policy-making, disaster risk reduction and maritime protection among others.

Jimenez believes that fear-mongering “should be resisted” among free-thinkers in defending academic freedom, in light of intensified red-tagging of UP students, faculty and alumni in recent years.

READ: Red-tagging of UP students, orgs worsened during pandemic — student councils

Also included in Jimenez’ plans is for the university to lead in improving the quality of other SUCs’ education. He plans to do this by collaborating with the Commission on Higher Education. 

Read more about Jimenez’ plans here.

Fidel Nemenzo: ‘Agile, Smart and High-Impact UP’

Nemenzo’s agenda for the university is centered around science and technology research. 

He proposes expanding programs in bioinformatics, data science and artificial intelligence, which UP Diliman began offering as post-graduate programs in the first semester of AY 2022-2023. 

Nemenzo also plans to create a multi-sectoral policy system using the university’s research outputs on the maritime economy, agriculture and food security, national industrialization and environmental sustainability among others. 

His vision paper also touched on strengthening the general education program and the furtherance of inter-campus task forces, which once materialized as UP Diliman COVID-19 Task Force, in response to the pandemic. 

Nemenzo also targets the digitization of research collaboration amongst UP constituent units, through the use of digital platforms and faculty and exchange programs.

Nemenzo has been UP Diliman Chancellor since 2020 and oversaw the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his term, student formations have called on his administration to institute academic ease policies.

READ: [EDITORIAL] UP, the “boat” is sinking. Don’t pretend it isn’t.

Read more about Nemenzo’s plans here

Benito Pacheco: ‘Imagine UP to 2050’

Pacheco’s primary vision is to make university services more accessible to its constituents through projects he proposes. 

One of these projects includes the “At Own Pace, At Own Pay” program which aims to remove the maximum residency rule, the minimum academic load and the full payment of tuition for semesters not covered by government subsidy.

Under the current policy, students must have taken the minimum number of academic units every semester to qualify for academic honors in their graduating year. Valid reasons must be presented to be allowed otherwise. 

Pacheco added that he hopes to allow a student to take a minor program aside from their major, as part of his goal to make UP more inclusive by giving importance to all fields.

He also plans to uplift the co-curricular activities in the university by engaging the local communities in co-curricular activities done by students and faculty. 

He also aims to categorize activities by student councils and publication activities as co-curricular while still ensuring freedom of expression. 

Read more about Pacheco’s plans here.

Fernando Sanchez Jr.: ‘Synergy in Diversity’

A two-term former UP Los Baños chancellor, Sanchez focuses his plans on inclusivity inside and outside the UP system.

He proposes the construction of more communal spaces, classrooms and joint laboratories to “inspire” the UP community.

Also in his plans is more collaboration with local government units, non-governmental organizations, and other state universities and colleges to address the needs of various sectors of the country.

Sanchez also intends to make the university globally competitive by tapping UP faculty, staff and REPs, and linking to universities all over the world.

For administrators, Sanches envisions a “mandatory” systemwide training program before they could assume ranks in their units. The staff will also be encouraged to undergo training as part of their “capacity building and professional growth.”

Student groups, however, have expressed opposition to Sanchez’ nomination. The UPLB University Student Council said in a statement that his chancellorship “resulted in nothing but hardships to thousands of his constituents.”

Read more about Sanchez’s plans here.

‘Active participation’

At a summit with student-leaders on Oct. 20, Student Regent Siegfred Severino and KASAMA sa UP Chairperson Andrew Ronquillo called on the community to “actively participate” as the BOR elects the next University President.

The SR stressed the need for the next UP President to oppose cuts to the university’s budget and attacks against its stakeholders.

On Friday, Nov. 11, the nominees will present their plans to the community at a public forum at Cine Adarna in UP Diliman.