Public-private partnerships and the large-class system were among the issues discussed by the five nominees for University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman chancellor in a forum at the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) Auditorium last Sunday.
Center for Women’s Studies Director Sylvia Claudio said that UP land could be maximized as an autonomous source of income, provided there was efficiency and equity between the administration and private companies.
Former College of Engineering (COE) Dean Rowena Guevara observed that private money was “much easier and faster to utilize,” citing the recent successful merger of the UP administration and COE alumni in constructing the P43-million UP Centennial Dormitory.
Asian Development Bank consultant Patrick Azanza, also a nominee for UP president last year, believed that interaction with the private sector would help academic units improve their curricula to reflect industry expectations and to produce more competent graduates.
College of Mass Communication (CMC) Dean Roland Tolentino said, “There should be no mad dash to bring in private institutions.” He stressed the need for environment-friendly development of the Academic Oval and preservation of green spaces on campus.
In addition to “necessary” public-private partnership, College of Science (CS) Dean Caesar Saloma called on the government to increase budget allocations for state universities and colleges (SUCs). He added that subsidies for SUCs should be embedded in the national expenditure program, and should not come in the form of oft-delayed congressional insertions.
Large classes, downsized learning
The candidates viewed the large-class system as a response to the lack of facilities and teachers in the university. Tolentino said that in colleges like CMC, where the maximum number of students for production classes is 15 to 20, larger class sizes comes at the expense of student learning. This contrasts with CS classes such as Science, Technology and Society (STS), which accommodates at least 100 students per section.
Guevara emphasized the importance of designing a productive overall learning environment for students of different disciplines. She said that in the COE, her Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) students benefitted from a combination of large-class discussion and smaller lecture classes conducted by senior and junior faculty members, respectively.
Incoming UP president Alfredo Pascual attended the open forum and took down notes as candidates fielded questions from students in the audience. “They have to be candid with what they’re saying, so we will know exactly their capability and their plans for UP,” said Pascual.
The term of incumbent UPD Chancellor Sergio Cao will end on February 28. In a memorandum dated December 6 last year, outgoing UP President Emerlinda Roman outlined the search process for Cao’s successor.
A Search Committee composed of two senior faculty members, one junior faculty member, a representative of Roman and one representative each for the Research, Extension and Professional Staff (REPS), administrative personnel and students was formed to facilitate nominations and evaluate each candidate.
A series of candidate forums was organized to involve the different sectors of the university in the selection process. Each forum will begin with the nominees’ presentation of their vision papers, and will proceed to an open forum. The next forums will be held on January 31 at the UP School of Economics Auditorium and at the Faculty Center’s Claro M. Recto Hall on February 7.
The committee is set to submit their final report to Roman on or before February 18. She will then select the incoming UP Diliman chancellor from this list and present her choice to the Board of Regents, the highest policy-making body in UP, on February 24.