The student body, faculty and non-academic staff members of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus is waiting for the election of their new Chancellor, and many of them are hoping that will be Prof. Rolando B. Tolentino.
Each constituent university of UP is headed by a chancellor, who is elected on a three-year term by the Board of Regents. Unlike the president, who is elected on a single six-year term without re-election, the chancellor maybe re-elected for another three-year term but it is upon the discretion of the members of the Board of Regents.
This year, besides Tolentino, there are four other nominees for the post, namely Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza from the College of Education, Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio (University Center for Women’s Studies/UCWS), Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara (College of Engineering/CoE), and Dr. Caesar A. Saloma (College of Science/CS).
According to a memorandum issued by outgoing UP president Emerlinda Roman, the UPD chancellor search committee shall submit to UP president-select Alfredo Pascual a report of the search process and an assessment of the nominees for the position.
Pascual will choose one nominee from the search committee’s list. The Board of Regents, the highest policy-making body of the university, willl vote upon the president’s choice tomorrow, March 2. The UP Board of Regents (BOR) will vote via secret balloting tomorrow at 9am.
The Bor is comprised of 11 members, with two members representing the faculty and the student body respectively.
A supporter of pro-poor, democratic educationTolentino, currently the Dean of the UP College of Mass Communications (CMC), has won the full support of cause oriented groups within the university and even outside because of what they say has been his “consistent pro-people, nationalist education” stand since his days as a student and as a professor.
In dialogues with the members of the UP community, Tolentino has professed that primary in his agenda would be the democratization of UP education. He said that he wants UP to engage more in non-academic but socially relevant issues . He also wants to “democratize” admissions to the university.
“UP Diliman’s colleges and institutions must intervene and take a stand on crucial academic and non-academic issues. Walang publikong karakter ang UP Diliman kung hindi nito kayang buksan ang kanyang pinto sa mga kwalipikado pero mahihirap na mag-aaral,” he said. Tolentino has time and again said that the greatest challenge for UP as it enters into another century is to remain faithful to its character as a national and a public university whose scholars are honorable, excellent and of service to the people.
“While UP has to strive to live up to its values it is known for – honor and excellence – these must be anchored on the values of public service, transparency and good governance. For me, there is no real honor and excellence if these were not rooted on service to the people, transparent processes and democratic governance in the University,” he said.
Tolentino has long been supporting the call of academic and non-academic personnel in UP for salary hikes; the same way he has also been supporting the national campaign of private sector workers and government employees for wage increases. He has been a prominent participant in multisectoral campaigns both within and outside the university opposing corruption in government and demanding for economic reforms favoring the poor.
“I am all for establishing other forms of support for faculty, and non-academic staff including the provision of additional housing on campus, and if possible, outside of the campus, computer plans, shuttle service, medical and dental plans and other basic social services,” he said.
A critic of education privatization
In the meantime Tolentino has also been a critic of what he views as undeniable indications of UP’s divergence from this mission.
“There’s the the atomization of colleges in Diliman, along with their income-generating schemes toward self-sufficiency; the emergent class character of UP students who must not only be intelligent but also financially endowed; the uneven distribution of benefit packages among REPS, administrative staff and faculty; the lack of a formal grievance procedure for tenure and promotion; the lack of enabling conditions for junior faculty members and the many cases of exclusion of qualified senior faculty members from assuming more responsibilities on account of administrative parochialism; the interrelation and demarcation of power among governing units; the implementation of neoliberal policies or the practical and ideological privileging of private business and markets in running the affairs of the University when public service is its rightful character, etc,”he said.
These, Tolentino said, make up for an alarming state of things for the so called ‘university of the people.
His goal if elected as chancellor is directed toward the upholding of the innovative and productive spirit of the Iskolar ng Bayan (one who is accountable to the Filipino people who subsidizes every scholar’s UP education; one who will serve the interest of the people after graduation) and the development of a culture of innovation.
“There is a need for a transparent and democratic governance to arrest the atomization of colleges and constitutent universities, and the development of solidarity that recognizes and cares for the welfare of all.The goal of this vision is to make UP the leader in higher education both within the nation and the region,” he said.
Besides calling for a university more attuned to its inherent role as a university serving the Filipino people, Tolentino said that he will bat for improved academic excellence in the university.
He said that he will promote research that is anchored on the interest of national development. Concretely, Tolentino is all for increasing funding for Research Dissemination Grants.
“We need this so more faculty members will be able to propagate new knowledge through conferences. I also hope to create a support system for excellent journals of the different colleges that will be able to solicit contribution from scholars from other universities and other countries,” he said.
Tolentino has laid down a comprehensive plan of action that involves the utilization of university funds for the purchase of books and research materials; the conduct of multidisciplinary seminars; the initiation of projects that from the different units within the four clusters of UP Diliman; and the promotion of multidisciplinary teaching especially on General Education courses.
Writer, researcher, public servant
Tolentino has won the support of various members of the academic of the university, among them National Artist for Literature and College of Arts and Letters Professor Emeritus Bienvenido Lumbera, Prof. Jose Wendell P. Capili, and poet/painter and writer Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes, and Prof. Elmer Ordonez, founding director of the University of the Philippines Press. They have all given glowing recommendations of Tolentino and his qualifications.
Lumbera said t Tolentino is “nationally recognized” his erudite studies on the relationship between cultural work and contemporary political life in Philippine society.
“As a full professor who has spent more than 30 years in the Diliman community, I can think of no one more qualified that Tolentino to discharge the duties of Chancellor,” he said.
Reyes said that UP has many efficient administrators, artists, researchers academics who have become famous even outside the country. What the university needs, he said, is an individual who personifies all this and more.
“Mahalaga ang papel ng isang bisyunaryo sa pagpapatakbo ng alin man institusyon. Mayroon din tayo nito, bisyunaryo, si Rolando Tolentino,” he said.
Capili said that here are “very few” individuals who can approximate Tolentino’s capabilities and accomplishments as a writer, scholar, administrator and teacher.
Tolentino’s output, Capili said reveals much about his personal and political philosophies, all of which show that the man is more than an academic and an artist, he is also a public servant.
Among Tolentino’s works are the books Sakit ng Kalingkingan: 100 Dagli sa Edad ng Krisis (2005), Kuwentong Syudad (co-editor, 2002), Sapinsaping Pag-ibig at Pagtangis: Tatlong Novella ng Pagsinta’t Paghinagpis(1999); Fastfood, Megamall at iba pang kwento sa pagsasara ng ikalawang milenyum (1999); Relasyon: Mga Kwuwento ng Paglusong at Pag-ahon (co-editor, 1999); Ali*bang+Bang atpb. Kwento (1994); Habilin: Antolohiya ng Katha Para sa Pambansang Kasarinlan (co-editor, 1991); Engkwentro: Kalipunan ng mga Akda ng Kabataang Manunulat (co-editor, 1990).
Capili said that Tolentino’s body of work challenges the boundaries the separated “high” art from “low” art in the Philippines.
“For Prof. Tolentino, creative and critical productions should not cater to a privileged few. Art should be accessible to a larger demographic,” he said.
Tolentino himself admits that he also intends to give emphasis on the further cultivation of arts and culture in UP Diliman. He says that if elected, he will also push for the implementation of programsthat help develop democratic values, nationalism and national identity.
In the meantime, volunteerism is something Tolentino wants to strengthen in UP, as he says he wants to relaunch the “Pahinungod” program which promoted voluntarism particularly among students . The program, he said, may be considered in order to promulgate service to the people and for this value to be brought to the poorest of communities.
Faculty and non-academic staff as well as residents of other UP campus communities have also thrown their support for Tolentino’s nomination for chancellor. Letters of strong recommendation from UP Visayas, UP Baguio, UP Miag-ao and UP Los Banos have been posted on the website established by Tolentino’s supporters. All the letters said that Tolentino has already proven his mettle as an administrator because he has been an excellent dean. “He is responsive to the needs of students, faculty and the rest of the community; he will uphold the interest of the university as a whole,” they said.
The mass communications dean is also the best bet for the chancellorship according to 21 academics from 17 universities in the United States. The 21 educators – all alumni of UP — wrote UP Pres. Pascual, also endorsing Tolentino. They are assistant professors, professors, doctorate degree holders from institutions such as the University of Hawaii, Stony Brook University, California State University San Bernardino, Pratt Institute, University of Washington, University of California Los Angeles, College of Mt. Saint Vincent, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, San Jose State University, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, St. John Fisher College, Old Dominion University, University of California Berkeley, Columbia University and San Francisco State University.
Finally, among those campaigning for Tolentino is the All UP Workers Union. They put a post on the social networking site Facebook declaring why they support Tolentino, and this, perhaps, is the best endorsement even when compared to the those given by Tolentino’s colleagues in the academic field:
1. Ang Chancellor namin ay kontra sa diskriminasyon sa mga kawani.
2. Ang Chancellor namin ay demokratiko at bukas ang pamamalakad at kinikilala ang Collective Negotiation Agreement o CNA.
3. Ang Chancellor namin ay sumusuporta sa laban ng 10 days additional sick leave (severance pay).
4. Ang Chancellor namin ay naininindigan na hindi dapat ituring na NEGOSYO ang mga basehang serbisyo tulad ng University Food Service, Health Service at iba pa.
5. Ang Chancelor namin ay laban sa kontraktualisasayon ng lahat ng kawani, at may mithiing isa regular ang mga kontraktual na kawani.
6. Ang Chancellor namin ay hindi bulag sa aping kalagayan ng agency- hired employee at non-UP contractual.
7. Ang Chancellor namin ay naninindigan laban sa budget cut.
8. Ang Chancellor namin ay naninindigan na ang UP ay pamantasan ng bayan at tumitindig sa mga pambansang isyu tulad ng Maguindanao massacre.#