TOWARDS A UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR ALL FILIPINOS By: Prof.

Leonor Magtolis Briones First Forum on the UP Presidency UP Los Baños September 20, 2010

Introduction I first entered the UP as a graduate student in 1960. It took me fifty years to make the long and tortuous climb from Research Assistant to University Researcher, to Assistant Professor and finally Full Professor. In between, I was Vice President for Finance and Administration of the University. The UP taught me the most precious lesson of all: love of country. I learned from UP that acquired knowledge and wisdom is of little use unless practiced in the real world, and shared in the service of the people. Vision Statement My vision is that of a University of the Philippines which will be at the cutting edge of innovation, invention and change, whether it be in science and technology, the social sciences, culture, literature and the arts. I see it pushing forward the frontiers of knowledge, and using this knowledge in the service of all Filipinos and of the country. The pursuit of academic excellence Without doubt, the UP is the leading institution of higher learning in the country. It attracts the best students, boasts of a strong faculty, and leads in all fields of learning. There is no question about the university’s performance in licensure examinations as well as the quality of our graduates in the traditional academic fields. Our graduates top government examinations with boring regularity. Nonetheless, the University Charter’s mandate about its being a graduate as well as research university requires serious strategizing. The uneven quality and content of graduate programs offered by the autonomous universities require constant assessment. The role of the UP president in harmonizing the various strengths of the autonomous universities and mobilizing domestic as well as international resources is crucial.

Serving the country and contributing to national development The university has a long tradition of community service, provision of expertise and contributions to national development. It has provided a significant number of this country’s political leaders, great thinkers, scientists, dissenters and critics as well. All the autonomous universities render assistance to communities, local governments and national institutions. Many of these patriotic contributions are unheralded, unnoticed, and uncounted. Regular assessments can be made and various experiences shared so the wheel need not be reinvented by different campuses and successful innovations in development work can be replicated. Responding to changing demands I envision the UP as playing a major role in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and beyond. The target date is 2015. The eight goals can be summarized into four: education, health, agriculture and the environment. We all know that all the numbers on education are going down. In the area of health, the goals on nutrition and maternal mortality are at risk. Agriculture, fisheries and mining are where most of the poor people are; yet this sector had negative growth of –3 in the second quarter of 2010! The other looming threat is climate change. It is not in the MDGs but the effects of climate change are already here. The university system has the largest accumulation of talents and expertise in the four areas. Such expertise has to be offered to the country in an organized and integrated manner. Let us take UP Los Baños. The College of Agriculture has four degree programs in addition to its graduate programs. The College of Engineering offers five engineering degrees, notable of which is the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering. The School of Environmental Science and Management offers integrated instruction research and various extension services. . The College of Forestry and Natural Resources has a reputation as one of the nation’s finest. As a center of excellence it can surely help work out strategies in sustainable and people-oriented management of forest resources on a national scale. Finally we have the College of Public Affairs with offerings in five graduate degrees focusing on agriculture and rural development.

Surely, UP Los Baños is such a rich resource for this country! The other campuses are likewise in a position to offer world class professional expertise towards the solution of the various crises confronting the country.

Democratizing Access The biggest economic and social challenge faced by the country is persistent poverty. Even as the economy grows, poverty grows as well. Economic growth has not resulted in increased employment. The poorest regions, the poorest provinces and the poorest municipalities are in the Visayas and Mindanao. It is also known that a significant number of the poorest Filipinos are from the indigenous people and Muslim communities. The university can play a major part by making UP education available to more indigenous people, Muslims and the very poor. The UP charter itself is against discrimination. Nonetheless poverty is a major challenge for these disadvantaged communities.

Financial autonomy for the university Recent experience has shown that sustainability of financial resources from government cannot be assured, considering its own deficits and fiscal problems. The challenge is for the UP to tap other sources of financing. Some properties of the university are now providing additional funds. Nonetheless, dependency on the national government is still very high. Other properties and resources of the UP, especially those of the other autonomous units needed to be developed and tapped. Faithful alumni of the UP traditionally contribute regularly their time and treasure. It will be useful to develop new products and projects which will not only benefit the university but will also appeal to the alumni. Many other innovative ways of generating finances can be developed and special units can be organized in the UP system to focus exclusively on financing the university. International sources should be considered as well. This is perhaps where my experience in financing public organizations can be of use. Closing statement Academic excellence is a primary pursuit which has to be balanced with service to the country and responsiveness to its changing demands and expectations. However, it can

only be attained with sustainable financial, material and human resources. Most important of all, the UP must not be a university only for those who can afford to pay increased tuition fees and the limited number who can be accommodated through affirmative action. It has to continually strive to be a University of the Philippines for all Filipinos, especially for the disadvantaged and the excluded.