THEY both deserve long vacations after leading Asia’s oldest and only pontifical university through thick and thin. But former rectors Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. and Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, O.P. have not exactly taken it easy after leaving the rectorship.
They have in fact embraced new and demanding commitments.
Lana, whose term as rector ended last April 31, will enter Georgetown University in Washington D.C. later this year to take up further studies in bioethics, his specialization.
“Definitely, it will be much easier this time, but I can’t just sit down and do nothing. My journey did not end when my term as rector expired,” said Lana, who taught Bioethics at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery even while he was rector in 1998 to 2000.
As rector, Lana spearheaded the University’s expansion outside of Manila by opening campuses in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and General Santos City in Mindanao. He also established UST as a center for contextualized theology in Asia by setting up a research center so named. He also made UST a smoke-free campus.
Meanwhile, after resigning as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) in April last year, De la Rosa is back in the academic groove as UST’s assistant rector for research and development and head of the Thomas Aquinas Research Center (TARC).
He also teaches Hermeneutics at the Faculty of Philosophy, Philippine Church History at the Faculty of Sacred Theology, and Historical Hermeneutics at the Graduate School.
“It’s really a big relief after my term as rector ended as I was able to focus more on my priestly duties and my writing,” said De la Rosa, who is a columnist of the Manila Bulletin and editor in chief of the Boletin Ecclesiastico, the interdiocesan journal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
During his term as rector from 1990 to 1998, De la Rosa stabilized industrial relations in the University, upgraded the curriculum, and set up the Campus Ministry to take care of the spiritual needs of the students.
De la Rosa also created the Research and Endowment Foundation Inc. to raise funds for research in UST.
It was also during De la Rosa’s time that the Ched started the search for Centers of Excellence (COE) and Centers of Development (COD). Before De la Rosa ended his term as rector, UST had become the private school with the most number of COE’s and COD’s .
Refusing to take administrative post in the University after he finished his term, De la Rosa was prevailed upon by the Philippine Dominican Province to take the rectorship of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Calamba, Laguna in 2002. He didn’t finish his term as he was appointed Ched chairman by President Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.
In his short stint as Ched chairman, De la Rosa tried to stop the proliferation of fly-by-night and substandard nursing schools.
De la Rosa is back in the CHED as head of its Technical Panel on Humanities (TPH). He was elected by top educators across the country to the post by virtue of his chairmanship of the Technical Committee on Religious Education, one of more than a dozen committees under the TPH, which advises the Ched on academic programs on the fine arts, literature, music, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities.
Both Lana and De la Rosa said they will support the next rector, whoever he may be.
“The people nominated as rector are always capable, so I’m very confident whoever is appointed will do a good job,” Lana said.
De la Rosa is one of three names submitted to the Vatican to succeed Lana, aside from Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P. and Central Seminary Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P.
But De la Rosa said he does not want to go back to his former assignment.
“Eight years (as rector) is more than enough time for one to accomplish so many things,” De la Rosa said. “I believe that for the University to grow, it should have different leaders, people with different visions for UST.”
The Vatican’s Sacred Congregation on Catholic Education has yet to name the next rector, but De la Rosa said that Arceo, who was vice-rector during his rectorship, is the leading contender.
“Based on the various meetings during the election period, Father Arceo is the leading candidate,” De la Rosa said. Jordan Mari S. De Leon