HOPES are up as the University prepares to welcome a new rector and leave behind the bitter hospital dispute that has marred the otherwise smoothly paved road toward UST’s quadricentennial in 2011.

Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., who was to serve only as UST caretaker following a high-level leadership shakeup ordered by Rome last September but has now been tasked by fellow Dominican friars to stay on as Rector Magnificus, has much work to do to keep the University’s status as the foremost Catholic educational institution in the region.

But UST officials believe the former head of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and two-time University rector is still up to the job, despite his much-known reluctance to return to his old post.

“Father De la Rosa (had been) rector before so we expect a better leadership from him,” Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez told the Varsitarian. “His experiences as a CHED chairman could help in advising different colleges on how to deal with (accreditation).”

Father De la Rosa’s tenure from 1990 to 1998 has been described as “glory years” for UST, for attaining the most number of Centers of Excellence and Development among private universities in the country, among other achievements.

“I believe in him because of his high regard for education. He values what the teacher can do for the students not only academically but also in preparing them to become good citizens of the country,” Fernandez said.

Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Clarita Carillo said Father De la Rosa should lead the University with “competence and wisdom.”

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“He should also push for the recognition of the University not only as a teaching institution but (also as) a master in research,” Carillo said. “Policies for human resource should also be given focus.”

Road to a global UST

Carillo said the unexpected transition should not affect pending projects like the plan to create new University-wide departments to upgrade general education.

“We are planning to create a language center,” Carillo told the Varsitarian. “This center will cater to the language needs of students outside what a regular curriculum offers. This is a very powerful tool to reach global standards especially when it comes to research.”

The center also aims to aid foreign students in their English deficiencies.

The Architecture dean hopes the plan to divide the College of Architecture and the College of Fine Arts and Design “horizontally” will push through under the new rector. The colleges are housed in separate wings at the Beato Angelico Building.

“We find the need to divide the college horizontally because accreditors would usually take this against us.” Fernandez said. ”Accreditors usually ask why the students or the facilities in this wing differ from the other. This leaves them confused and takes it as a minus point.”

The plan is for the UST Publishing House to leave the Beato Angelico and transfer to the Isabel Building on España Street outside the campus. The space will be given to Architecture and the workshop area will be turned over to Fine Arts and Design.

“Hopefully they will consider pushing through with the project since we want to admit many students next year. Last semester we had to turn away more than 400 students,” Fernandez said. “We are hoping that we could add at least three more classrooms.”

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In a recent study conducted by the Planning and Development office, Architecture scored 115% when it comes to classroom utilization, pointing to the need for bigger space.

Literature, student welfare

Aside from educational reforms, Center for Creative Writing and Studies director Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta believes Father De la Rosa will continue to support research and literary endeavors in the University.

“I am pleased and I could have not wished for somebody else,” Dimalanta said. “I am optimistic that Father De la Rosa will support the cause of literature and creative writing in the University. While research is also in fact the main thrust of Father Roland, I am sure that with his literary inclination, he will also give attention to literature.”

When it comes to students’ welfare, Father De la Rosa has shown eagerness to address grievances and other problems, said Cristina Castro-Cabral, assistant to the rector for student affairs.

“He always thinks of how (the UST administration) can respond immediately, adequately and appropriately to the sentiments of the students,” she said.

At the exhibit during last month’s Students’ Rights and Welfare Week, Father De la Rosa even proposed to revive the process in which a representative of the Student Affairs can check on student services and facilities and coordinate with the Buildings and Grounds office.

In fact, Father De la Rosa requested a copy of everything in the exhibit, Central Student Council president Reyner Villaseñor said.

The council is now going from one college to another to take pictures of classrooms and facilities, which will later be brought to the attention of University authorities.

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“Father De la Rosa expresses his interest in supporting a real student-friendly campus,” he said. “He’s been open to the students, with the student activities, and even in student disciplinary cases.”

But Villaseñor wants Father De la Rosa to finally confer with the student council on when the Student Code, formerly the Magna Carta of Students’ Rights, will be enacted.

“We hope to have a plebiscite before the University-wide elections in the last week of January,” Villaseñor said.

Father De la Rosa, appointed acting UST rector by the Dominican master general last September to spearhead the review of the controversial spinoff and expansion of UST Hospital, won successive ballots conducted among UST Dominicans and members of the Academic Senate last month to choose the new rector.

In September, the three top UST officials – Vice Chancellor Fr. Edmund Nantes, the head of the Filipino Dominicans; UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P.; and UST Vice-Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P. stepped down as an offshoot of an intra-order dispute surrounding the spinoff of the UST Hospital into a separate corporation and a P3-billion loan for its expansion.


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