FR. ROLANDO V. de la Rosa, O.P. will officially become the Quadricentennial Rector of UST after the Vatican formally confirmed his election as rector of UST for an unprecedented third term. Previously he was rector for two consecutive terms, 1991-1994 and 1995-1998.

Half a year after being elected by fellow Dominicans and UST deans, De la Rosa finally got the blessing from Rome to serve for at least four more years as rector.

In a May 8 circular, UST Secretary General Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P. formally informed University officials that the Vatican has accepted De la Rosa’s appointment.

“The Congregation for the Catholic Education has confirmed the appointment of Rev. Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., as the 95th Rector of the University of Santo Tomas,” the circular stated.

Dela Rosa’s installation will immediately follow the opening Mass for academic year 2008-2009 on June 10.

The formal appointment took six months. The procedure to choose a new rector started a month after the resignation of then UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. with two other top University officials, amid the canonical visit of Fr. Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, O.P., the Dominican master general, last September 11.

The September shakeup was the offshoot of the dispute within the Order of Preachers over how to redevelop and expand UST Hospital following a decision by University officials to take out a P3-billion bank loan to build a hospital tower Under Article 10 of the General Statutes of the University, UST officials had to submit to the Dominican headquarters and the Vatican three names via a vote.

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First to vote were Dominican fathers under the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas in UST, whose nominations were also approved by the Academic Senate composed of the vice chancellor, the vice rectors, the secretary general, and college deans.

De la Rosa was on top of the lists of the UST priests and members of the Academic Senate, who voted Nov. 6 and 12, respectively. The two other nominees were Arts and Letters Regent Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P. and Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy Dean Fr. Enrico Gonzales, O.P.

Also on Nov. 12, the University’s Board of Trustees deliberated on the results and decided to endorse the nominees for rector to then acting UST Vice Chancellor Fr. Hilario Singian, O.P.

De la Rosa and Aligan, two candidates who were members of the board, did not attend the deliberation. Along with the two in the UST Board of Trustees were Fr. Honorato Castigador, O.P., Fr. Tamerlane Lana O.P., Fr. Clarence Marquez, O.P., Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, O.P., Fr. Manuel Roux, O.P., and Fathers Singian and Abaño.

The names of the three nominees were forwarded immediately to the Dominican Curia, which submitted the list to the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome for approval.

Focus on research

Last September, then Faculty of Civil Law regent De la Rosa was appointed acting rector by the Dominican master general following Arceo’s resignation due to the hospital dispute. Vice Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P. and the head of the Filipino Dominicans, Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P., who was UST vice chancellor, also quit.

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Tasked to resolve the hospital woes, De la Rosa also became chief executive officer of USTH, with a firm order to dissolve the UST Hospital Inc., which separated from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 2004 to undertake the hospital redevelopment plan.

The acting rector immediately showed eagerness to again pursue his advocacies when he occupied the top UST post almost two decades ago, such as improved research output. Plans for the UST Research Center began under his term in 1991.

Before the school year ended, De la Rosa called for more researchers, stressing that “research is an integral part of the University.”

In his message during the Research/Creative Works and International Publication Awards at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center, De la Rosa said UST’s research output was inadequate considering there are over 2,600 faculty members in the University.

“If our tribe (researchers) will increase then I would consider it as my greatest achievement,” De la Rosa said.

Edge

Having been a two-term rector in the 1990’s, De la Rosa had made a number of achievements.

For instance, he ordered the renovation of the UST Archives, which houses rare books, historical documents, and various artifacts.

De la Rosa also established the Educational Technology Center which houses information technology and broadcast facilities, and the Center for Campus Ministry.

UST also saw the most number of centers of development and centers of excellence proclaimed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) under his term.

After his second term at the helm of UST, De la Rosa became prior of the St. Thomas Aquinas Priory in UST and rector of Letran in Calamba. In October 2004, he was named by President Macapagal-Arroyo as chairman of the CHEd, but resigned after six months because politicians opposed his campaign to close substandard nursing schools.

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De la Rosa graduated magna cum laude in three of his academic degrees – Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the Dominican House of Studies, Licentiate Degree in Sacred Theology from UST, and Doctorate in Philosophy in Religious Studies. He also received a meritissimus for his Masteral Degree in Higher Religious Studies in UST.

He finished his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Katholieke Universitiet Leuven in Belgium.

Immediately after ordination, De la Rosa served as Master of Novices of the Philippine Dominican Province. In 1984, he transferred to UST as regent of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Before his first term as rector, he had already served as acting UST secretary general, director of the Santo Tomas University Press, and professor of the Graduate School and the Faculty of Sacred Theology.

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