THE 400th anniversary of UST is still 10 years away, but the University is already at the thick of preparations by welcoming it – not through a party, but appropriately enough, a reassessment of old strengths, a refurbishing of vision, and a renovation of its mission.

In the run-up to the quadricentennial, UST Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. has ordered a revision of the vision-mission statement and formed committees to map out strategic, tactical, and operational plans in consonance with the modified vision-mission.

Specifically, the vision-mission seeks to train UST’s resources in the three chief areas of a university’s work: instruction, research, and community development.

Fr. Jose Antonio Aureada, O.P., Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, said that the revision allowed them to look into the University’s identity as a unique educational institution. The review would also help plan the development of UST by the year 2011.

Center of excellence

By 2011, the University envisions itself to be a Center of Excellence (COE) in various programs of teaching.

At present, UST has eight Centers of Excellence named by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED): Architecture, Chemistry, Electronics and Communications Engineering, Literature, Medicine and Surgery, Music, Nursing, and Philosophy.

Fr. Aureada said UST will accelerate efforts to improve its faculty’s profile.

“At the moment, we still have a majority (of our faculty) with (only) a bachelor’s degree so we would like to accelerate their acquisition of master’s degree (and eventually) their doctorate degrees,” he explained.

In its medium-term plan, the improvement of the University’s faculty profile would require 100 masterals (MA and MS) and 35 doctors of Philosophy (PhD’s) in the Humanities and Social Sciences; 65 MS and 54 PhD’s in Science, Engineering, and Pharmacy; and 60 MS’ in Nursing, Medicine and Physical Therapy.

The University also wants to have all its programs accredited to Level 2 or Level 3 status by the Philippine Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities – Commission on Accreditation (PACCUCOA).

According to former PACCUCOA board chair and College of Science Dean Emeritus Dr. Carmen Kanapi, a PACCUCOA accreditation is given to colleges that have strong research programs and high level of teaching and student competency.

The College of Science was the first in the University to be accredited to Level 3 status.

Meanwhile, Fr. Aureada said that recognition from the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the Philippine Quality Awardee (PQA) would also improvse the international status of the University.

“Universities, such as De La Salle, have an ISO (for its Masters in Business and Arts program), and they are very proud of it. But UST, 400 years old, hindi pa internationally certified as such because we do not have an ISO status yet,” Fr. Aureada said.

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Contextualized Theology

Being the only Catholic, Royal and Pontifical University in Asia, UST aims to become the Center of Contextualized Theology in the region.

To realize this, UST will review and update its curriculum offering, formulate a development program for teaching and research, acquire facilities for a research center, and re-direct student-related policies and guidelines.

According to Fr. Aureada, “The creation of the center would make Theology Asian in content, in orientation, as well as in methodology. Sana lahat ng mga studies dito gagawin by the creation of the center.”

Research expert

On the other hand, Dr. Fortunato Sevilla III, director of Office for Research and Development (ORD), said that UST has to increase its research manpower and enhance the capability of its researchers before it can realize its mission to become a research center.

The University also needs to publish the researchers’ works, Sevilla added.

According to UST’s research chief, there has been an increase in the number of researchers in the University.

“We can say that we are nurturing these researchers. There is an increase in the number of researchers in the Research Center for the Natural Sciences (RCNS), Social Research Center (SRC), Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD), Center for Intercultural Studies, and Health Science Research Management Group,” he said.

UST is nurturing its researchers by providing them the needed facilities, letting them coordinate with various research departments in and out of the University, and giving them incentives for their finished and published works.

However, Dr. Sevilla said that although the University offers good incentives for producing quality research output, faculty members are not that responsive.

“Maganda ang incentives na ibinibigay ng University. `Yun lang nga, hindi kasing-bilis ang pag-respond ng faculty. Hindi mabilis dahil ang ibang colleges, hindi puwedeng pakawalan ang faculty dahil kailangang may magturo. Hindi puwedeng lahat magpunta sa research,” he said.

On the other hand, the Research Complex, which is expected to be completed by August, will meet the University’s need to produce quality research output.

“This is a good proof. Mas maraming facility, mas maraming faculty members (will be encouraged to do research). That would be very helpful in realizing our strategic plan,” Sevilla said.

Meanwhile, organizing new research groups is one of the priorities of the ORD. It intends to have studies in Economics to be coordinated with the SRC. Formalization of the same plan for Chemical Engineering, Nursing, Pharmacy, Sociology, and the Institute of Religion is going on.

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In the research program of the University, other priorities include competent research faculty force, upgraded and well-maintained research facilities, increased funding, improved research quality and productivity, and increased external linkages.

Community service

The Office for Student Affairs and Community Service (Osacs) also revised its framework for community/extension services. The program envisions itself as a powerful agent of social transformation and a leader in community development.

“In an effort to become a leader, we are strengthening the framework within the University and the community service programs we have,” explained Prof. Jose Cruz III, director for community services.

At present, Project Hasik is the main community service program of the University. Since 1981, 16 faculties and colleges have already implemented this program in their partner communities. The project provides services in health, education, livelihood, physical and environmental improvement, and social and spiritual growth (represented by the acronym HELPS).

The approaches, as described in the revised framework of Project Hasik, are implemented through participative, holistic, integrative, and developmental strategies. The Thomasian community will help improve the well-being and quality of life of its partner community by providing services without tolerating dependency.

This will be made posssible by recognizing the partner community’s involvement in decision-making and acknowledging their capabilities for the betterment of their lives.

“Organizing the community is to recognize the contribution of the people in the area as partners in their development and not as recipient of services (so) we think of strategies that would do away the culture of dependence,” Cruz stressed.

Three-fold mission

According to Fr. Aureada, the teaching-research-community service functions should be inherent in any university. This structure is patterned after the American model of the “tripod of academic learning.”

“We expect our faculty not only to be teaching-oriented but to be research-oriented. At the same time, (they must be) professionally empowered to do community research or to contribute to community needs, especially with preferential option for the poor,” Fr. Aureada said.

Meanwhile, the realization of this vision, Cruz said, is to teach students to have the right values and attitudes in doing community services.

“We produce students that are not only academically well-trained and competent but also who can be of help (to the community),” he said.

Dr. Sevilla noted that doing field work helps improve teaching competency and also encourages a student to do research work.

“Tignan mo `yung mga nagre-research, mas may feeling ang kanilang pagtuturo dahil `yung natutunan nila, galing sa research, first-hand experience. Matuturuan nila ang estudyante na maging researchers,” he explained.

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Thomasian values

To fulfill its vision-mission, the University encourages its community to cooperate in the implementation of the strategic, operational, and tactical plans for the year 2011.

At present, UST is inking ties with South Korea and Hong Kong to create an umbrella of academic linkages. The University is also exploring the possibility of forging relations with academic institutions that are topnotchers in the Asiaweek survey of the region’s best universities.

It is also considering revising the course curriculum with emphasis on empowerment and involvement in reaching out to the poor.

The University also aims to improve its graduates’ profile by training them to be analytical, logical, and skilled not only in their fields of specialization but also in various disciplines.

Fr. Aureada clarified that the inclusion of Christian/Dominican values and Filipino sensibilities in the revised policies will reinforce Thomasian values.

“We have that already but we need clearer directions and consistent policies regarding this. Being honest, just, (and) compassionate. These social virtues are what we really need,” Fr. Aureada stressed.

To cultivate appreciation and enhance awareness of the revised vision-mission, large posters of the revised statements have been distributed to the academic and non-academic departments of the University for prominent display.

Fr. Aureada is optimistic that UST will realize its vision-mission by the year 2011.

“This is achievable if everybody would cooperate. Achievable in the sense that we really know what we really need,” he expressed.

The revised vision-mission

Vision

By the year 2011, the University of Santo Tomas envisions itself to be a center of excellence in various programs of teaching, an acknowledged expert in key areas of research in the pure and applied sciences, a leader in community/extension services, and as the Center of Contextualized Theology in Asia. It also envisions for itself an extended physical presence beyond Manila, and a more functional networking mechanism with other universities/institutions.

Mission

The University of Santo Tomas, the Pontifical and Catholic University of the Philippines, a Dominican institution of higher learning, under the inspiration and patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, commits itself to the pursuit of truth and to the preservation, advancement and transmission of knowledge in the arts and sciences, both sacred and civil, through the use of reason illumined by faith. The University affirms its role in the formation of men and women to become competent and compassionate professionals committed to the service of the Church, the nation and the global community.

The University of Santo Tomas translates the above mission into three functions, teaching, research and community/extension services.

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