WILL the University’s alumni “come home” for the 2011 celebrations?

Or will they fall short of UST’s expectations, like the grand alumni homecoming last April 29 at the Manila Hotel where only a third of the projected 1,500 attendees attended?

But Public and Alumni Affairs Office (PAAO) director Dr. Cristina Cabral said she was happy with the number of walk-ins and balikbayans who attended for the event.

“We were actually overwhelmed by the turnout of walk-in ticket buyers, and balikbayans who came home for the event,” Cabral said.

Of the 466 registered alumni attendees, the College of Architecture had the most participants with 75. The Faculty of Arts and Letters had 53, while the College of Education had 42, and the Faculty of Pharmacy, 22.

Council of Alumni Presidents chair Architect Felino Palafox, Jr. said the council is planning to produce an alumni directory to help the PAAO in information dissemination efforts.

“We’re looking into the idea of producing a directory of all alumni and to update it every five years, from the latest graduates down to the oldest living alumnus,” Palafox said.

Aside from the low alumni turnout, the event was hit by several technical problems, including brownouts and malfunctioning microphones and audio-visual presentations.

Former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad, an alumnus of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters and former Varsitarian staffer, noted that organizers could have devoted more preparation to ensure the success of the event.

“The homecoming was exciting, but the organizers could have allotted more time to gather more alumni and prepare more for a ‘grand’ event,” Tatad said.

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The homecoming coincided with the 395th founding anniversary of the University. It was also the first of the five grand alumni homecoming series that will take place yearly until 2010, prior to the main grand alumni homecoming in 2011.

“We believe this year’s homecoming would act like a ‘networking’ for all the alumni who attended the event and that they would invite others who weren’t able to attend for next year,” Cabral said.

Who’s who?

Despite the low turnout several prominent alumni graced the event, including Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Manila Hotel president and former Senator Joey Lina, award-winning director Gil Portes, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist and former Varsitarian editor Neal Cruz, former Manila Standard editor in chief and former Varsitarian editor in chief Julie Yap-Daza, Biz News Asia Editor in chief and former Varsitarian managing editor Tony Lopez.

TV personalities Ali Sotto and Arnold Clavio, who are Communication Arts and Journalism alumni, also hosted the four-hour event.

Fr. Melchor Saria, O.P. presented the Fourth Centennial Fund, a fund raising campaign to sustain projects intended for UST’s grand celebration on 2011.

For 2006, the University hopes to raise P5 million.

“Although (the Fund Raising Committee) is not going full blast in its solicitation, we are confident we will be able to gather the seed money for the quadricentennial fund,” Vice-Rector for Finance Fr. Melchor Saria, O.P. told the Varsitarian. “We have quite a number of successful alumni who will be willing to help us.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Rector Tamerlane Lana, O.P. sought the participation of the alumni towards the University’s Quadricentennial plans, which include several expansion programs in Laguna and, General Santos City, and major physical and landscape changes in the España campus.

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“The affair proves to be very significant. It provides us with a special moment to reiterate that now is the most (opportune) time that we can rally you (our alumni) to be involved actively with the affairs of the University,” Lana said. Marc Laurenze C. Celis and Kerwin Patrick M. Mercadal

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