FROM counting numbers to preaching the Word, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. has taken on a whole new task, Herculean in every sense, as rector of the largest Catholic university in the world.

Dagohoy, who replaced Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. last June 4, is a certified public accountant (CPA) who graduated from Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 1985.

So it was rather a leap of faith for him when he decided to become a priest and enter the Order of Preachers on May 10, 1988. At the same time, he did not exactly turn his back on his CPA career.

The decision proved helpful when, as internal auditor of the UST Hospital, he had to deal with a burning controversy. Back in 2007, a dispute over the hospital tower project worth P3 billion led to the resignation of then Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. and other top UST officials.

In Dagohoy, the Thomasian community now has a rector who’s no stranger to numbers and with proven managerial skills. These assets would come in handy when it comes to running a school of more than 40,000 students.

Ordinary man

Fr. Jojo considers his new job a “calling.”

“Out of obedience and much reluctance on my part, I think that maybe this opportunity is my calling. But you see, there is what we call Jonah in the Whale complex, that is a tendency of someone who wants to run away from responsibility,” he said.

For the past few days since his appointment, Fr. Jojo felt a certain kind of “running away” from the responsibilities now placed upon his shoulders.

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“If this is really God’s Will, then He will provide me with the necessary strength and wisdom to guide the University as we enter the fifth century,” he said.

“I prayed and I realized that I never prayed hard. That is something I have to do no matter how difficult my task is.”

In confronting difficulties such as the hospital controversy, Fr. Jojo goes an important principle instilled in him when he was younger. Things exist, he believes, because of good intentions. To his mind, they have to be respected, studied, and if needed, improved.

Fr. Jojo credits his predecessor, De la Rosa, for the way he had steered the University in his second stint as rector.

“What he (De la Rosa) has accomplished in the past four years seemed to me unsurpassable. Much of the problems that the University has faced in the past four years were resolved by him. So what the 96th Rector would do is really just to continue what he has started,” Fr. Jojo said.

Fr. Jojo believes that the University should not only be recognized for its research but should also encourage more professors to publish their works abroad.

“As far as academics is concerned, I have to see to it that the University would become more evident in the cross-disciplinary undertakings. I think we have to admit that research is one of the areas that we really have to focus our attention on,” he said.

Accountable leader

Fr. Jojo isn’t new to the rectorship, having served in a similar capacity at Angelicum College. He also served as a superior of the Santo Domingo Convent in Quezon City. Prior to his appointment as UST rector, he headed the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas in UST.

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Fr. Jojo took up AB Philosophy from the Philippine Dominican Center for International Studies in 1990 and finished Theology in UST Faculty of Sacred Theology in 1993. He was ordained on September 28, 1994 at the Santo Domingo Church.

H e pursued a master’s degree in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2000, and a Licentiate (2011) and Doctorate (2012) in Philosophy from UST.

Fr. Jojo also dedicated himself in the study of Ancient Philosophy, Theodicy, Social Philosophy, and Hermeneutics. CATALINA RICCI S. MADARANG AND JUAN CARLOS D. MORENO

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