By: Dr. Raymundo D. Rovillos, UP Baguio Chancellor, 2012 - 2021
If this is considered my final duty as Chancellor of UP Baguio, then I prefer that this moment be not about me nor my administration. Instead let today be about our incoming Chancellor, Dr. Corazon L. Abansi, who will now formally assume the office: deserving of our collective support and goodwill; sending good wishes for a successful administration along with her Executive Staff; and prayers that by the Grace of Divine Providence she may deftly steward the UP Baguio community forward, pursuant to her established vision and goals.
My record now belongs to the judgment of history. And as I take “one more for the road” as Frank Sinatra so eloquently croons, I believe the most important words that must be said today is “thank you.” I thank all of you because I was able to sustain my duties and responsibilities in the past years since I began my first term as Chancellor in 2012 largely because of the invaluable support of a team working behind the scenes to execute our vision and aspirations for UP Baguio.
Having said this, I thank the Executive Staff comprising the administration of UP Baguio from 2012 to 2021 for their able leadership of the university’s academic and administrative units, the faculty across the colleges and departments, the administrative staff, the research, extension, and professional staff (REPS), the alumni, the students, UP system officials, and civil society for all that you have done under our watch. I wish to express my unending gratitude to all by saying that doing things “right” and in the “right way” throughout the years of our incumbency was attainable and sustainable only because you were the “right” mix of people who came through and who have made that important commitment of service to the university and to the people.
This has been an adventure of a lifetime and I have been privileged to take part in it. You all have been an invaluable inspiration to me, and I will take the enduring lessons of this journey with me as I rejoin your ranks, and there also to root for the success of our incoming Chancellor.
There is no person better qualified to “hit the ground running” than Dr. Abansi. She has fingertip knowledge of every facet of the university having been in strategic (she calls it “critical mission”) positions in the executive staff for the past three terms as well. And there is no better time to “hit the ground running” than now when the university’s welfare and continuity is at stake and the tasks at hand have never been so daunting.
On the one hand, I do desire a more elaborate turnover rites for our new Chancellor for she certainly deserves her time in the spotlight. But, to quote another platitude, “for everything there is a season.” We know that now is not the time (yet), but we will have the right time and the place to afford her the proper recognition that she deserves. On the other hand, I know from personal experience that Dr. Abansi’s heart is in the right place and her sense of duty and commitment are over and above the elaborations of ceremony.
I also know that as daunting and overwhelming her prospective tasks might seem, the lessons from our collective experiences - notably of shared undertakings - make us aware that accomplishments arising from a team effort is its own reward. Consequently, from shared burdens come shared satisfactions; of conversations that take place to enrich the experience even further, as the same conversations pave the way for plans to undertake next steps, and so on.
I noticed that the Office of the Chancellor allows the occupant a unique vantage of the multifaceted aspects of university and city life. The seat in the front row sets in motion encounters and interactions with people and historical junctures that take place only in a university, and only a university can produce. Of these, are brilliant minds from both the faculty and students churning out new ideas that contribute to world knowledge systems, pivotal academic-cultural policies such as internationalization and indigenization, new infrastructures and technology that facilitate learning accessibility and convenience.
However, we acknowledge that there are also obstacles and challenges that present itself along the way. Even unforeseen circumstances as we realize, with the pandemic situation that we now confront, which requires swift yet precise reactions in order to establish strategies for mitigation and containment. All of these present a dual responsibility of the person holding this office. For one, the Chancellorship is a management position that involves the supervision of personnel and operating systems and renders the officer accountable for personnel welfare, as well as the seamless functioning and performance of operating systems. On the other hand, it is also a position of academic leadership and commitment that demands locating and allocating knowledge systems and resources that will improve the human and ecological conditions.
Dr. Abansi’s disciplinal orientation responds to this duality of responsibilities. And I am confident that she will bring the awesome powers of her academic credentials, research outputs and publications, administrative experiences, and myriad community advocacies to the Office of the Chancellor for yet another era of progressive stewardship of and for our beloved UP Baguio.
For sure this public health crisis will remain a paramount concern as she begins the actual discharge of the duties and responsibilities of her office. I do not intend to state the obvious, except only to say that historical forces indeed determine our perception of reality. That perception in turn shapes our strategic responses to prospective challenges, conditions, and situations. It begs these questions: What are our priorities? How do we respond to the needs and wants of our constituencies? What would be the nature of our relationship with our community as well as with our environment?
Without trying to get ahead of Dr. Abansi’s thoughts, I am in fact drawn by the ideas that she had outlined in her vision statement particularly the proposition of creating “pathways” to a more resilient UP Baguio. The pathways, as she puts it, can be trailblazing as it were, but it can also tap into established routes leading towards her vision for UP Baguio which is “a culturally rooted academic institution.”
Her concept of “pathways” is inspired by the Ibaloy term “sebang” which is a word used when one establishes a trail in the forest that leads to a hunting ground, or towards a fertile agricultural ground. No other metaphor could be more apt than this, for I agree that “pathways” create solutions, and, if I may add two of my favorite words, “innovations and “imaginations.”
For sure Dr. Abansi will create a different dynamic to her administration. She will leave her own lasting footprint in all of the programs that she will henceforth implement. Her presence will resonate further in all corners of UP Baguio. At some point in our interactions with her, a few of us will ask, “will I be at the wrong side of Dr. Abansi’s vaunted Batanguenña feistiness?” Or “will I pray that her mood today will be as pious as the great devotee of the Virgin of Lipa?” I can assure you that Dr. Abansi does not carry a Batangas knife—right, Dr. Abansi? But she does not need to, because looks could surely kill.
I am of course attempting some moments of cheerfulness here. After all, Dr. Abansi did mention in her vision paper that her approach to leadership is also “exercised with wit and humor.” On a more serious note, Dr. Abansi is one of the sweetest, most generous, and most scholarly persons I have had the privilege to know in my entire professional life. Therefore, it would be my distinct honor and privilege to be her number one cheerleader as she tracks a way forward for UP Baguio pursuant to her goals and vision.
I therefore ask each and every one to throw your full support to our new Chancellor, as we look forward to new and exciting days ahead under her able leadership.
Thank you very much.
(14 April 2021)
This message was delivered by Chancellor Rovillos during the turnover ceremony for the UP Baguio chancellorship held at the UP Baguio Oblation Grounds, on Wednesday, 14 April 2021. Read story at: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialUPB/posts/2595660160728542