UP must look at gaps, divides that require bridges

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Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer | Inquirer.net - By Erika Sauler

Dr. Tan affirmation

MANILA, Philippines—“To build and sustain the university that is 106 years old, we need to look at the gaps, the divides that require bridges,” University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan said during the affirmation rites held on Friday at the University Theater in Quezon City.

The UP Board of Regents affirmed Tan as the 10th chancellor of the Diliman campus in official rites held eight months after his appointment.

In his speech, Tan proposed to build bridges in seven areas: mind and body gap, academic silos, class divide, environment, constituent universities, the UP Integrated School and the UP Extension Program, and the outside world.

“We want to remain safe and smug in our Diliman Republic, but that means abdicating our duty to serve others,” said Tan who is also an Inquirer columnist. “UP cannot be a world unto itself. We have a responsibility as well to the world outside—to Quezon City, to the nation, to Asean, to the world.”

A medical anthropologist and former dean of the College of Social Sciences  and Philosophy, he urged a transdisciplinary approach to academics to  make the students, regardless of their major, appreciate their heritage natural resources.

He said reconnecting with the environment involved exploring renewable energy, recycling and disaster preparedness.

Noting that 42 percent of undergraduates in Diliman fell under the no-discount category while only three percent were entitled to full tuition discount, Tan said that UP needed to democratize access to be a true national university.

In building bridges with the community, Tan said: “I do not coddle squatters, but I want to put things in perspective.”

“We complain constantly about the low-income communities … yet we had done little to deal with business squatters who still pay us rental rates dating to 20 years ago, who have racked up arrears in payments, or who refuse to maintain their premises around public health and environmental standards,” he added.

“Last month, I approved the takeover of Citimall after a longstanding battle with the master lessor who owes us P20 million,” Tan said, adding that managing UP’s space involved both residential and commercial areas.

Executive officers of the UP Diliman administration were also formally affirmed and introduced at the ceremonies: Benito Pacheco, vice chancellor for academic affairs; Virginia Yap, vice chancellor for administration; Fidel Nemenzo, vice chancellor for research and development; Neil Martial Santillan, vice chancellor for student affairs; and Nestor Castro, vice chancellor for community affairs.

 * Photo by EDWIN BACASMAS: DR. MICHAEL Tan (right) is affirmed by UP President Alfredo Pascual as the 10th UP Diliman chancellor in a ceremony held at the University Theater in UP Diliman, Quezon City.