By RACHEL NUÑEZ
Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. will take oath as the ninth Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) this Wednesday, October 29.
Sanchez was selected among three nominees during a meeting of the UP Board of Regents (BOR) last September. He will succeed Chancellor Rex Victor O. Cruz as his term in office ends this October.
In an interview with [P] a week before his formal installation in office, Sanchez said, “I feel happy and nervous at the same time since I will be taking an important position that can affect change in the country, particularly in agriculture.”
Moreover, he added that handling the constituents – students, faculty and staff, is crucial and working together is vital.
“There should be a positive attitude to resolve problems using interdisciplinary approach. I believe that you should have a happy workforce amidst the culture of distrust,” he said.
Practically ‘made in LB’
Sanchez, who claims to be practically “made in UPLB”, earned his primary education at Child Development Laboratory at the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and Maquiling Elementary School (now Maquiling School, Inc.). He continued his secondary education at UP Rural High School and took his undergraduate degree in Agriculture major in Horticulture (1987) and masters degree in Environmental Science (1994) here in UPLB.
When his younger sister excelled in school, he then was “just a normal student”. In college, he was an active member of UP Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity, which he joined in 1984.
After years of living under the supervision of his parents, both former professors in the University, Sanchez said that “the happiest part of his life” is when he took his doctorate degree at Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan – without his parents’ security cloak.
As he came back in the University, he continued teaching at the Department of Horticulture and then took the position as Assistant to Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development for six years. Later on, he was appointed as Vice Chancellor.
Facilities, students, STS
Serving for almost nine years as Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development, Sanchez thinks that the program under his administration that gave the biggest impact for UPLB was the landscape master plan that they initiated under former Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco, Cruz’s predecessor.
“A well-maintained environment is an integral component of a University,” he said.
During his administration, they put up “pocket parks” around the campus and initiated the installation of bollards, commonly referred to as “banga,” along concrete pedestrians. Sanchez plans to make UPLB a “walking and a bicycle campus”.
In line with his goal to improve University facilities and services, he said that he wanted to immediately purchase standby generators in preparation for the energy crisis in 2015. He also added that modernization of electrical lines, water distribution, and waste treatment systems is his priority.
In terms of student affairs, he said that he prefer consensus-building rather than compromise. “Nadadaan lahat sa dialogue,” he said.
“The leadership of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) should be more accommodating to students’ needs and they need to consult it first to the student body,” he added.
With that, he also shared his thoughts on the Socialized Tuition System (STS). “STS should be properly planned and reviewed to provide an evaluation system where the rich pays more at ang karapat-dapat na isko ay mabibigyan ng tamang suporta,” he said.
Meanwhile, as to the alarm on the recent rape case, “campus security must be upgraded and improve to make it more efficient. I believe that we should work hand-in-hand with the local government especially in Barangay Batong Malake and Barangay Putho-Tuntungin. We need to have close cooperation with the local officials and have more police visibility,” he said.
With the vision of “Unity in Diversity: A forward looking globally competitive research university”, Sanchez concluded, “Give me enough time to initiate changes and I hope I won’t disappoint.”
SR Macuha: Sanchez should ‘practice democratic gov’t’
Student Regent Neil John G. Macuha, who sits at the BOR, shared that the board evaluated the merits and demerits of the candidates.
“Members of the board discussed his (Sanchez) background in agriculture being the flagship program of the University,” Macuha said.
“I want to congratulate Dr. Fernando Sanchez for being selected as the new chancellor. I hope that soon to be Chancellor Sanchez would practice democratic government advocating people’s welfare. But before that, I would like to thank Chancellor Cruz for his service to the UPLB students. He had been very supportive and consultative,” Macuha said.
Asked about his expectations from the next chancellor, Macuha said that Sanchez should continue what Cruz has started; ensure student representation in crucial committee; work on how to democratize UPLB and not promote commercialization; and enhance student-faculty-staff welfare. [P]