Several professors emeriti and other faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) have expressed their disappointment and concern over the selection of the new Chancellor of UP Diliman in an open letter addressed to UP President Angelo Jimenez, April 10.
The professors claimed that the UP Board of Regents (BOR) totally disregarded the “overwhelming sentiments and choice of the UP community” when it selected incumbent UP College of Law Dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan II over immediate past Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo.
“In the weeks leading up to the BOR decision, colleges, student councils and organizations, workers’ unions, [and] faculty and community organizations had issued public endorsements for [Nemenzo’s] reappointment,” they said.
“No less than the student, faculty, and staff regents—representing the lifeblood of UP—and a fourth regent—declared their unequivocal support for Dr. Nemenzo,” they added.
“[T]he community’s preference assumes extraordinary significance and deserves to be respected.”
The group also cited concerns with Vistan’s academic rank and credentials compared to fellow candidates Nemenzo and UP School of Archaeology Professor Victor Paz.
Furthermore, they believe that Vistan may face challenges in effectively presiding over UP Diliman’s Executive Committee and University Council due to his academic rank.
“As Chancellor, he will preside over the Executive Committee composed of deans of much higher academic rank and the University Council, many of whom are full professors who have taught in UP for decades, compared to his eight years.”
“This selection simply defies logic and goes against the standards of academic meritocracy—which we judge ourselves by—as well as elementary standards of good governance, and basic principles of organizational management,” the group continued.
The signatories even pointed out that with the Law Dean’s appointment as Chancellor, UP Diliman’s most senior academic officials from Vistan and the Vice President for Academic Affairs to Jimenez do not hold doctoral degrees.
“[It] will not go unnoticed in the international community, especially in this age of ever-rising academic standards,” the professors warned Jimenez.
“This is not to say that you cannot be up to doing your jobs, but it will be a challenge to dispel the impression that academic achievements come secondary to other factors in UP.”
For the group, the University President’s credibility has been “seriously compromised.”
“We cannot quietly abide by a University administration that so callously and carelessly disregards our voice, and fails to live up to the ideals of democratic governance, academic freedom, academic excellence, and integrity that we have long fought for.”
They challenged Jimenez to “demonstrate transparency and accountability” by making the report of the search committee accessible “so we ourselves may know the bases of the selection.”
“We also call on you to publicly disclose the bases for your choice,” the group asked Jimenez.
Vistan currently serves as the Dean of the UP College of Law and Executive Director of the UP Bonifacio Global City campus in Taguig City. Aside from those, he is also Director of the UP Law Center and the UP Office of Legal Aid.
The newly appointed Chancellor of UP Diliman aims to foster a comprehensive development of individuals and communities by providing high-quality and accessible education, conducting research that is relevant and impactful, and promoting meaningful engagement with other stakeholders.
Through this holistic approach, Vistan envisions a UP Diliman that empowers its students and faculty to contribute positively to society and to address the challenges of the time.
“We want UP Diliman to be an academic institution that leads in the holistic formation of individuals and communities through quality and accessible education, relevant in research and engagement with others,” he said.