The UP College of Law dean search committee has rejected a request to extend the search process, citing a need to submit its report to the Chancellor by Friday. A group of nine law faculty members had requested an extension last week, arguing that the current timetable was too short.
“Pursuant to the ‘democratic governance’ of the university as mandated by law, [the dean’s] selection should be an open, fair, and deliberative process that would allow the meaningful participation of as many possible interested stakeholders,” wrote the faculty members, which includes former Law Dean Fides C. Cordero-Tan and Theodore Te, a 2017 dean nominee.
However, the search committee, in its response on November 17, insisted on the UP Board of Regents (BOR)-mandated deadline on Friday for their final report.
The selection of UP officials has been a thorny topic in the university in recent years. In the aftermath of the controversial 2023 Diliman chancellor selection, the University Council (UC) released four recommendations to “strengthen democratic governance” in these appointments.
The UC’s first recommendation envisions standardized selection rules. If implemented, this will change the current practice where the UP president issues an administrative order to govern the search process each time an appointment is due. As co-chair of the BOR, the UP president has a vote in these appointments and even sends a representative to the search committee–in this case, Vice President for Legal Affairs Abraham Rey Acosta.
Curiously, though, the panel appeared to have conceded the abbreviated search calendar by encouraging the sectors to instead submit letters or position papers regarding the deanship nominees until yesterday. The said letters will be included in the committee report “as part of the Chancellor and Board of Regents’ reference,” wrote Julkipli Wadi, the chairperson of the search committee and dean of the UP Institute of Islamic Studies.
The nine faculty members’ concerns stem from the seemingly unconventional search process for the law dean. For instance, only three hours were allotted for the committee to interview the college sectors for their input to the nominees.
This pales in comparison to the usual one whole day of sectoral interviews, which covers students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as used in the ongoing search for the College of Music dean.
In yet another departure from custom, the search committee did not even announce the full timetable of the search process when it called for nominees on October 20. It was only on November 14 that the calendar was released to the college, with the nominees' public forum being held two days later.
“We strongly believe that the risk of disenfranchising critical constituencies outweighs any benefits derived from rushing the deanship selection process and any inconvenience in adjusting the Board of Regents’ agenda and calendar,” wrote the group of UP Law faculty members.
The ongoing search for the 17th UP Law dean was precipitated with the appointment of its current dean, Edgardo Carlo Vistan, as the chancellor of UP Diliman. Vistan has been serving as the chancellor and law dean since April.
Two nominees are vying for the post, namely Darlene Marie Berberabe, a senior lecturer, and Gwen Grecia-De Vera, an associate professor of law.
Berberabe was the president and chief executive officer of the state-run PAG-IBIG Fund from 2010 to 2017 and is currently an independent director of SM Prime Holdings Inc. Meanwhile, Grecia-De Vera served as the executive director of the Philippine Competition Commission from 2017 to 2018 and was a former dean of the Manuel L. Quezon University School of Law.
The BOR will pick the next UP Law dean in its meeting on November 30 in UP Los Baños. ●
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