This interview with UP presidential nominee Angelo A. Jimenez was conducted by the Collegian editorial board on November 22. This has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Philippine Collegian (PC): What motivated you to accept the nomination to become the 22nd UP president?
Jimenez: I thought this was a period of transition and the most important challenge for UP, or any other institution today, is change. I know about the anxieties and stress that many of us undergo today. But what I really want to say is that we cannot base the future on our anxieties and fears. We have to found it firmly in our hopes. I have known UP ever since. I'm very optimistic about our collective energies and talents. All we need today is just enough courage to move one step at a time so that we can cross the challenge of the pandemic and its aftermath.
PC: From being a member of the UP Board of Regents (BOR), what can you bring to the UP presidency?
Jimenez: The most important thing was a deep insight on systems perspective. We are eight constituent units with important institutions inside like the Philippine General Hospital and Philippine Genome Center which highlights our public service component. I was also a member of the BOR finance committee, and I know what I do because I am always following the money in that committee.
PC: What was the hardest vote or decision you made in the BOR?
Jimenez: When I did not agree to the mass promotion policy in early 2020 because of the pandemic. I thought that as a premier university, people are looking up to UP and everyone is looking at UP. For me, I did not apologize for this. Although I am sensitive to people's feelings, for me it was a copout. We had to force ourselves to show a little more mettle, a little more than the others, a little more intestinal fortitude to say we are going to finish this semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
PC: One of the most striking parts in your vision paper was your plan to digitize UP. How far will you digitize UP?
Jimenez: We have survived two years of online learning. We have survived and it has kept us together. A little bit bloodied on the nose, but it has kept us together. We have to start with our learning management system. Yung SAIS talaga, I wouldn't say it's a complete failure, because it will only be a complete failure if we did not learn from that. Number two, we have to use the internet of things and digital technology for learning delivery as well. We have to learn.
PC: How do you envision UP education under your term?
Jimenez: Any change in curricular or the system of learning must be student-centric. It has to be student-centric, because—I don’t like to use the word client—they are our client. I mean, our students have to be happy, we have to give them the correct university experience, or learning experience. And it’s not just curricular—we also have to give them the best experience in terms of extracurriculars like the student council and the Collegian.
When I was a student, I wrote for the Collegian, I was a chairman in the student council, and I was the student regent. The point is, you have to get inputs from students, you have to get how these students feel about these new teaching tools, because you cannot stick to 19th century teaching tools.
PC: You also said you want to focus on graduate and post-graduate programs of UP. What aspects will you improve in those programs?
Jimenez: We have only about 35 percent of our faculty holding PhD degrees. The ASEAN average is much higher than that and we need to catch up with that. We need postgraduates because they may be oriented towards research. We need to improve the quality of our programs by providing incentives to our faculty to, say, teach in other UP units, especially those far from Manila. If we want our great professors to move around, we need to give them resources like housing. Those are the issues we would want to resolve to improve the quality of our programs across UP.
Before kasi, ang attitude ng UP is, if there’s some expert or scientist we need there, he can come here, train a Filipino, and the Filipino will eventually take it over from the foreigner. The world is not like that, you cannot do that anymore. Knowledge knows no nationality.
PC: Speaking of resources, how do you envision resource generation under your term?
Jimenez: It is not so much the funding that makes an entity a public entity. It is the policy and decision and the government structure—if those are controlled by the public, then it is a public institution. If public-funded money can be used to provide the human resources needed for the private sector, for me, there is no conflict in looking at it the other way around—private sector partnering with the university to produce knowledge that can serve the people. The point is, universities must be relevant and responsive. There must be a match between industry needs and the product of our universities.
Yung rent ng Ayala TechnoHub at UP Town Center, hindi natin na-maximize. Under my term, I want to do research on how we can maximize more, how to generate internally. And I specifically have special economic zones in mind for research activities and companies that we can use here in UP.
PC: The UP president is, arguably, also a national leader. If you’re selected, what kind of relationship do you plan to have with national government agencies?
Jimenez: We are a government school with a very clear mandate under the law. And this mandate requires us to engage with them. We also have to strengthen our public diplomacy. Right now, there are some sectors targeting us, calling us communists, and whether you like it or not, there are some people who get swayed by these things. And these kinds of things can sway policymakers as well, especially during election time. We need to pass legislation to improve certain policies, like the Balik Scientist program which doesn’t allow dual citizens. We really need to engage the national government.
PC: How do you plan to address red-tagging?
Jimenez: Red-tagging is not innocent. It is targeted. Funded yun. Everyone’s blogging. Why can’t we do our own blog? But this time, factual, very clear communications, targeted, better-explained. So we have to come out in public as something different. Public diplomacy is communication. Do you think na hindi kaya ng Collegian talunin yung mga yun? Or UP, with all our resources and research—that is why I want to strengthen TVUP to be like the BBC.
Along with a strong public diplomacy, UP needs to exercise humility, too. Kailangan magpakumbaba tayo, because we serve the people. When you say serve the people, do not expect the people to agree with you all the time. And many times, they will disagree with you. But that’s still part of the service.
PC: Among the five other nominees, who will you pick to be the next UP president?
Jimenez: But I would go for Fidel Nemenzo. I know him, and he has a record. His weaknesses are known as well, strengths are known. You can maximize your strength and try to minimize the weaknesses by supporting. You have to support the winner, whoever they may be. ●
Feb 10, 2024
Wala akong hangad na angkinin ang oras mo. Bakit ko naman gagawin iyon, kung sa mga kwento mo tungkol sa iyong pagkilos ay nakikita kitang masaya, nabubuhayan ng loob na magpatuloy at magpakahusay.
Feb 10, 2024
Bago maiahon ni Jimenez sa nais na katanyagan ang UP, esensyal na masigurong nakalapat muna ang kanyang pamumuno sa pagtugon sa kagyat na kahingian ng mga sektor ng pamantasan.