UP President Angelo Jimenez appears to be inclined to retain the opaque selection process of UP chancellors, adding that secrecy was the norm inside the UP Board of Regents (BOR) even during his time as a student regent in 1992.
The exchange inside the boardroom came after the idea of revising the chancellor selection process was brought up by the UP Diliman (UPD) University Council (UC) in a BOR meeting in May.
Jimenez’s defense of the long-contested tradition of secrecy in the appointment of various UP officials was discussed in the BOR’s 1381st meeting last May 25, whose minutes were just released this month. He emphasized that the closed-door nature of the voting process is essential for the regents.
“He [Jimenez] opined that the Board of Regents opt for executive sessions and secret balloting to allow the Regents to vote in accordance with their personal conscience and integrity, and to safeguard them from various political pressures,” read part of the minutes.
The discussion inside the board ensued after the UC presented its statement on democratic governance during the meeting, which called on the regents to ensure transparency in the appointment of university officials.
The UC is the highest academic body of UPD, which consists of all assistant, associate, and full professors. It is chaired by the chancellor.
The UC’s statement came following the selection of Law Dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan as the UP Diliman chancellor last April 3. Following the announcement of Vistan’s appointment, numerous demands to publicize the vote immediately reverberated through Quezon Hall as swarms of students expressed their dissent.
“[A]ctivities during the search process aim to foster active participation among the constituents. Releasing the highlights of the search process would further encourage participation and enable the community to witness the outcomes of the activities in which they have taken part,” Faculty Regent Carl Marc Ramota told the board.
Several professor emeriti and faculty also expressed in a scathing open letter their protest over the controversial UPD chancellor selection. In the letter, the signatories urged Jimenez to make the search committee report accessible, and for the regents to explain their reasons behind picking Vistan. The president hasn’t responded to those calls yet.
Problems regarding secrecy are not exclusive to the voting, but to the search process as well. Staff Regent Victoria Belegal noted that during the chancellor selection in Diliman, changes in the timetable of the search process were done without the knowledge of the BOR.
Jimenez said that the search committee was made to assist the selection of university officials and they do not have the final say as to who becomes elected.
“[T]heir [search committee] recommendations are not intended to bind the Board,” read part of the minutes.
The UP Diliman chancellor search committee consisted of representatives from the faculty, administrative staff, REPS, and student sectors. The members of the panel are nominated by the sectors and appointed by the president who, himself, has a representative in the committee.
Questions of transparency in the appointment of top UP officials have once again resurfaced as the BOR is poised to pick three chancellors in October. The search process for the next chancellors of UP Los Baños (UPLB), UP Manila (UPM), and UP Visayas (UPV) is already in full swing.
UPM has two nominees vying for the chancellorship, namely Dr. Rolando Enrique Domingo and Dr. Michael Tee. UPV Chancellor Clement Camposano, meanwhile, is seeking a second term, with Mary Ann Gumban as his challenger. In UPLB, incumbent Chancellor Jose Camacho is the sole nominee.
The BOR will select the three chancellors in its meeting on October 5, according to the Office of the Faculty Regent. ●
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