Latest News List AdZU President State of the University Address: Rise to the Challenge of Change! Fr Pres exhorts the AdZU community

Let us Rise to the Challenge of Change! AdZU President Fr Karel San Juan, SJ, exhorted the AdZU community, in his version of the SONA – the President’s report – at the General Convocation held July 6, 2018, at a local hotel, this city.

The Exhortation was made as a response to “Extraordinary Changes in the Educational System” which he identified in his State of the University Address to the community. He related how in the past few years the University faced these challenges by “Adapting to Change” and how it has managed to be “Thriving in Transition”. As its way of proceeding, Fr President stressed the need for the University in “Strengthening its Fundamentals,” alluding to stock market parlance of analyzing data and trends to determine stock value. Changes in Education, Adapting to Change, Thriving in Transition, and Strengthening fundamentals - these were the four compelling points raised by Fr President in his report to the Ateneo community at the Convocation.

Held annually at the start of the academic year, the convocation formed the second part of a whole day institutional activity, with a recollection in the morning facilitated by a newly-ordained Jesuit Fr Jereme Asunto, SJ, who served as a scholastic in the AdZU Junior High School in 2012-2014.


Extraordinary changes in educational system

Fr President reported that in the past years, the University faced numerous challenges in the educational system which continue to beset many schools in the country, AdZU included. One major change was the transition to the K-12 curriculum. He related how AdZU faced it head-on with the opening of the Senior High School, the implementation of the new college curriculum, assigning and retooling new personnel, at the same time retaining seasoned employees, yet still managing to increase enrollment to fill in the vacuum created with the introduction of Grades 11 and 12.

Another major challenge that confronted AdZU was the ascent of a more competitive public education system, with RA 10931 taking effect, “promoting universal access to quality tertiary education by providing free tuition and other school fees in state universities and colleges”. However, he pointed out how AdZU took it all in stride, turning out a good number in enrollment, and exceeding a major of projected enrollment figures.

AdZU adapting to change

What exactly did AdZU do to adapt to changes? Fr President reported that the total enrollment is one evidence. Figures speak for themselves, specifically, the case of the Senior High School where there has been an increase in the Grade 11 student population from almost a thousand in its first year in 2016 to over a thousand in the last two years. This, AdZU managed to achieve thru, among other strategies, vigorous recruitment on the front, at the same time, behind the scene - continuous retooling of faculty to provide appropriate learning to 21st century learners. The faculty underwent further training on the K-12 curriculum and the new college general and core curriculum. Add to this was the judicious management of faculty turnover with the strengthening of systems, structures and community spirit. He then commended the faculty, describing them as, “Ready, Retooling and Resilient”.

AdZU has also unceasingly advocated the cause of private schools, Fr President pointed out. On the premise of its complementarity role to the public educational system, AdZU, has made its voice heard in issues involving the private education sector, notably the allocation of public funds for private education thru the Educational Service Contracting (ESC), the Department of Education (DepEd) SHS vouchers, and soon, the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for Higher Education.

AdZU thriving in transition

Standing tall amidst the challenges posed by these changes, AdZU remains committed, Fr President reported, to excellence in its instruction. He cited the consistent excellent performance in licensure examinations for Certified Public Accountants, nurses, lawyers, engineers, physicians and psychometricians; the numerous institutional accreditations, and awards of quality assurance from respectable organizations such as the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) which has granted Level III accreditation status to AdZU’s various programs, including the Accountancy, Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Education and the Grade School and Junior High Sschool.

The University also strives to respond to the needs of the country’s industry through innovative academic programs. He cited the BS Biomedical Engineering program, and the Ateneo Center for Culture and Arts’ Sugpat Adolescent Development and Participation Program. The BSBME, the first and only in the country, is AdZU’s response to the challenge in the delivery of healthcare services in the city and the Zamboanga Peninsula, while Sugpat is an innovative program for out-of-school youth in the city.

One of the concrete proofs of AdZU’s continuing upturn is the building boom in its Salvador campus, as it strives to Rebuild Back Better in line with its #RISE Fund campaign. He then showed photos of the renovated Gonzaga hall, the retrofitted Sauras Hall, including the newly inaugurated Tienda Atenista, the ongoing construction of the SHS building and Physical Facilities Gym. He reminded the community that all these validate the University’s efforts at rebuilding and continuing to rise to the challenge of change.

AdZU strengthening our fundamentals

Finally, in describing the inner drive that keeps the University going, or what he referred to as the “day-to-day quiet commitment to life and work,” Fr President presented the Fundamentals of the University, as its “way of proceeding,” - Service, System and Sprit - and the need to strengthen them.

“It is the most natural thing to do for AdZU,” Fr President said in describing the University’s Spirit of Service, imbedded in its System. “It is our automatic response, our impulse to serve and engage the poor and society,” he stated. The reach of AdZU’s service is extended to the region and beyond, he said, with special attention to those in the peripheries. This, he pointed out, has left an indelible impact on the communities, as attested by the leadership role attributed to the University in the area of community service – in the person of “our teachers, doctors, medical students, scholars, entrepreneurs and development workers”.

In the field of education, Fr President stated, the AdZU stands out as a leading institution, with its faculty assisting other schools prepare to be K-12 ready, by serving as trainors on the K-12 curriculum and the new general education curriculum for college. Making Ateneo education accessible is also another way by which the University reaches out to the community. He reported that scholars have comprised half of the student population for the last few years.

Another area to develop as part of its fundamentals, he said, is the University’s administrative strength or System, via policies, guidelines, strategic plans, analytics, including improvement of employee benefits and greater Jesuit presence and at the same time increased lay collaboration in the University’s Board of Trustees and administration.

Finally, on Spirit, he highlighted the role of formation in establishing and strengthening its identity and mission. The Ateneo Spirit, Fr President stated, is evident in community gatherings such as Eucharistic celebrations, Christmas festivities and other avenues where the entire University converges to celebrate oneness as a community such as the Ateneo Fiesta. He also pointed out the need to deepen the University’s formation program by taking into account complex realities.

The Ateneo’s record of academic excellence, Fr President attributed, not only as a result of effective instruction but also to the holistic formation inherent in Jesuit Education. He reminded the Community of how Cura Personalis  is key to this success, citing the years of dedicated service of almost 200 employees who will be honored at the Service Awards program at the end of this month. To end his University Address, he urged the community to continue to embody this core value, to continually Inspire, be Passionate, and to enflesh the Animo Ateneo.

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