Who sits next in the WMSU President’s chair?

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 22 July) – Five gentlemen and three ladies are vying for the presidency of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), and they just have been done last week with the stages from nomination, selection, and screening, to finally reach the stage when all they have to do is wait on the Board of Regents to finally decide on who the choice is.

WMSU students during a parade. Photo from the WMSU Facebook page.

There is a two-week period, they say, before the next WMSU President is named from among eight contenders. That waiting period ends next week.

Republic Act No. 8292

Republic Act No. 8292 or the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997 provides for the “uniform composition and powers of the governing boards, the manner of appointment and term of office of the President of chartered state universities and colleges.”

Section 3 tells the Filipino public who composes the members of the Board of Regents: the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as Chairman, the President of the University as Vice Chairman, the Chairmen of the (Senate and) Congressional Committees on Education and Culture, Regional Director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the president of the faculty association, the president of the supreme student council, the president of the alumni association, and two prominent citizens in the city.

Currently, the WMSU Board of Regents is composed of Dr. Perfecto Alibin of CHED; Dr. Teresita Narvaez, who acts as Officer-in-Charge of the President’s Office; Sen. Joel Villanueva, represented by Dr. Roberto Torres; Rep. Mark Go, represented by Celso Lobregat; WMSU Alumni President Ramon Ochotorena; WMSU Faculty President Al-Ghani Mohammad; Student Council President Damhar Pahalawan; private sector representatives Edwin Caliolio (president, Southern City Colleges) and Inocente Locson (president of the Zamboanga City Bankers and Financiers Association); NEDA Director Phlorita Ridao; and DOST Director Martin Wee.

Vested with Power

In a phone interview with Dr. Grace Jimeno-Rebollos, former WMSU President, she stated that the Office of the University President is “vested with much power” that the selection must be a careful process that the chosen person has “integrity, honesty, and honorable and academic excellence.”

“The naming of the President is a function that is in the hands of the Board of Regents who could be accountable should the selected President not be the ‘qualified candidate’ as screened prior to the announcement of his or her appointment,” Dr. Rebollos said.

In 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a check of the 2020 General Appropriations Act in the amount of P73.7 billion for state universities and colleges (SUCs). The Department of Budget and Management then announced that among the SUCs, the University of the Philippines got the largest allocation of P18.6 billion, while WMSU got P635,135,000 from taxpayers’ money.

“In the hands of the WMSU President is the proper, or improper, handling of taxpayers’ money and the Board of Regents is accountable to their choice if it is just for personal relationships and not for professional and objective considerations,” Dr. Rebollos emphasized.

Leadership Values

The WMSU President, being head of a state-owned university, is thus expected to hold the following responsible leadership values: integrity, honesty, and honorable academic excellence, said Dr. Rebollos, citing as well the call of other members of the academe that is directed towards the Board of Regents to make a wise conscience-based decision.

Integrity, honesty, and honorable academic excellence. It is presumed that the eight candidates have such.

The Screening Committee has accordingly scrutinized the eight candidates in the past weeks, reviewed their documents constituting their academic records, professional profiles and academic experiences.

Dr. Marilou C. Elago. Dr. Joselito D. Madroñal. Dr. Jonathan Niño Nayga. Dr. Ma. Carla A. Ochotorena. Dr. Edgardo H. Rosales. Dr. Roberto M. Sala. Dr. Rizalinda A. Salapuddin. Dr. Adrian P. Semorlan. One of these academics would soon sit as President of the 116-year-old state university in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Eight Candidates

The information on their individual background have been taken from the profiles released by the Screening Committee via social media.

Dr. Marilou Elago, a nurse, 57 years of age, married, presently Professor V and has been OIC-Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics since 2014, envisions WMSU to continue being the University of choice. She holds a Biology degree from Xavier University, a doctor of medicine graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and has a doctorate degree in education from WMSU. Her chief goal is to “position the University as a Center of Excellence in the entire Philippines, a provider of globally competitive manpower requirements in the region, a technical partner of Government-Private business-Civil Society-Academic entities in research, and projects, with funds from self-generated revenue, assistance and grants.”

Dr. Ma. Carla Ochotorena, 58 years old, currently Professor V and has been Vice President for Academic Affairs since 2014, holds a degree in nursing from WMSU, a master’s degree in public administration from Misamis University, and a degree in Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Governance from the University of the Visayas. Her goals are to “provide academic programs, services and learning environment that will serve as an avenue that will effectively produce world-class graduates who are ready to meet the challenges of industry; promote innovative research and development system necessary to meet the globalization of technology and disseminate relevant knowledge to the community; provide accessible and customer-focused administrative system which will provide partnerships and establish linkages with students, faculty, alumni and other stakeholders; increase financial capability to be more self-sufficient through partnership and collaboration with business sectors and other income-generating programs and projects; and involve in community development services that are demand-driven to promote the general well-being and uplift the social and economic conditions of people in the community.”

Dr. Edgardo Rosales, being Associate Professor V, is currently the Director of External Linkages and International Relations. Flagging the acrostic RESILIENT, he presents his goals as: Research and industry-based curriculum, Extension and community services for the people, Strengthened sports, cultural and international linkages, Improved income-generating projects and improved profitable ventures, Levelled up university, Infrastructure development and upgraded digital student services, Neutrality and good governance, and Teaching and non-teaching promotions, rewards and incentives.

Dr. Rizalinda Salapuddin, 53 years old, married, is the only Muslim among the candidates, but with the Rank of Professor II, she is currently Dean of the School of Business Administration of Sulu State College (SSC). She presently resides at Indanan, Sulu. Herself a WMSU alumna as she completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing, but her master’s and doctorate degree at SSC. Dr. Salapuddin’s vision for WMSU, among others, is for the university “to be the Center of Excellence in Region IX producing globally competitive graduates and as institutional stewards in the development of the program.”

Dr. Joselito Madroñal is currently the Vice President for Administration and Finance, single, and 55 years old. He holds two bachelor’s degrees: Commerce, major in Accounting, as well as in Nursing; and a doctorate degree in Public Administration.

He shares his five-fold goal in Instruction, Administration, Research, Extension and Resource Generation, which he hopes would be the state of WMSU in the next four years. Among others, under Instruction, Dr. Madroñal specifically aims to “maintain a high passing rate in the board or licensure examination according to the standards set by the Commission in Higher Education by implementing pre-board scheme, strengthening the Center of Continuing Education Review Service to be at par with prestigious review centers in the country and providing incentive to the performing colleges.” He aims to “deliver an innovative instruction to meet the evolving needs of the students and exhilarate their opportunities in the digital world by shifting from traditional facilities to the recent advances in instructional technology.” Under Research, he pushes to “engage in collaborations/partnerships and outsourced funding across sectors in addressing societal problems through research, thereby establishing significance in the country and the world.”

Dr. Roberto Sala, currently Professor IV and has been Dean of the College of Engineering since 2014, is a mechanical engineer with a masters on environmental engineering, both degrees he earned from WMSU; and a doctor’s degree in engineering which he acquired from Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology. Dr. Sala’s goals are summed up in a Road Map that he designed with his proposed 10-point agenda: (1) Introduction/Improvement of Facilities Development; (2) Enhancing curriculum programs; (3) Enhancing research for development; (4) Enhancing research Extension and linkages; (5) School governance and resource generation; (6) Human Resource development; (7) Welfare for the faculty and staff; (8) Welfare for the students; (9) Alumni relations; and (10) Action Recognition Campaign.

Dr. Jonathan Niño Nayga, 50 years old, married, is the only candidate who hails from northern Philippines. With a rank of Professor VI, he has the highest academic rank among the candidates. He is currently the Director of Cagayan Valley Small Ruminant Research Center of the Isabela State University. Dr. Nayga, a scientist, holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Science, a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science, and a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture. He has been awarded Best in R&D Management Paper by the Philippine Association for Research Managers.

Dr. Adrian Semorlan at 44 is the youngest among the candidates, and with a rank of Associate Professor V, he has been the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts since 2014. He is a Doctor of Education, major in Educational Management, as well as a Master of Public Administration from Universidad de Zamboanga, a Master of Health Social Science from De La Salle University-Manila, and a Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology degree holder from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños. He has completed as well all academic requirements (CAR) to be a Doctor in Public Administration. He was part of the Advanced Leadership Education Program in the Philippine Higher Education Career System – Executive Development Program (PHiLHECS-EDP) of the CHED-PASUC-DAP.

Dr. Semorlan envisions the University to “be the leading educational institution towards global social transformation through linkages, partnerships, and collaborations that embody significance in innovation, responsiveness and positive transformative impact on humanistic, environmental, socio-cultural, economic, scientific and creative endeavors for the country in the world.”

All the candidates now await the decision of the Board of Regents. As to who would be the person to sit in the WMSU President’s chair, the Filipino people will soon be informed. (Frencie L. Carreon / MindaNews)