Strategic Vision 2018

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Delivered by former UA&P President Jose Maria Mariano, PhD on 16 June 2010
The task that the University Board of Trustees and the University Management Committee have set for me to accomplish this morning is to outline for you, in broad strokes, our vision of the University of Asia and the Pacific for the year 2018.

We now face, at the start of this academic year 2010-2011, a new eight-year period in our history. Our efforts throughout the year just over—many thanks to the active collaboration of key persons in the University to refine and to mold and hammer in place the many inputs to our 2010-2018 strategic plan—all these efforts have given us a blueprint of UA&P for 2018 that I shall now proceed to describe.

MISSION
1. We wish to remain faithful to the mission that the founders of the University of Asia and the Pacific committed to in 1994-1995.  At the same time, among the many principles articulated by the founders of the University, and as a way to focus our efforts during the period 2010-2018, we wish to highlight our commitment to contribute as a university to the integral human development of the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region.

VISION

2. Firmly grounded on this mission, we envision ourselves as a university that, by 2018, will have achieved recognition in the Asia-Pacific region as a prestigious research and teaching institution that attracts top faculty, staff, and students, and actively engages in partnerships with the public and private sector.  We are, in other words, proposing a vision with three strategic themes.

  • First, we re-affirm the specific strategy adopted by the University’s founders of identifying and developing areas of learning and education not already served extensively and excellently by others.  We shall attract top faculty, staff, and students who are ready and willing to contribute to this effort.  By 2018, we shall be seeing an annual intake of 600 freshmen with high school averages of at least 85%, the best professors eager to teach them, and a highly trained and motivated staff to run the University.  We will, by 2018, have achieved the following ratios: Masters to PhD at 50:50, student to teacher at 11:1, and faculty to staff at 2:1.
  • Second, our deeply Christian and at the same time firmly secular approach pushes us always to look for solutions to the problems besetting contemporary society, which promote the dignity of the human person in all circumstances.  Without claiming to exhaust the wealth contained in the phrase “integral human development”, we single out three features that have a special significance for our institution—unity of knowledge, unity of life, and the rediscovery of the meaning of ordinary work.  We believe that by imprinting these features on all our instruction and research, we can create a new and immensely effective curiosity about the faith and the light it sheds on all social realities, and thereby attract many partners in the private and public sector who can collaborate with us in achieving our purpose.  We propose for ourselves this goal: by 2018, each academic unit of the University shall have at least one local and one international educational partnership program that are aligned to, and will support, its research, extension and development agenda.
  • And by “Asia-Pacific”, we refer to the region that is named in our seal—Asia and the Pacific—towards which we direct our universal outlook and our desire to be recognized as a key player among its institutions of learning.  Our goal is that by 2018, we shall be ranked among the top 100 Asian universities in the QS international ranking scheme.

STRATEGY

To achieve these goals, we shall adopt the following seven strategies.

3. We shall maintain our firm grounding in the tradition and arts of learning in liberal education and the humanities.  Our College of Arts and Sciences shall continue to be the intellectual gateway to the professional schools, and our graduates shall be known, not only for being well-rounded professionals with broad humanistic learning, but also for being individuals who have acquired what the liberal arts alone can give–they would have learned how to learn.  But to give our liberal education the edge it should have, we need to achieve a truly seamless articulation between our core curriculum and the professional specializations, in both the five-year masters program and in the four-year bachelor’s degree programs that we have just put in place.  To this end too we shall ensure that all our faculty members will continue to have access to the broader horizons of the liberal arts and the humanities, in addition to higher-order training in their respective fields.

4. We want our program offerings to continue to signify real contributions to the professions.  Our institution has from the start enjoyed a modest reputation for being innovative—witness our programs in business economics, information technology, entrepreneurial management, political economy, integrated marketing communications, even, in the field of practical pedagogy, our straight five-year program.  These are programs that have blazed trails, not for the sake of novelty alone, but because we have always tried to identify and develop areas of learning and education not already served extensively and excellently by others.  We are committed to continually updating our current program offerings and content according to the needs of the communities we serve.  Moreover, we shall identify fields in our course offerings where professorial appointments and chairs are crucial to our mission.  In addition to the new program we began this school year in applied mathematics, and the courses in management science and engineering and in human capital development that shall begin to receive students in the next admissions season, we are at work on developing within the next eight years, as degree program offerings, trail-blazers in areas such as media and entertainment, human biology, business intelligence, advanced executive education, including doctoral programs in business economics and in educational philosophy and leadership.  And though we do not envision higher degree program offerings in psychology and sociology in the next eight years, we shall aim to develop research expertise in these and related areas that will allow us to inject into them the Christian dimension they lack.

UA&P graduates wear the ‘beca’, a traditional academic garb in Europe.

5. Diversifying our program offerings will make UA&P a more attractive option to many more bright students.  To be a university of choice for the top students, we shall continue to commit resources so that 20 percent of our student population will enjoy study grants—that is, about 500 of our future 2500 undergraduate population will eventually be grantees with higher than 85% calibrated high school average.   About 250 of these 500 grantees will be merit scholars with higher than 90% calibrated high school average.  At least a third of these, conservatively—about 80—should eventually graduate with honors, and another 25%—about 5 honor scholars every year—will finish the masters and be attracted to stay to teach in our undergraduate programs. It is not the numbers that are important but the resulting brand image of excellent students—i.e., intelligent, highly motivated, and from a wide spectrum of socio-economic classes—and excellent academic content and methodology, that will draw more bright students and drive our standards upwards.

6. To handle more bright students, we shall need more bright faculty and staff members.  We shall establish personnel development programs that will attract and retain our best faculty and staff.  We are aware that the most ambitious compensation scheme the University can muster will never be able to compete with what industry offers.  So we shall simply cease to compete with industry.  Instead, we shall partner with industry by encouraging, developing, strengthening, and then deploying the consultancy capabilities of our faculty and staff.  Not only would this answer, at least in part, the financial needs of our faculty and staff, it will also benefit UA&P’s brand as a hub of experts who are driven, not only by the desire to ease the burdens weighing down the communities in which we work, but also by the University’s mission to humanize society.

But beyond productivity results and project surplus is the simple realization that our institution, given what it professes in its Credo, should not only demand results but, more importantly, consciously and proactively develop talent.  Aside from making accessible the usual array of conferences and study fellowships, we shall do this by encouraging the development of personal and professional competencies through one-on-one mentoring.  We have just completed an experimental edition of a Guide for Mentors that establishes student mentoring on firmer pedagogical principles.  We are set to work on putting in place a scheme for the mentoring of the faculty and staff similar to what we have set up for student mentoring.  We are confident that this mentoring scheme will achieve three things: (a) develop the talent and career of our people that will make them more “employable”, independently of any consideration for retaining them in the institution, (b) help our people discover a deep and genuine commitment to our institutional mission, enough to build ties that go beyond any consideration of extrinsic returns, and (c) create a common vocabulary for mentoring that will reflect an institutional commitment to a culture of mentoring as an integral element of the UA&P identity.

7. Our vision for UA&P is of a university that is inseparably part of mainstream society, that wrestles with the concrete questions that everyone asks, that works hand-in-hand with others who also want to see things go better—with the alumni, with local high schools and universities, with industry, local government units, non-profit organizations, with embassies and international agencies.  We shall continue to build on our many existing agreements with universities in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, and a few others in the Asia-Pacific region such as Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam.  But among the many possibilities for partnership we encounter, we shall eventually select those that have clear strategic value.  This means applying essentially three criteria:

  •  First, we shall be on the lookout for more vital linkages by leveraging our trail-blazing expertise through consultancy research, by pursuing joint undertakings in corporate social responsibility, by soliciting industry participation in curriculum development, by systematizing reflection on and sharing our experience in mentoring, as well as by asking for corporate sponsorships to support our scholarships and professorial chairs.  We have already talked of strengthening and deploying the consultancy capabilities of our faculty, which at the same time strengthens our brand of research—rigorous, scientific, relevant and down to earth, at the same time multidisciplinary, and open to philosophical, even theological, reflection.
  • Second, we are especially interested in alumni participation for building up the alma mater by assisting graduate placement, promoting continuing education, marketing our programs and our brand of whole-person and individualized education, facilitating business-academe partnerships.  An indicator of alumni satisfaction shall be the generosity of alumni donations.
  • And, third, our partnerships shall never simply be relationships where we in the academic community bring to the solution of industry issues and needs scholarly erudition and industry reciprocates by investing first in our research, then in our other material requirements.  Our partnerships will not be transactional ventures but mission-based relationships.  We partner with people and institutions with a genuine desire to learn from them, and no less genuine desire to win them over to our cause.  We bring them to UA&P because we want to give them the opportunity to experience, assimilate, identify with, and then spread the positive and universal spirit of the University.  Thus too we shall contribute to the integral human development of the peoples in the region.

8. Our university centers shall play a lead role in forging partnerships with the public and private sector.  At the same time, through the university centers, we shall reinforce the imprint of the UA&P hallmarks on all our academic and formative activities.

The Center for Students and Alumni (CSA) will make UA&P a center for cultural, civic, and sports development activities, not only for UA&P students, but also for the community in which the University operates. Through its diverse activities, most of which are student-run, CSA will showcase the UA&P hallmark of values education.

  •  The Center for Social Responsibility (CSR) will promote the UA&P hallmark of people development. It will be known in the Asia-Pacific region as a leading force in corporate social responsibility research and education. CSR will be the nerve center of all social responsibility efforts of the University, while serving as a strategic partner of other organizations, public and private, in their pursuit of the common good.
  •  Following agreements recently forged by the governing bodies of the Center for Research and Communication (CRC) and our University, we can now jointly pursue our institutional research and communications agenda, and, by CRC’s vigorous collaboration with research institutes that pursue a similar research agenda, it shall be known as the Asian counterpart of similar endeavors in the Americas and in Europe. The CRC shall represent a focus for the UA&P hallmark of research and communication, and ensure that the edge that their forty two years experience can give our research—data-gathering and incisive analysis of concrete professional issues and current social needs—will remain strong.  At the same time, we shall expand the scope that the CRC has hitherto been known for and shall pursue team effort and a multidisciplinary approach.  We shall also make sure that, while deploying the most technical expertise in solving a problem, our efforts never fail to throw light on the human condition.

“Our institution has from the start enjoyed a modest reputation for being innovative.”

9. We shall measure ourselves against world-class standards in teaching, research, and institutional administration, and obtain autonomy status from the Philippine Commission on Higher Education by 2016 or earlier.  Such a status will give us the flexibility to respond more adequately to fast-paced change in the region.  It will enable us to steer our program offerings towards the needs and expectations of the regional job market, and ultimately multiply our effectiveness in carrying out our mission throughout the region.

We understand, however, that internationalization, or at least “Asia-Pacific regionalization”, is not simply a matter of attaining world-class standards.   We shall also strive to diversify the composition of our faculty through international faculty fellowships and to lay the foundations of a cultural-educational exchange program for international students, particularly those from countries in the Asia-Pacific region.  All this will redound to a more diverse international community in our campus, and enrich the learning experience of our students.  In this connection, an English Center will be taken into consideration, as the Philippines remains among the few English-speaking Asian countries that can attract those looking for less expensive alternatives to hone their English than Europe or the United States.

Our experience in organizing the Tambuli Awards is particularly instructive for our internationalization project.  Following a decision to hold the Awards annually, it has now expanded not only in number of entries (50% up from the previous year) but also in scope, by counting among its judges communications and advertising executives from the Southeast Asian region.  We are confident that well within the next eight years, the Tambuli Awards will no longer be a local affair but a truly Asia-Pacific phenomenon.  This underscores the fact that above all internationalization means dealing with international content, with subject matter that reflects the concerns of the international community.  In terms of our direct stakeholders, internationalization means preparing our students for international citizenship and for competition in an international job market.  To equip ourselves with the relevant capabilities we shall send faculty members to postdoctoral study fellowships in prestigious institutions in the region.  Aside from international faculty programs like those offered by IESE, we shall be on the lookout for similar programs closer to home and perhaps in more direct touch with the burning questions of the Asia-Pacific region.  By 2018, more sectors in UA&P will have gained enough exposure to lead the way in “regionalizing” our teaching and research, taking care nevertheless to keep ourselves rooted in the traditions of our country and our attention focused on the concrete concerns of the community in which we operate, beginning with those in most need.

STRATEGIC ENABLERS

To support these seven strategies, five enablers were identified.

10.  First enabler: schools development.  We have just set up a new school—our School of Sciences and Engineering.  In the pipeline are a School of Law and Governance and a Business School, distinct from the School of Management, which shall offer an MBA and various Senior Executive Education Programs.  For schools both new and old, we shall need to systematize program planning, review and development, manpower planning and development, and resource planning and development.  For these internal capacity building efforts, the administrative units will be playing a major role.  The Registrar’s Office has been asked to oversee a demanding schedule of program accreditation, keeping the momentum we established recent by attaining higher accreditation levels in liberal arts, management, communication, and political economy.  Our Human Resource Management Office (HRM) will be much occupied looking for the best-qualified young professionals who can be relied on to prepare themselves for the University’s future.  The HRM Office will also work closely with the Operations Committees to get more of the faculty to complete their higher studies at the soonest possible time and for more to be granted university tenure.  Last year, five faculty members earned their PhDs and two were conferred the rank of Associate Professor.  We shall see how the momentum can increase.

11.  Second enabler: marketing communications. Through the Corporate Communications Office, we shall implement no less than an integrated marketing communications plan that will allow us to attract the top students, the top faculty and staff, and to win over a host of collaborators in our mission, both here and across the entire Asia-Pacific region.

12.  Third enabler: information technology systems. We shall implement an intensive and university-wide information technology systems plan that includes education support systems, executive support systems, and operations support systems.  More importantly, in collaboration with the University Library, our Information Technology Office (formerly MIS) shall push for education informatics resources that are firmly anchored on sound learning strategies. All faculty members shall collaborate on a web-based Academic Information Resource that will complement the push for interdisciplinary collaboration in content production.  Beginning with their course syllabi, it shall make more accessible the intellectual capital of the UA&P faculty.

13.  Fourth enabler: we need a more responsive business model.  Our student population will always remain relatively small, by choice, relative especially to the enormous amount of research, extension, and developmental activities that our 2018 vision entails.  It would be foolhardy to expect tuition revenue to cover all these activities, as we have been doing for the past five years or so.  Our Development Office shall therefore coordinate university-wide efforts that will enable us to use, throughout the period 2010-2018, an alternative business model—one that relies on diversifying fund sources through partnerships that contribute to our mission.

14. And the fifth enabler: multi-campus expansion.  We are now completing the master plan for the current campus—the Ortigas campus—that shall be the springboard for an extensive campus development plan and a blueprint for scheduling the capital expenditure projects of the University.  By 2018 we shall be ready to expand to a two-campus university, with the main campus just outside Manila, where the central administration, the College of Arts and Sciences, and most Graduate Schools are located; and the Ortigas Campus, where we shall locate the future Business School, possibly the Law School, and branch offices of the business-oriented graduate programs.

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