By Mariamme D. Jadloc, images by Leonardo A. Reyes
(JUN.4)—“I would like to see the Asian Center as the initiator and challenger of the 21st century in providing higher education in the field of Asian and Philippine studies,” said Prof. Joefe Santarita, the Asian Center’s (AC) newly-appointed dean, at his affirmation rites on May 25 at the GT-Toyota Asian Cultural Auditorium.
An associate professor at the AC, Santarita’s areas of specialization are in Indian studies, migration studies, Philippine culture and society, maritime history and Southeast Asian political economy. He holds a Ph.D. in South Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore, an MA in Asian Studies (Southeast Asia) from AC and BA in History-Community Development from UP Visayas.
He outlined his plans for AC in an 8-point agenda: improve faculty profile; support students in international conferences; empower non-teaching staff; provision of sufficient budget and resource generation activities; development of curricula at par with international standards; development of soft and hard facilities; hybrid classes; and creation of the position Assistant to the Dean for Public Affairs.
“The administration will continue its efforts in improving the faculty profile by recruiting experts in all geo-cultural zones of Asia that include Central Asia and the Pacific Islands,” Santarita said.
The Dean was appointed on May 1 and will serve his term until Apr. 30, 2018. He said the faculty should be “continuously provided with support including research, travel, adequate teaching technology, adequate staff assistants and funds.”
AC students must also be encouraged to participate in various international conferences and academic gatherings and be assisted in publishing their seminal papers in international publications and especially the “Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia” he said.
Underscoring the importance of AC’s non-teaching staff, he plans to empower them through skills upgrading seminars, by “offering incentives to deserving employees and providing team building activities.”
In his first 100 days in office, he hopes his request to fill staff positions be granted as this would translate to more “productive and efficient delivery of service to all sectors of the AC constituency.”
He also hopes to create the position Assistant to the Dean for Public Affairs to take care of extension, alumni affairs, facility administration and resource generation activities.
To make the AC curricula at par with international standards, he seeks to continue the ongoing revision of the master’s program for Asian and Philippine Studies and “pursue the institution of a doctoral degree in Asia Studies.”
“It is also necessary to continuously support the ongoing review on curriculum development and administrative structure of the tri-college Ph.D. Philippine Studies program,” he said.
In addition, Santarita hopes to see AC offering hybrid classes, “a combination of classroom and distance teleconference classes.
As part of the activity, Santarita introduced Prof. Rolando Talampas and Dr. Ma. Cecilia T. Medina as AC’s college secretary and tri-college coordinator, respectively.
Santarita’s affirmation marked the first time that the ceremony was held in a dean’s mother unit. Previous affirmations were held at the Office of the Chancellor, witnessed by a few university officials, the dean’s family and some college constituents.
Chancellor Michael L. Tan said upon Santarita’s selection, he thought of holding the said ceremony as UP Diliman needed “to have rituals” because as an anthropologist, Tan believes transitions must be observed.
“People don’t know when there are transitions in UPD. It is very important not just for recognition but also for continuity of traditions, continuity of principles,” Tan said.
Present at the affirmation were University officials including UP Staff Regent Anna Razel L. Ramirez, UPD Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Neil Martial R. Santillan, deans of UPD and other UP constituent units and the AC faculty, staff, alumni and students.