Emphasized by the recognition the University has received this academic year, DLSU has been branded as a frontrunner private research university in the Philippines and is among the top universities in Asia and worldwide according to the Times Higher Education Rankings.
In an effort to update the Lasallian community of DLSU’s continuous efforts in this transition to become a research-centered institution, the talk titled Third Conversations on the Transformation of DLSU into a Research University was held on the last day of the DLSU Research Congress, June 21, at The Verdure, fifth floor of Henry Sy Sr. Hall.
Discussing the key questions
The session opened with Dr. Feorillo Demeterio III, University Research Coordination Office (URCO) Director, who focused on answering the queries brought about by the University’s commitment to make research a central part of its mission. Demeterio revealed that the transition period officially started in 2011, citing the University’s decision to commit itself to the Vision-Mission statement which was updated that year, stating that DLSU is supposed to be a “learned-centered research university”.
However, the progress was not the sole focus of the discussion. Demeterio also highlighted the challenges the University administration faced and continues to face in completing the ongoing transition. Among those mentioned included DLSU being a private university, it belonging to a third world country, the University’s massive size and population, the absence of a Philippine model of a private research university that can be adopted, and the nature of the “transformation” being “too vast” that it cannot be accomplished and handled by a sole administrator.
“Finances are a problem. A lot of the problems are logistical in a sense, but we know what we need to do,” assured Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Dr. Raymond Girard Tan.
Projecting the completion of the transitioning in 2021, the URCO Director claimed that when DLSU celebrates its 50th anniversary of being a university in 2025, it can as well start to “transform into a robust research university”.
From the stakeholders
The transition can go on without being hindered, but the administration opted to conduct a study to note the University’s stakeholders’ understanding of the matter, as disclosed by Dr. Madelene Sta. Maria from the Psychology Department who spearheaded the study.
When asked what contributed to the progress of DLSU, responses from University Fellows and Research Directors varied from the increased awareness of support for the publication of quality research outputs; to the accessibility of facilities and equipment for research; to the promotion of interdisciplinary research collaborations.
Meanwhile, graduate student participants in the study and professors from the College of Science, Gokongwei College of Engineering, and College of Computer Studies assessed the same question and mentioned that the mentoring and support received by junior faculty members enabled them to fulfill the three functions of teaching, research, and extension; as well as the available funding for research enabling the production of researches with an impact.
Representing the academe, Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Merlin Suarez presented that the University is targeting to be both learner-centered and research-centered. Suarez said that this shall be done by personalizing learning and knowledge creation to suit the students’ needs.
“It is a necessity because as good teachers, we have to be where our students are; kids now need to learn through an experiential manner. We need to think of how to do this, [and the] administration has been thinking of ways,” she stated.
This sentiment was supported by Sta. Maria’s statement, which emphasized on the training being given to students, “ We train students to look at problems in a more efficient way, to become efficient problem solvers—not only to write papers.” Referring to students, she also said, “You have the efficiency of what a reseacher’s mind can give you. You have the skill to understand what can be improved.”
Given the ongoing project’s timeline, Tan uncovered the University’s plans for the years ahead, which lead up to the 50th year of De La Salle being a university.
Tan, in behalf of the administration, targeted that DLSU be a research university of regional standing by 2025, be a strong contributor to national development through research, have a thriving research culture among Lasallians, calibrate research components being integrated into the curriculum, and develop “fiscally robust” research and development models.
The VCRI went on to “deconstruct” the Vision-Mission statement of the University, and underscored the phrases relating to DLSU being “a leading university, a learner-centered institution; a research university; being attuned to a sustainable Earth; and being in service of the Church and society, especially the poor and the marginalized.”
A presentation from Dr. Gerardo Largoza, Strategic Management and Quality Assurance Office Executive Director, which summarized the points discussed throughout the discussion, was shared to the audience, before closing the session with an open forum.