The UPLB Alumni Association jointly with the Office of Alumni Relations hosted a testimonial lunch in honor of outgoing chancellor Dr. Luis Rey I. Velasco and incoming chancellor Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz on Oct. 26 at the Alumni Center. The event, entitled "TEAM in ONE: Taking UPLB to Greater Heights," also served as an informal turnover ceremony between the two administrators.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Mimosa C. Ocampo, OAR director, explained that the title of the program was lifted from the respective slogans of Chancellors Velasco and Cruz, which is "TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More)" and "One Goal, One Destiny, One University," respectively. She thanked Chancellor Velasco for six years of dedicated service and leadership and gave a warm welcome to Chancellor Cruz who will officially assume office in November.
Chancellor Velasco delivered a message after an AVP highlighting his contributions, accomplishments, and legacy to the University was shown. He said that the event should not be about him but rather for the incoming chancellor. According to Chancellor Velasco, he really enjoyed the last six years of being chancellor but it is not because of the power and authority that comes with it but rather "the opportunity of being able to work together towards a common goal for the University." He also cherishes the friendships that he developed with his colleagues and staff.
He shared that one of the biggest challenges when he first assumed office was how to effectively manage people who are older than him. Even though his colleagues are a good 5 to 10 years older than him, he was able to work well with all of them, he said.
Chancellor Velasco also said that he felt fortunate that President Emerlinda R. Roman, a UPLB alumna, was sympathetic to the causes of UPLB and this made his job easier. He also took the opportunity to thank former Chancellors Emil Q. Javier and Ruben L. Villareal for their continued support to his administration, the former for his constant insightful advice and the latter for helping make UPLB constituents more involved in Gawad Kalinga. As a parting word, he wished Chancellor Cruz the best as he prepares to assume office.
It was Chancellor Cruz's turn to deliver his message after an AVP about his professional career was shown. According to him, he feels that he does not deserve a testimonial lunch in his honor just yet, and that the occasion is more appropriate to honor the outgoing chancellor. He also noted that Chancellor Velasco has made the entry of the next administration much easier.
According to Chancellor Cruz, he thought that being a Dean of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources was the pinnacle of his career. He also admitted that he initially dreaded the notion of running for chancellor when it was first floated during a meeting with the council of deans. Despite his apprehensions, however, the council of deans and his supporters eventually prevailed over him.
His initial reaction after being proclaimed as the 8th chancellor of UPLB was that he "could not imagine how big this responsibility is going to be."
Chancellor Cruz said that his administration will not fail to solicit the support of past chancellors, notably Chancellor Velasco. "We will continue to depend on his many inputs to guide us," he said.
Having overcome the "dreadful thoughts of being chancellor," Chancellor Cruz said he is now buoyed by lots of faith that "things will fall in the right places." Even as he is savoring his victory, he said that he is fully aware of the challenges that the University has to face.
Chancellor Cruz expressed hope that University alumni will continue to be present to lend their support to the various initiatives of the University. He also expects to get some help from the outgoing vice chancellors to ensure the continuity and completion of ongoing projects as well as the council of deans which he hopes will continue to be a functional and supportive body to the new administration. In the next three years or so, Chancellor Cruz said that he expects that they will all help him pursue transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs in research and instruction.
In closing, Chancellor Cruz reminded everyone that the event is an occasion of looking back and paying tribute to Chancellor Velasco and his administration, who were able to accomplish significant gains during the past six years despite limited resources and various constraints. He also bid farewell to the outgoing chancellor and wished him all the best in his endeavors.
UPLB Alumni Association President Simeon A. Cuyson, who gave the closing remarks to end the program, said that it seems to be more than coincidence that the Chancellors Velasco and Cruz both come from the same Class 1978 and that the new UPLB chancellor is a forester - the first in history - at a time when the world is celebrating the International Year of Forests. "Perhaps it is really Chancellor Cruz's destiny to become UPLB chancellor," he said. (MJC de Roma, Office of Public Relations)
Photo courtesy of OPR