A decade in retrospect
For the first time in his 10th year of being the University Brother President, Br. Augustine (Gus) Boquer FSC revealed his life before the position, his past experiences in campus, his ongoing plans for the University and the students, the academe’s stance regarding national issues, and more.
Little does everyone knows, the Brother President’s journey started a long time ago, when he was once the principal of La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. Before becoming the DLSU-D President, he had already been a brother president of the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod for 9 years from 1998-2007.
“I knew from the bottom on what it is to be a teacher, what it is to be a principal, and a director. I knew from experience,” Br. Gus said as he disclosed what he learnt from his years with the Ordained Partners and the Brothers.
On the University
Recently, DLSU-D reached the 50th spot in a ranking of a network of eco-friendly universities from all over the world that consists of notable universities like University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, Harvard University, Stanford University, National University of Singapore, and Hong Kong University.
To be accepted in the network, the university must first apply before being subject to being a member. However, the Brother President disclosed that DLSU-D received the invitation even without applying.
“This is by invitation (membership) only, and that to me is an honor given to the institution that does not apply, and this is [also a] part of the honor given to you students,” he furthered.
Regarding the University’s plans in raising the current Level four PAASCU accreditation of DLSU-D, the Brother President answered, “I would like us to be, a center for excellence in all our special programs, a center for development, and I would like you all to know, the courses we have are not just Level four, but even the initial programs are already included in the initial accreditation process.”
The Brother President also mentioned that he does not only seek to advance the level of the University’s accreditation, but also wants to pursue DLSU-D’s accreditation internationally. As of the moment, he is to discuss the matter with the Vice Chancellor of Academics and Research and the administrators involved with the “research” in planning for the next step.
In pursuance of DLSU-D’s international accreditation, Br. Gus said he challenges the students to have a passion for research that will have an impact both locally and internationally.
“Our students must have the passion to look into research that is very important for getting the higher notch of the academe. A good research must not be local, but international and national in terms of obligation and presentation, and a research that will have a milestone in the province,” he said.
As a matter of fact, DLSU-D is one of the universities known for its efforts in the research field nationwide, not to mention that the University holds an annual research week that discusses various research topics and issues—such as the involvement of the Lasallian community in the global thrust for the enhancement of skills and role of research endeavor and linking research utilization and inclusive growth, to which both are DLSU-D’s research week themes in 2015 and 2017.
Facing DLSU-D’s conflicts
Throughout the years of DLSU-D, one of the major problems that the University has encountered is keeping the financial capability of the University balanced as a result of the K-12 implementation several years ago.
This implementation has since then affected most, if not all, tertiary schools in the Philippines where some schools have been forced to postpone offering Senior High School programs. Yet on the contrary, all 16 La Salle schools in the Philippines were not forced to close, “Because we prepared very well, [for] the last 2 years, we were spared of major difficulties,” he guaranteed.
In connection to the K-12 matter, the Brother President said that they did not re-trench any faculty since the school worked well with a “formula” they came up with, despite disagreements from the Faculty Association (See: Faculty article, Page 2).
Meanwhile Br. Gus also mentioned while talking about the faculty that he asked them to not engage in anything that will “shake the stability of the institution” as according to him, all 16 La Salle schools maintain a well-balanced system, instigating the brand image of vision.
“We saw a crisis coming years before, so we developed a plan, [and] we created a formula. It’s like a typhoon, it’s still very far away, it’s not even in our land yet so we started planning and the plans worked [out] well,” he furthered.
Vision for the students
With nothing but hope and optimistic words coming from the Brother President, he said he envisions DLSU-D as a “caring” university, which led him to develop his concept of the “culture of change” or the bringing in of ideas and paradigms that can transform the University.
The Brother President furthered that he wishes to see the students full of passion in studying, seeing it as not just a course but a lifestyle to be embraced.
“I want the University to have a human face, that as human beings, they will make a difference with their leadership skills, and our corporate social responsibility would be very pronounced,” he elaborated.
Meanwhile, the President’s office, together with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Research (OVCAR) and the Presidential Management Office (PMO) is currently planning to launch a school for governance, public service, and corporate leadership in DLSU-D, an enrichment certificate program on students’ leadership skills.
He said that it is a unique program which can make the learning of the students more relevant. “What is sad is if you as a student, [even if] you would do very well academically, but your feet are not grounded on the floor, then this is what this [certificate] program is all about, your feet to be grounded, because you have to see where is your course leading you,” he said.
The University’s stance
With all the recent socio-political national issues plaguing the country, many have looked to DLSU-D to await their two cents on the matter. However, Brother President has advised the community that careful articulation of thoughts regarding such issues stands as an utmost importance.
He also mentioned that virtue of prudence must be practiced. “We don’t run into the streets like headless chicken and suddenly, you drop because you are not prepared,” he expressed.
The Brother President also assured the Lasallian community that when an issue arises, the academe should “take the lead in sobriety” by looking at the objectives carefully.
In response to the University’s stand on social issues, specifically regarding extrajudicial killings rampant in President Duterte’s administration, “What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. We do not advocate killing the innocent,” he attested.
Moreover, the Brother President elaborated that our civilized society “sometimes takes things too fast” in silencing the person, or drug user, when in reality, it does not solve the real problem to deal with.
With all the recent events affecting the society, such as the Marawi siege, human rights violations, and the government’s war on drugs, Br. Gus went on to advise the Lasallian community to pray for the sparing of the nation.
“Your prayer and mine are as good as anything else before the Lord. Pray for the transformation of these war leaders who are creating a scenario of doom’s day for the worldwithout caring for them,” he expressed.
In addition to these, with the advent of fake news spreading like cancer, the Brother President said that the judiciary cannot “function well”.
“They (judiciary) are put into corners, and we in the academe, in this ministry, we are men and women committed to promote the spouting the truthbut at the same time, we are never ever going to crush the human being whether the person is a perpetrator or the victim,” the Brother President pledged.
With 12 years in construction, the Ayuntamiento building approaches its completion stage after the collection of funds from donors are acquired, the Brother President stated.
The Ayuntamiento will consist of board rooms, the major offices such as Office of the President; Vice Chancellor for Academic and Research; Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Services; Vice Chancellor for Mission; External Affairs and Advancement and the Presidential Management, and more.
The Center for Student Admissions, University Registrar, Accounting office, Student Scholarship office, gallery for exhibits and the school for governance, public services and leadership of DLSU-D will also be accommodated in the new building.
On the other hand, in response to the prolonged construction of the Ayuntamiento Building, the Brother President explained, “We had to keep priority, we are about to start operating inside (Ayuntamiento) and all of a sudden, the Engineering (College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology) building became a challenge, so we had to work out the funding.”
After the CEAT building’s reconstruction after its demolition few years ago, the Brother President seeks to continue developing the culture of change at a higher quality. “It (CEAT) is the most expensive building on campus [back] then, but the board said that one life is more important than a whole building, so we redo it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Brother President had gave an answer to the one question he’s probably been asked for quite a time now having reached his 10th year in DLSU-D––the possibility of serving for another term.
He said, “Well, if it comes from the superior and the board of trustees, I think it’s God’s will. In the same manner, if they do not renew me, I think it is God’s will as well.”
On the contrary, when asked on planning to retire soon, the Brother President explained that he is always willing to go beyond the borders of a president’s duties and responsibilities, whenever and wherever he is assigned to.
“Retirement is not a language for the Brothers, we retire when we are no longer able to do something,” he mentioned.
Looking back at the 10 years of the Brother President’s term, DLSU-D would not be where and who we are now if not for the numerous changes over the past decade. While one can’t please everyone and grumbles of discontent are still present, one can’t deny that the common goal in living out the core values of faith, zeal for service, and communion will keep the Lasallian community intact as we strive to achieve what we aim to do: be first-class citizens and serve the country.
With a report from Naomi Lane Tiburcio