By Ian Zane T. Esparaga | News Writer
Vol. XCI No. 10
Nov. 22, 2019
Silliman University (SU) hosted the 2019 Association for Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) Management Conference with the theme: “Affirming Christian Leadership in Higher Education: Accessing Opportunities and Addressing Challenges” last Nov. 6 to 8.
Academic leaders of member universities attended the three-day program which aimed to create a deeper awareness of one’s leadership impact, support the leaders in refining their personal leadership styles, and strengthen their emotional intelligence and their ability to connect and acquire skills that would enable them to bring out the best in others.
The enhancement of skills and showcase of expertise started with an executive committee meeting during the first day of the event and followed up by the welcoming reception and solidarity dinner at Dumaguete City Mayor’s Residence. A panel discussion on Transformational Leadership, Environmental Sustainability and Creating Cultures of Peace was held at the Luce Auditorium the following day.
Academic leaders exchanged best practices that aim to grow and shape their individual institutions. The discussion highlighted individual strategies that sparked ideas and innovation. The panelists included Dr. Carmen Valdes, president of Assumption College, Philippines; Dr. Henry Feriadi, president of Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana, Indonesia; and SU president and current ACUCA president, Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann.
Dr. Valdes highlighted the importance of co-curricular activities in a student’s life. “There is no such thing as curricular and extra-curricular, it is only curricular and co-curricular. There is no such thing as extra because sports and art, these are not extra. This is the essence where you actually exceed in action, you won’t see it in the classroom.”
She urged parents and teachers not to discourage their children if they excel outside the field of academics, “I told teachers and parents not to do this, a child is failing in math but she’s really good at volleyball. You can’t play anymore, just pass math”. Saying such words is a huge mistake according to her. “The one thing she does well where she gets her self-confidence, she will destroy it and to do something she doesn’t do well which is math,” she added.
“Valedictorian, magna cum laude, summa cum laude, whatever it is, sweethearts, it’s not important.” Valdes warns the students to avoid competition, “Comparisons are oldies and they don’t work. Let each one be their own individual self. Always be the best that you can be, don’t compare yourself to anybody else,” she added.
On the other hand, Dr. Henry Periadi talked about navigating universities in the time of disruptive changes. He stressed out the three things that occur as of now. “We are experiencing and living in a digital revolution and the second one would be the millennial and gen Z learners and then how about spirituality and peace.”
He added that the transformation of education will lead to the transformation of lives.
Meanwhile, Dr. McCann focused on the environmental sustainability aspect as she took pride in SU’s pioneering programs designed to promote environmental sustainability not just for the university itself but also for the local communities. “The university has a number of curricular programs, research agenda, the community extension projects that time in well with the call for Christian higher education institutions to be more rigorous in their response to the issues of the environment,” Dr. McCann said.
One of the programs mentioned was the Marina clinic which addresses the health needs and assistance of fisher folks and farmers of nearby communities. The center for tropical studies that promotes reforestation projects as well as the Bacong Island marine conservation program and the SU’s zero-waste policy were also mentioned.
Former SU president Ben Malayang gave the final remarks of the forum.
On the final day, a discussion on Internalization Strategies and Exponential Technologies in Whole Person Education, and Local Traditions and Global Trends was held in Silliman Hall. The delegates had a closing dinner at Our Lady’s Grotto and Garden in Sibulan to wrap up the celebration.