by Ryan Pascual (Regulon)
LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA – Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from various parts of Luzon gathered for the inaugural Colleges and Universities Public Service Conference (CUPSCon1) hosted by the University of the Philippines last November 26-27,2015. This is the second installment of CUPSCon1 with the first held on November 16-17 in UP Cebu and participated by HEIs from Visayas and Mindanao.
The two-day conference with the theme "From the Ivory Tower to the Communities: Engaging Society with Commitment and Expertise" was held at UP Open University (UPOU) and it featured plenary and parallel sessions on the policies and projects of HEIs that benefit sectors outside the university community.
According to the UPLB OVCRE website, the use of the "ivory tower" allusion in the UP community dates back to the challenge set in the 1950's by UP College of Agriculture Dean Dioscoro Umali who encouraged the faculty to apply their expertise on actual problems experienced in the countryside. This challenge led to UPCA's golden age of extension during Dr. Umali's term.
CUPSCon1 covered various topics such as community-engaged teaching and learning, institutionalization of community engagement and public service, knowledge-driven volunteerism, community engagement and public service; and university-industry linkages and engagements.
|UP Diliman CSSP Dean Dr. Grace Aguiling-Dalisay|
Photo: UPLB Research and Extension
First to address the conference plenary was UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) Dean Dr. Grace H. Aguiling-Dalisay who delivered the conference’s keynote talk entitled “Public Service in Higher Education: Why it Matters.” Dean Dalisay is an expert in developmental psychology, volunteering and civic participation, and sikolohiyang Pilipino.
Dr. Dalisay emphasized the importance of engagement in the context of public service and said "what matters is that we constantly think of how we can contribute as a university." As an example, she noted the existence of public service initiatives in the top universities – UP, La Salle, Ateneo and UST, although varying in name and formation.
The CSSP dean also mentioned that “volunteering is not the only form of public service, but it is an important form.” She added that volunteer programs are important pathways in advancing the goal of higher education and “regardless of academic field, there is a room for volunteering.” Recognizing this, CSSP is reviving UP Diliman’s Ugnayan ng Pahinungod at the college-level through Ugnayan ng Pahinungod – CSSP. Dean Dalisay previously served as the UP Diliman and UP System Pahinungod coordinator.
Dalisay also called for a collaboration on the revival of UPOU’s online volunteer service management course, as well as the increased support and consideration of academic leaders in encouraging and rewarding faculty engagement to public service.