Rev. Fr. Cristopher C. Maspara, OAR, newly installed president of the San Sebastian College- Recoletos (SSC-R) in Manila, is pursuing the school’s goal of becoming a university.
In an interview with the Inquirer, the 41-year-old Maspara said that, during his three-year term, he would continue efforts started by his predecessor and would work to achieve the goal in 10 years.
Among other things, SSC-R will have to establish a solid graduate studies program to become a university.
SSC-R has already opened three new courses in its Institute of Graduate Studies—doctorates in Management and Theology and Master of Law.
Maspara also said he wanted the research culture strengthened within the faculty, encouraging instructors and professors to conduct studies. This will allow the school to reach level 4 accreditation, a pre-requisite to achieving university status.
But Maspara admitted there were many roadblocks to achieving their goal. Among them is the continuing decline in student population for the past several years.
This school year, enrollment dropped by seven percent. To attract more students, SSC-R has improved its existing programs by tying up with industry leaders for on-the-job training of students.
Industry partners include the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Astoria Hotel, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
Maspara said this would hopefully increase the students’ chances for employment immediately after graduation.
“We must be challenged and motivated to produce graduates equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills that shall propel them toward excellence in whatever field they venture into,” Maspara said.
“Our programs must be so designed (so) that our graduates may be at par with graduates of other institutions,” he added.
The school has enhanced its linkages with institutions that grant scholarships. It has also added some “in-demand” programs like Business Administration, Political Science, Mass Communication, Psychology, Information Technology and Supply Chain Management.
Maspara added that SSC-R would encourage people who have gained relevant industry experience but failed to finish their college education to get their degrees under the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (Eteeap).
Eteeap, which is administered by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), is “an educational scheme which allows deputized schools to assess and give credit to knowledge, skills and learning obtained by individuals from formal, nonformal and informal educational experiences.”
Any individual may apply to SSC-R’s Eteeap as long as he or she is at least 25 years old and has a minimum of five years work experience.
Aside from dwindling student population, Maspara’s term is also being challenged by social problems that put in question the quality of education students get.
“My presidency comes at a time when the nation’s integrity is at risk of being questioned and doubted,” Maspara said, alluding to the recent impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“This poses a lot of questions. … What type of graduates are we producing? When they come to the workforce, do they become part of this rotten system, or do they become conscientious workers contributing to the reshaping, changing of this culture and image of corruption?” he asked.
Another concern is violence associated with fraternities and sororities. Maspara said the school did not recognize such groups, except those in the College of Law.
The new SSC-R president said the list of recognized fraternities, along with the names of their officers, had been submitted to CHEd.
SSC-R encourages undergraduates to join other student organizations recognized by the school.
Undergraduate students found to be involved in a fraternity or sorority may be expelled from the school.
Maspara said he hoped his leadership would serve as a constant reminder of the roles educators play in the classroom. He believed the SSC-R must be committed not only “to opening minds but, more importantly, forming hearts with Gospel values.”