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New UP Cebu dean vows to lead era of healing, growth

Cebuana lawyer Liza D. Corro was appointed dean of the University of the Philippines Cebu, ending a three-month search for a new leader to revitalize the state-run campus.

Corro, a corporate lawyer, was unanimously chosen by the Board of Regents, the UP system’s policy-making body, in a decision that gives her a solid mandate to steer a path of growth for the Cebu campus which has struggled with internal conflicts and an ouster campaign against the previous Cebu dean, Enrique Avila.

“I will be coming in as a healing dean,” Corro told Cebu Daily News on Wednesday after she took her oath of office before UP president Alfredo E. Pascual in Diliman, Quezon City.

“I know what the college has been through. I’m starting with the objective of sincerely helping my alma mater,” she said.

Among her top priorities, said Corro, is to set up an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Center on campus and to generate resources to support expansion plans.

In a paper defining her vision for UP Cebu, Corro said she would like the satellite campus to be “a vibrant and dynamic institution for higher learning” and to be distinctively known in the Philippines and abroad as the source of the “best graduates for employees or entrepreneurs in the fields of IT and management.”

Positive atmosphere

Corro said it was important to create a “positive working atmosphere of unity and teamwork”, tap alumni for help, stimulate the faculty, and inventory UP’s real property and assets to generate income.

Corro is the past president of the UP Alumni Association Cebu chapter, and has led several organizations as its president such as the FIDA Cebu chapter of female lawyers, Rotary Club of Gloria Maris, Legal Alternatives for Women Inc., and the UP Law Alumni Foundation Cebu chapter.

Her previous role in alumni networking echoes that of university president Pascual, who was president of the UP Alumni Association in the national level.

Corro’s appointment took effect on Dec. 4 after the Board of Regents meeting in Quezon City. A formal investiture program is planned for January 2013.

Corro obtained a degree in political science from UP Diliman and graduated from the UP College of Law in 1986. Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz C. Radaza is one of her nine siblings.

The new dean enters at a crucial period for UP Cebu, which is pursuing expansion plans for a 5-hectare extension campus for post-graduate studies with a digital library in the South Road Properties (SRP), and new colleges in its main 12-hectare campus in Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City.

In September 2010, UP Cebu was granted autonomous status and placed under the Office of the UP President, taking it out of the Iloilo-based UP Visayas and giving it more flexibility to pursue its own plans.

In recent years, a series of off-and-on student protest actions put UP Cebu in the limelight.

Ouster campaign

Discontent over its former dean Dr. Avila led to an ouster campaign in 2010 that was supported by some faculty and non-faculty staff over various issues, including an unpopular plan to close the high school, the phaseout of programs and the sudden termination of 15 security guards.

At one point, Avila filed libel charges against seven professors and two employees, which heightened the animosity. The cases were later dismissed in court.

In May 2010, the UP president placed Avila and two other administrators on preventive suspension on charges of “gross negligence, grave misconduct, and gross neglect of duty”.

Avila appealed his case to the Board of Regents, leaving UP Cebu to be headed by OIC deans for two years until his tenure ended on Nov. 30.

UP is the national university of the Philippines and receives government subsidy.

By tradition, its students and graduates are referred to as “iskolar ng bayan” (scholars of the nation)./EILEEN G. MANGUBAT

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