Dr. Pascual gets reappointed as URS President

The Board of Regents (BOR) of the University of Rizal System (URS) approved the second term of Dr. Nancy Pascual during its Special Meeting at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Office at UP Diliman, Quezon City on February 19, 2024.

Dr. Pascual served her first term from February 23, 2020 to February 22, 2024, and her second term runs from February 23, 2024 to February 22, 2028. In her four-year leadership, she tackled the life-changing challenges of the pandemic and emerged victorious. Through her transparent, participative, and transformative leadership, numerous feats were recorded in the pages of the history of the University of Rizal System. Remarkably, administrative efficiency, more responsive and relevant curricular programs, faculty and staff advancement, enhanced student development, functional research and extension, vibrant production services, enhanced physical facilities, increased international linkages and partnerships, pandemic-prompted initiatives, and strong stakeholder relations topped the long list.

Administrative Efficiency

Guided by a 10-year Strategic Plan for 2021-2031, the University operates efficiently and effectively. It has had full ISO 9001:2015 certification from TÜV Rheinland for all ten campuses from 2021. With standard practices, the whole URS community rejoiced as it received the Performance-Based Bonus for two consecutive years (2020 and 2021) for amidst unprecedented changes at the height of the pandemic, URS achieved passing marks in all the criteria set forth by the inter-agency task force AO 25 as guidelines.

The URS Land Use and Infrastructure Development Plan (LUDIP) led to the provision of “rational, holistic, efficient and just allocation, utilization, development and management” of the University’s “land and water resources that are consistent with the principles of equity, social justice, environmental integrity, and sustainable development for the common good.” The URS is among the few Php 2,000,000.00 LUDIP development fund recipients.

More Responsive and Relevant Curricular Programs

URS migrated towards flexible learning to ensure that quality education is delivered amidst the situation’s uncertainties. Its Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) served as the pivot that facilitated effective learning delivery. The partnership with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) stimulated faculty engagement and eased LCP’s implementation. Moreover, this was coupled with the faculty-produced 3,668 modules across disciplines for the 1st semester and 2,381 modules in the 2nd semester of AY 2020-2021, which are now of comprehensive use in the instruction. During the height of the pandemic, these modules instrumentally facilitated teaching-learning processes while ensuring the safety of everyone, especially the learners.

In undergraduate and graduate education programs, 100 % accreditation status was granted by the Accrediting Agency for Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP). This was higher than the 81% and 91% targets, respectively. By specific levels for the undergraduate programs, in 2021, 15 programs were awarded Level 1 accreditation, 42 with Level 2, six with Level 3, and one with Level 4. In 2022, 12 programs were awarded with Level 1 accreditation, 42 with Level 2, 11 with Level 3, and one with Level 4.

In compliance with government recognitions, 66 programs were applied for, and 63 or 95% of them were issued a Certificate of Program Compliance (COPC) by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Six curricular reforms have been approved for enhancement: BS Mechanical Engineering, BS Civil Engineering, BS Electronics Engineering, BS Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, AB Journalism, and AB English Language Studies, plus the implementation order for curriculum revisions. In addition to its array of program offerings, the University now offers a BS in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Industrial Technology.

As part of the commitment to serve the Rizaleños and its quest to become a premier academic institution, processes are underway on the establishment of the URS College of Medicine—a move strengthening the pursuit of medicine and public health in the province as a way of answering demands of the pandemic time.

Faculty and Staff Advancement

With the implementation of the institutional promotion, NBC 461 8th Cycle for faculty and NBC 589 for non-teaching personnel, 384 URS personnel were promoted based on their exemplary performance and contributions to the University. Further, 85 personnel were recognized and awarded for their professional advancement through finishing higher degrees. Faculty participation in conferences marked a significant boost, with 131 who attended international conferences, 819 national conferences, 251 regional conferences, and 1938 local conferences from 2020-2023. Scholarships and fellowships have benefitted the 17 faculty members on part-time scholarships, four in full-time, and one on international grants. Likewise, four non-teaching personnel were also given scholarship grants. As another support form, 30 personnel received financial assistance for thesis/dissertation writing. Adding to the number were the 64 PRAISE Award for Career and Self-Development Incentive recipients.

Recognizing the vital role of the University’s human resources, Dr. Pascual pushed for the placement of URS Institutional Promotion. It resulted in the advancing in ranks of 279 faculty members from various disciplines across the University’s ten campuses.

Moreover, regularly, the personnel received their year-end bonuses and cash gifts. During the pandemic, the president ensured that these reached the hands of the personnel: personnel enhancement incentive internet/communication allowance amounting to Php 3,000 each of the 930 faculty in 1st and 2nd Sem. Likewise, the non-teaching staff who reported for work at the height of the pandemic were given hazard pay based on the number of days reported during the period covered.

Enhanced Student Development

As the world moves forward with the pandemic on the sides, the University proactively worked on the Enhanced Learning Continuity Plan (ELCP)LCP with the inclusion of a hybrid delivery mode. The approved setup allows 50% in-person classes while the remaining half stays at home and vice versa. Courses with laboratory components, such as BS Nursing, were the first to experience the setup.

The University’s URS Icon [URS Internet-Connectivity/Wi-fi Connection for URS Campuses]” was granted by CHED with generous funding of Php 13,603,055.00. This grant supports all connectivity in all URS campuses. More specifically, it aided faster internet access, online enrolment, online encoding of grades, and other academic processes.

In pursuit of efficiency among all academic and administrative units, the University’s School Management Information System with Learning Management System (SMIS-LMS) project was granted by CHED with Php 16,274,600.00. This SMIS-LMS automates all manual transactions at all levels of operation among office units, such as enrolment, encoding of grades, accounting, attendance, Gate Management System, SMS notification system, Biometrics/Payroll system, Assets/Supplies system, cashless POS, and ensures that all clients are reached out and served.

Moreover, in a move to be at par with the reputable universities in the Asian region, the University proposed and has been granted Php 25,000,000.00 funding from CHED for the establishment of URS Hybrid Studios in support of Flexible Learning in the non-contact times. The establishment of the URS Hybrid Studios enables the planning, content development, writing, production, validation, and final development of learning materials, including, but not limited to, audio-visual presentations of course materials and curated lectures of select professors. Inspired by “live studios” in advanced countries, learning materials are discussed through video recording enhanced with exciting visual effects for an improved and more immersive learning experience, thus providing a smooth transition from traditional higher education delivery mode to a more technology-driven Education 6.0.

While braving the pandemic, URS students demonstrated exemplary performance and competitive spirit in various competitions in the regional, national, and international organizations and award-giving bodies. These included the Southern Tagalog Regional Association of State Universities and Colleges (STRASUC) Olympics; International Association of Business Communicators; Development Studies, Arts and Humanities, Business, and Economics Education, Science and Engineering, and Technology and Innovation (DABEST); Research and Development Congress; Philippine Statistics Authority – CALABARZON; National Federation of Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (NFJPIA); Southern Tagalog Agriculture, Aquatic, and Resources Research Development and Extension Consortium (STAARRDEC); DOST-RDCHIME Regional Animation Module Contest 2021; 2021 YES Painting Contest-Sikat ng Sining Rizal; CHED-RO IV Online Poster Competition; 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines (2021 QCP); International Conference on Multidisciplinary and Current Educational Research; Miss Celestial World; and Philippine Textile Research Institute in collaboration with DOST.

In addition, in terms of scholarship, a total of 10,939 scholars of government and private donors were helped in pursuing their tertiary education. There were 3,376 recipients of the Tertiary Education Subsidy from 2020 to 2023, amounting to Php 20,000.00 each term per student; 7,283 recipients of the Tulong-Dunong Program in the same period with Php 7,500. 00 each; 47 recipients of Tulong Agri Program with Php 13,500; five recipients of Php 20,000.00 each from CHED FSSP; three recipients of Php 10,000.00 to Php 20,000.00 from GAA Funded Program; 56 recipients of CHED Scholarship Program with Php 10,000.00 to Php 20,000.00; 94 recipients of Php 15,000.00 from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP-RISE); and 110 recipients of Php 6,000.00 from the Teacher’s Education Scholarship Program; and 62 recipients of Php 5,000.00 per term from the Bayanihan 2 for Higher Education Tulong Program (B2HELP) in 2020.

Utmost collaborative efforts exerted by the administration and the whole URS community resulted in the University’s graduates who passed licensure examinations 56.31% in CY 2021, 52.89% in CY 2022, and 43.68% in CY 2023.

Apart from the passers, it has produced five topnotchers in various examinations: Justin Garrovillas, Top 8 in the January 2022 Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers-Secondary Level; John Carlo Baysic, Top 2 in the April 2022 Electronics Technician Licensure Examination; Ruben Columna Jr., Top 10 in the September 2023 Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers-Secondary Level; Ria Krystel Boloyos, Top 10 in the September 2023 Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers-Elementary Level; and Maria Tacianne Funes, Top 9 in the October 2023 Licensure Examination for Fisheries Professionals.

The University has remained the province’s most trusted higher education institution (HEI). Its enrollees in undergraduate and graduate programs ballooned from 34,567 in AY 2020-2021 to 46,088 in the 1st and 2nd semesters of AY 2022-2023

Functional Research and Extension 

In research and extension, 18 approved research studies were published and utilized by the industry; 123 were completed, and 34 were published in refereed journals. The number of faculty involved in research increased by 26.78% in 2020, 27.91% in 2021, and 27.67% in 2022. Likewise, ten faculty members have conducted studies used as bases for development plans and policy formulation in the University and other agencies. These included research on upward mobility of faculty members, programs and services assessment of the Office of Student Development Services (OSDS), disaster risk reduction management, implementation of RA 9003-An Act Providing for an Ecological Solid Waste Management Program, the proposed Pililla Business District, and local government analysis.

The University has produced research outputs that resulted in income generation. These include the Production and Marketability of Pangasius Catfish, the Development and Validation of Fish Bam, the Production and Marketing Program of Gourmet Tuyo, the Establishment of a Creative and Digital Print Services Center, and the Production and Commercialization of Powdered Trichantera (not included in the list of completed researches). Other research outputs were utilized, cascaded to the community, and co-implemented with partner local government units (LGUs). These include Enhancement of the Developed Barangay Management Information System (BMIS) and Community Needs Assessment of Brgy. Llavac, Real Quezon: Input to Socio-economic Development Program. In recognition of the research ingenuity of the faculty members, 23 (15) studies were awarded in local competitions and five with international citations.

In extension, an increase was also noted in the number of faculty who engage in extension projects—31.17% in 2020, 15.38% in 2021, and 51.40 % in 2022. The University entered partnerships with 37 organizations and completed 44 projects. With this, 13,422 trainees and beneficiaries have been served. Further, six extension projects were conducted as outputs of research. These included “Evaluation of Office Skills among Local Government Units Personnel of Municipality of Rodriguez towards a Proposed Extension Project,” “Psychological Intervention Program and Its Effect to Flood Survivors,” “Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction Practices of the Selected Households in Antipolo City,” “Classroom Discourses among Male and Female College Students: Basis for Communication Enhancement Project on Gender-Fair Teaching,” “On the Influence of Sample Size to Precision of Percentages and Means in a Survey Research,” and “Assessing Tourist Satisfaction as Basis for Development of Destinations in Antipolo City.”

The University has produced a milestone with several faculty researchers and extension implementers who received recognition at the international and national levels for the presentation and publication of their research and extension papers. A faculty was recognized and awarded as Outstanding Extension Practitioner by the Philippine Extension and Advisory Network (PhilEASNet) on October 15, 2021. Added to these was the groundbreaking conduct of the 2022 International Multidisciplinary Research and Extension Conference (IMREC) and the 2023 National Research and Extension Advocacy Conference for Change (NREACH).

Moreover, significant changes were introduced by the administration in its research and extension policies. Per board approval, URS has a new Research Agenda, Revised Research Operations Manual, Extension Thrusts and Priorities, and Revised Extension Services Operations Manual. These salient changes reflect the needs of the time and evolving trends in priority areas that ultimately manifested in the newly crafted agenda. The funding and incentives for faculty researchers have significantly increased while processes were streamlined to encourage better participation among the academic force.

Vibrant Production Services

Initiatives such as One Campus, One Product (OCOP) brought more vibrance to the production service. This campaign has enjoined all campuses to have their flagship products/services and monthly URS Panalo Caravan, where the best agricultural produce of the main campus is being sold at reasonable prices.

Further, developments have led to ensuring the protection of the rights of researchers and inventors. The Intellectual Property Office has facilitated the registration and grant of two inventions, 15 trademarks, one industrial design, and 297 copyrights. In addition, four inventions, five utility models, and four copyrights have been filed and are in process. Of these registrations, 23 were research-based, stemming from the dedication of faculty members.

Enhanced Physical Facilities 

Aiding the University’s thrust to enhance physical facilities were the national government’s grants of Php 25,770,000.00 in 2020; Php 92,334,000.00 in 2021; Php 12,935,000.00 in 2022; and Php 33,503,061.34 in 2023 for various infrastructure projects. CHED grants amounted to Php 13,603,055.00, Php 16,274,600.00; Php 25,000,000.00 for three SMART Campus innovation projects, and Php 2,000,000.00 for Land Use Development and Infrastructure Projects.

For the last few years, the University established infrastructure amounting to a total of Php 140,804,000.00 in nine projects namely: Fortifying Engineering and Education Curricular and Instructional Services through 21st Century Virtual Learning (Tanay and Morong campuses), Procurement of Equipment and Instrument for Food Testing Laboratory Expansion, Enhancement of Existing Autotronics Innovation Center, Upgrading of Campus e-Library, Campus Improvement for Student Services (Rehabilitation of Comfort Rooms and Lavatory Facilities) (ten URS campuses), Establishment of Dormitory and Business Center (Antipolo City, Morong, and Tanay campuses), Upgrading of Nursing Skills laboratory, MODEL University Resilient and SMART Building and 21st Century Collaboration SMART Classroom. It also invested in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Communications Equipment, amounting to Php 4,309,180.01, Php 19,632,235.92 in 2021, and Php 24,515,721.26 in 2022. These show the endearing commitment of the University to pushing the frontiers of digitalization to the core of its academic and administrative operations.

To complement the physical infrastructure, the budget has been allotted for office equipment, agricultural and forestry equipment, medical equipment, technical and scientific equipment, other machinery and equipment, furniture, fixtures, and sports equipment, amounting to Php 16,219,003.60 in 2020; Php 13,506,360.00 in 2021; and Php 3,265,268.75 in 2022.

Increased International Linkages and Partnerships

Taking a significant space in the international arena, the University has forged partnerships with top Asian universities. It partnered with Maejo University in Thailand and Government College University Faisalabad (GCUF) in Pakistan. It maintains existing collaboration with the National Taipei University in Taiwan. The partnership agreement is still being legalized, including Shenyang Jianzhu University (SJZU) in China and The University of Faisalabad (TUF) in Pakistan.

Pandemic-Prompted Initiatives

At the height of the pandemic and onslaught of typhoons, URS implemented URS KAYAKAP or Kapwa ay Yamang Kaagapay sa Pagbangon ng Pamayanan, a  Bayanihan Project that facilitated the distribution of goods and hygiene kits to thousands of beneficiaries in identified areas in the province.

Underscoring the strategic and operational importance of partnerships, the University has inked Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) with 37 local, national, and international organizations from 2020 to 2023. These partnerships have paved the way towards bringing various benefits to the URS community in all its fourfold functions. Likewise, the collaboration between the University and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) resulted in fuss-free and secured transactions from the national government; thus, students enjoy the privilege of being “iskolar ng bayan.” The MOA with Land Bank of the Philippines Tanay Branch on the project “Establishment of Online Payment Services through Landbank.Link.Biz Portal” afforded students in both undergraduate and graduate levels convenience and efficiency in paying school fees and other requests via the Internet across all sectors.

In 2020, the University conducted 13 training sessions with 2,257 trainees; in 2021, 16 training sessions with 5,453 participants; and in 2022, 103 training sessions with 6,679 trainees. Finally, in 2023, the trainees weighted by length of training were pegged at 1,146.50 already. The University, through its various interventions, has significantly served and transferred considerable knowledge and expertise to multiple sectors.

With its heart for the community, the University has received Php 777,458.15 for soap production, Php 262,605.00 for the URSafe washable face masks, both from CHED, and training supplies and materials from STAARRDEC for the Pagpapayabong ng Produktong Pang-Agrikultura. In 2022, it received Php 4,000,000.00 from CHED for the Bamboo Propagation Program.

Strong Stakeholders Relations

The cordial and dedicated professional that she is, Dr. Pascual has forged strong relations with stakeholders. She has never missed attending education-related invitations and dialogues with different institutions and the pillars of the province. Currently, she serves as the Chairperson of the Province of Rizal Educational Development Council (PREDAC), a council that takes innovative measures to champion the education of Rizaleños. She has brought URS closer to the hearts of everyone in the province and the province to URS. The University’s contributions in the conduct of the Guronasyon Awards in 2022 and 2023 have contributed much to its success and the profound inspiration of the educators and educational leaders in the province. True to this are the statements of support of the community leaders in the Province of Rizal.

“With what I have started, I am humbly motivated to continue serving our University. I am committed to promoting academic excellence, innovation, inclusivity, and empowerment, ensuring that URS remains a home of inspiration, success, and positive societal change,” said Dr. Nancy Pascual.