In synch with the current trend of using hashtags, this was how ADZU President Karel San Juan SJ, synthesized the two-part, six-day University Strategic Planning Conference (USPC) held May 11-13, 2016 at the Garden Orchid Hotel, and May 25-27, 2016 at the Palacio del Sur.
Fr President stated that his synthesis mirrored back to the participants numbering more than 100 heads of the different units and offices, the results of the series of Conversations or a total of 10 group discussions and workshop sessions during the conference.
The numbers 1, 3 and 16, he explained, represent the Oneness or united front of the Ateneo as a University, the three (3) strategic thrusts in its way of proceeding, namely: Excellence, Institutional Stability and Sustainability, and Integral Formation For All; and the sixteen (16) strategic areas, among them: in the area of Excellence, ADZU being primarily in the business of Education: academic performance, research and community engagement; challenges in flagship programs and the possibilities of creating new ones, innovations, and frameworks; the deepening of Cultural sensitivity in the light of the challenges of multi-identity, diversity, historical healing and the youth – at the same time ensuring the Jesuit character in all.
While ADZU can continue its standard operating procedures in the triad of instruction, research, and community involvement, Fr President said that it is in the spirit of magis and excellence that the university needs to be “restless,” always in search of new ideas and new undertakings.
In the area of Institutional Stability and Sustainability, he emphasized the need to strengthen the university through: Finance, fund-raising, revenue-generation, cost-cutting; improvement of Facilities; beefing up Communications, marketing, recruitment and enrolment which pose a great challenge in the “age of social media”; laying down Policies, structures, protocols, systems; strengthening consortium among the Ateneos, resource sharing; nurturing the sense of community, mentoring, conversations or “things that have kept many in the Ateneo through the years”; a more responsive and active Leadership, strategic planning; and the “tremendous demands” for Human resource, incentives and trainings. All these, to make the environment “enabling” and “facilitative of excellence”.
He underscored the importance of institutional stability, stating that it will make the two other strategic thrusts of excellence and formation happen. He appealed to the participants, stating, “… there should be … a committee to strategize revenue generation. If you are entrepreneurial, if you have ideas, please volunteer…” He expressed confidence that ADZU is an excellent “product” to package and sell, considering its role and contribution in the development of the region.
To attain Excellence and Financial stability, he pointed out Integral Formation for All which includes the total development of the person for all stakeholders; the major task of embedding Ignatian/Jesuit spirituality in all university undertakings, the inclusive characteristic of Jesuit education which welcomes everyone of varying “worldviews and thoughts and religions” all in the Spirit of Mission; and in the same light, Accompaniment in the form of structural and non-structural systems in the university setting which may come in the form of presence, of simply being there, forging friendships, conversing informally, or counselling.
There are, however, challenges that come with carrying out the task of Formation, he added, stating that, “Interfaith should be taken more seriously. … We have to move again in terms of interreligious dialogue.”
Fr President also highlighted the role of each member of the community in the task of Formation. “All of us are formators and culture-bearers, an administrator caught up in your office 8-5 doing papers or as frontliners in the university setting as teachers.” He reminded everyone that “Teachers as frontliners, are formators, culture-bearers, models. People look up to you. They are formed by you more than the words we say, by your presence” and that “ultimately, (cura personalis) is the most formative of all, more than teaching, more than books…”