by Dr. Gerardo Janairo
I come before you today, humbled yet ready, to be entrusted with the important task of leading our great university as its fifth Chancellor. It is a daunting task, as we face the uncertainties of the K to 12 transition and the opportunities provided by the Asean integration. As we prepare to meet these challenges head-on, it is but important to take stock from the wellspring of Catholic and Lasallian tradition from which we draw our strength as a university.
Be present to young people
As the late Br. Luke Salm of Manhattan College explained, “it was well known that the Christian Schools of De La Salle and his Brothers provided a quality education . . . But the Founder also wanted his schools to have a distinctive quality derived from the Christian tradition and centered on the person and message of Jesus Christ. For that reason, no school, not even an institution of higher learning, could claim to inherit the Lasallian tradition if it were to neglect the religious development of its maturing students. In France, even today, the word Christian means Roman Catholic . . . [Lasallian institutions] now attract an increasing number of students of other faiths, or no faith at all. There is reason to hope that the tradition of the Christian schools can still propose ultimate human, ethical, and religious values to our students of whatever religious persuasion.” As Pope Francis extolled us during his recent papal visit, “Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope.”
It is from these Catholic and Lasallian traditions that we emphasize “communion in mission.” The spirit of community recalls the dynamic association by which the first Christian Brothers worked together and by association–to touch hearts, teach minds, and transform lives. It is with this spirit that I would like to bring the university administration closer to the entire Lasallian community. Br. Luke emphasized that “this aspect of the Lasallian tradition ought to be pervasive enough to transform an impersonal education institution into an authentic community where persons meet persons, where mind speaks to mind and heart speaks to heart, where the learning experience is shared with persons who can call each other friends.” Let us not run the university by checklist. Policies should facilitate creativity and discovery of new knowledge; and enable the faculty and students to achieve excellence, never to constrain them. Let us stop throwing roadblocks at excellence.
The challenges of K to 12
In this light, we are preparing some initiatives to meet the challenges of the K to 12 transition and the implementation of the new General Education curriculum. These initiatives will be discussed in a separate forum with the Deans and Chairs. But allow me to assure you that through these initiatives, no full-time or permanent employee of the University will be put at a disadvantage. We will also continue to ensure the seamless integration of our Science and Technology campus and fast-track its development into the hub of the “next big idea.” We are ready to roll out the Lasallian Roadmap to the Asean Community to help transition our university into the Asean Community. We will strive to increase our competitiveness in the region and in the world.
In preparation for the challenges ahead of us, we must utilize all our available resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. We will implement prudent budgeting in which resources will be concentrated to achieve our key strategic targets and apply austerity measures to non-essential items. We will also address the problem of underspending in key strategic items. We will craft a dynamic budget ready to address the needs of a 21st century millennial university.
Make a difference
Inspired by our logo of the Lasallian star, let me close with a story by Loren Eiseley,
There was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.
One day as he was walking along the shore, he saw a young man picking up starfish and throwing it back gently into the ocean. The wise man asked, “why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
The young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said,
“It made a difference for that one.”
My fellow Lasallians, let us all make a difference!
Thank you very much and a pleasant afternoon to all. Animo La Salle!
Dr. Gerardo Janairo was inaugurated as the 5th Chancellor of De La Salle University on June 30, 2015. This was his inaugural speech. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.