Last March 12, 2014 the Ateneo Professional Schools (APS) celebrated their 40th anniversary in an event entitled APS@40: Four as One. In the event conducted in the APS Rockwell campus, hosted by Vice President for the Professional Schools Dr. Antonette P. Angeles, the special guests were Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III and Ateneo de Manila University President Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ.
Four schools make up the APS - Ateneo Law School (ALS), Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB), Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH). Although the Law School is more than 75 years old and the ASMPH is very much younger, 2014 marks the 40th year of the Ateneo Professional Schools as a single unit.
In 1974, then Ateneo de Manila University President, Fr. Jose A. Cruz, S.J. issued a memo to the Ateneo de Manila community announcing the “Reorganization Plan for Central University Administration.” The memo announced the creation of the Office of the Vice President (VP) for the Ateneo Professional Schools (APS) and the appointment of its first Vice President, Fr. Thomas R. Fitzpatrick, S.J. Reporting to Fr. Fitzpatrick were the College of Law, established in 1936, the Graduate School of Business (GSB) established in 1960). In the 1990s, Dr. Alfredo R. A. Bengzon was appointed as VP of the professional schools and it was under his watch, with Fr. Bienvenido Nebres SJ as university president, that the Schools of Government (2001) and Medicine and Public Health (2007) were established. Batanes Representative Henedina Abad was the founding dean of ASoG while Dr. Bengzon served as the first dean of the school of medicine.
The commemorative event brought the four schools together to celebrate its anniversary and also rededicate themselves to their mission of forming those who will build the nation. During the occasion, four commemorative red bricks inscribed with the Ateneo seal and the names of the individual schools were signed by Angeles and the heads of the professional schools, Associate Dean Lily Gruba for ALS (for ALS Dean Sedfrey Candelaria), Dean Albert Buenviaje for AGSB, Dean Manuel Dayrit for ASMPH, and yours truly as Dean of ASoG. President Aquino and Fr. Villarin witnessed the signing of the bricks.
The four bricks represented the strong foundation of the Ateneo Professional Schools and their existence over the last forty years and signified a rededication of the schools—and the entire Ateneo—to its commitment to building the nation through men and women for others. In more concrete terms, they symbolized laying the foundation for a bigger APS, which will start with building a 5th floor and mezzanine on the Rockwell campus.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Angeles pointed out that our 40th anniversary celebration was not only a looking back as a much as it is a looking forward. In her words: “In our yearlong, we renew our unwavering commitment to nation building. In today’s event, we make a promise of things to come: we will become bigger and better in forming professionals and leaders for the nation.”
For the ASMPH, as an institution, this means becoming a leader in redefining health and how health is accessed and delivered in the country. As such, it will serve as a catalyst for systemic, systematic, and structural changes in the health sector by producing graduates who are physician-leaders. The school of medicine aims to graduate: outstanding clinicians, with mastery of clinical skills and compassion to care for the health needs of the individuals; dynamic leaders, with the expertise to bring systems and resources together to enable the clinician to practice his craft; and, social catalysts, with the leadership competencies to systematically solve the systemic problems of ill-health and poverty and make quality health care available and working for all.
For the AGSB, THE thrust is to make THEIR students “primus inter pares” (first among equals), recognizing them as workplace-based professionals who are leaders in their respective organizations. It gives premium to learning that is distilled from both classroom and business experiences, wherein one experience enriches the other. Theories learned are validated and made relevant in the workplace, and work experience is deepened and given structure in academic life.
For the Ateneo Law School, its immediate mission is the formation of men and women not only skilled in the science and art of the law but also imbued with a burning passion for justice and the desire to serve. Towards the accomplishment of its mission as a school of law, the school insists on intellectual rigor in the tradition of Jesuit education. Intellectual rigor includes a thorough grasp of the nature and ends of law, the ability to express legal conviction in forceful oral and written communication, and sensitivity to the role of law as instrument of service towards individuals and of social engineering.
Finally, for the School of Government, our mission is “transforming communities, building a nation”. We work with effective and ethical public servants and form, support and connect leaders that will build prosperous, sustainable, just, and happy communities throughout the Philippines. As the graduate school of leadership and public service of the Ateneo de Manila University, we create an environment that fosters the development of new ideas and approaches, and makes possible a learning process that bridges the gap between classroom wisdom and real-world policy decision-making and governance.
To maximize our impact, all four schools have agreed to work with each other and develop common initiatives, including joint degree and research programs All of these we will do, conscious of our identify as units of one Catholic, Filipino, and Jesuit universities.
The last word in our anniversary came from President Aquino. He reminded as what “Four as One” meant: “Nawa’y huwag nating makaligtaan na itong Four as One ay Four as One for Others.” Yes, that what we are, exactly.
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