VPAA unveils effective launch of One Letran System

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September 01, 2018
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CONVEYANCE. Vice President for Academic Affairs Assoc. Prof. Cristina Castro-Cabral, PhD. delivers the yearly Arriba Address at the Colegio’s Chapel. Photo by Enrique Agcaoili.

By Angel Grace Untalan

With the intention to inform the Colegio and its stakeholders an in-depth knowledge on the endeavors of the institution, Vice President of
Academic Affairs Assoc. Prof. Cristina Castro-Cabral presented the research entitled, ‘A Grounded Theory Model for the One Letran System: Challenges and Learnings’, during this year’s Arriba Address at the Colegio Chapel last July 16, 2018.

The paper, co-authored by Letran Manila Rector Rev. Fr. Clarence Marquez O.P., specifically discussed the accomplishments, challenges, benefits, and recommendations that stemmed from the successful integration of the One Letran System, beginning the year
2012 to the present.

Dr. Cabral readily pronounced that the One Letran System offers not just a grounded theory model for the said system, but also presents significant developments especially in the areas of religious education and research and publication as these manifested relative promise, progress, and productivity among all clusters.

Nonetheless, the status of integration is still partial as the four campuses’ interactions are still limited only to the One Letran general assembly and cluster meetings. 

BLUEPRINT OF THE INTEGRATION

The Colegio’s efforts towards the One Letran System can be traced back from the ordination of several significant provisions on the Acts of
the 10th Provincial Chapter of the Dominican Province of the Philippines (DPP) in April 2012.

Former Rector and President Rev. Fr. Tamerlane Lana O.P., drafted a proposal for the DPP school system in December 2012, particularly
recommending strategies on academic program offerings and curriculum development, delivery of instruction, collaborative research
and publication, community and extension development program, professional environment and continuing education, human
management and development, and standardized school management systems and procedures.

The proposal, referred to as ‘Two in One Dominican’, was inspired by Act 123 of the 10th Provincial Chapter, which specifically states that DPP move towards integrating all existing educational institutions of the province within their two venerable and historical commissions – the
Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the University of Sto. Tomas.

The execution of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on August 8, 2014 among the rectors of Colegio de San Juan de Letran - Manila, Calamba, Bataan, and Manaoag binding their schools to the One Letran System is still regarded as the most significant event that occurred over the years 2012-2016. It was through this MOA that Our Lady of Manaoag College officially became Colegio de San Juan
de Letran - Manaoag.

A UNIFIED LANDSCAPE

One of the pioneering organizers of the integration, Planning and Organizational Development Office Director Asst. Prof. Randy Castillo
explained to The LANCE that the process of One Letran is divided into different clusters for easier implementation and to establish the
culture.

He added that the One Letran System aims to come up with a platform for all Letran schools to appear in the academic industry as
one— unified through a single name, goal, commitment, and educational system.

“But it’s not one Rector, wala pa siya sa ganoong aspeto,” Castillo clarified. Both Religious Education and Research clusters produced a unified mission and vision statement, as the Religious Education implemented a unified curriculum for the academic year 2017-2018 in the three Letran schools except Manaoag, while the Research cluster head towards the plan to draft a standardized model of research for all the Letran systems.

Letran Manila Research Center director and current head of One Letran research cluster Asst. Prof. Louie Ian Mariano cited an example
on how they intend to standardize the process of research in all four Letran campuses.

“Most of the process from Bataan are adopted from Manila, even the language editing, originality check, statistics, instrument validation, it has been adopted by Letran Bataan, para standardized not only in the institution [Manila], pati yung sa kanila,” he said in an sit in interview with The LANCE.

“In time, I hope magkaroon ng standardized model for the conduct of research for all the four campuses not only for students, but also for
employees,” he added.


UNFOLDING ACTION POINTS

The adaptation of either a graded or non-graded system is one of the highly debated topics within the Religious Education cluster.

According to Vice President of Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. John Stephen Besa O.P., the talks regarding the said grading system is still in the process.

He also mentioned that their cluster plans to come up with a consolidated module, compiling chapters of learning materials from all four Letran schools titled, ‘Letranism’.

“To come up with one learning materials for RA, Theology, CLE, yun ‘yung hope namin in terms of academics,” Rev. Fr. Besa explained to
The LANCE.

On the other hand, the Research cluster focuses on the ongoing implementation of key programs for research and for better engagement
through outputs and publications.

‘TRANEA’ (Training and Needs Assessment) is one of their projects where they identify the strength and weaknesses of all four campuses
through a survey to generate a program for another project entitled ‘TORCH’ (Training Opportunities for Research Capacity Honing) that are
centered on providing seminars and workshops to faculty members.

Some of their other ongoing significant projects includes ‘ROCKS’, (Research Opportunities for Content and Knowledge) centered through
conferences where researchers and researches from the four campuses presents via a One Letran Research Conference and ‘ARMMS’ (Assisting Researches Through Mentor Mentee Relationship) that makes it possible for faculty members from Letran Manila to
mentor faculty members or researchers from Manaoag and for researchers from Calamba, to mentor researchers from Bataan, respectively.

By all means, the cluster also intends to pursue the revival of the research journal ‘Brillar’ for One Letran through the project ‘ROPE’ which stands for Research Output Publication for Empowerment.

“That’s going to be the first ever issue of Brillar, we are targeting five articles for this year, and increasing siya per year until 2023,” discussed Mariano to The LANCE.


CHALLENGES DISCERNED

Developments from the aspects of Dominican school leadership and management, financial management, marketing and promotions, and even campus ministry are yet to be explored in a wider scale.

Dr. Cabral cited some of the challenges in integration which includes human resources organizational structure, organizational culture, and understanding and perception.

Planning Director Castillo also mentioned that immediately coming up with a system of organizational structure will not be easy due to the peculiarities posed by the schools’ different legal personalities.

“Ang nakikita kong challenging diyan is more of designing a common One Letran organizational structure to manage the entire system, kasi may mga implications,” Castillo said.

This is underscored by Dr. Cabral in the Address as she mentioned the same challenge arising from the fact that the cluster members’ positions for each Letran schools are parallel but not equivalent.

She also identified specific challenges in human resources such as the qualifications and competencies, levels of awareness, attitudes during the implementation process as it was brought up that not everybody is open to collaboration and subordination of self-interest.

Distance-wise, the different clusters agree that communication with each other is also a challenge, “Hindi ito yung tipong kapag gusto naming mag-meeting, after one hour, mag-kakasama na kami, may sinusunod silang schedule, may schedule din kami, so ayun, challenge din yun,” Rev. Fr. Besa said.

“Para hindi naman mahirapan yung iba, say for example, for March meeting, we have the meeting here, sumunod, we have it in Calamba, we have in Manaoag, umiikot siya,” Mariano shared.

Naturally, inadequacy of financial resources is also a challenge especially for those clusters that should not be subject to budgeting constraints.

To address challenges in budget management, the Research cluster works on project ‘BUTO’ (Building Up Trust to One Letran) where each of the four campuses will have to give a certain seed money for the funding of their cluster’s projects and programs.


GROWING ADVANTAGE

Advantages of the One Letran system were also discussed during Dr. Cabral’s address such as the likeliness of the integration to develop professional growth and promote more equitable resources.

Currently, despite of having no definite committee specifically designated for marketing and promotions, branding was also mentioned in the Address as one of the possible gains that may be available to all other Letran schools in the system.

“In fairness, ang feedback ng [Letran] Manaoag, when they changed the name, dumami ang enrollees,” Castillo said in an interview with The LANCE.

“Pag nakita ‘yan at nag-apply ka ng work mo, graduate ng Letran, so may bearing yan, ‘diba? Nabboost ka rin talaga, yung confidence namin, that we are now part of the Letran system,” shared Dr. Cabral; quoting one of the interviewees in her research.

Castillo also cited how the One Letran System may contribute to the convenience of the students.

“Ta-transfer ka, very smooth kung One Letran, eventually na-realize mo, gusto mo lumipat, edi wala nang masyadong problema sa crediting ganun, kasi hindi na dapat, dahil One Letran na.”

“Ang hope namin dito, kapag naka-punta ka ng ibang campuses, like for example, punta ka ng [Letran] Manaoag, pareho yung makikita mo, ‘yung structure, hindi ka maninibago,” Rev. Fr. Besa added.


TAKING THE LEAP

Addressing the challenges that emerged during the initial stage of integration is challenging in itself and for this reason, mechanisms to further develop the One Letran system are still in the works.

The different clusters maintained that the vision is for academic programs not to compete but rather complement each other which is why cluster members are generous in sharing resources, manpower, materials, finances, expertise, competencies and the like.

“We let all the Letran system shine,” said Dr. Cabral; quoting one of her research interviewees.

Mariano also shared his visions for the development of the research cluster for the next few years, “We actually have a five-year developmental plan where at the end of the five years, Letran research cluster of One Letran will be one name to reckon with in terms of research.”

As such, Dr. Cabral specified that the key for the successful implementation of One Letran rests on the people themselves, “It is not only the environment that is important, but it is the people’s attitude that is of greater importance, all the great vision and plans will come to naught if
people do not believe, commit, and be passionate in seeking the vision through.”

“One Letran is in a journey that is not only physically excruciating but an inter-generational drive towards becoming one,” she concluded.

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