On December 21, 2020, the University of Santo Tomas administration held the groundbreaking ceremonies for the UST-Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong Innovation Center, the second structure to rise in the UST Sta. Rosa Campus.
Named after one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs of the country, Jollibee Foods Corporation founder and Chemical Engineering alumnus Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong, the innovation center will be the hub of discoveries and inventions in new home of Thomasians in Southern Luzon.
Making Thomasian education available to more Filipinos
In his opening remarks, Vice-Rector fr. Isaias D. Tiongco, O.P., JCD said that consistent with the vision of the UST Sta. Rosa campus, the new innovation center will be a step in the right direction toward the goal of bringing Thomasian education to a greater number of Filipinos.
The center, fr. Tiongco said, will help UST to be “ready to meet challenges brought about by changing tides in education.” As a higher education institution, fr. Tiongco said that UST “can’t afford to stay put and be content with the way things are. We have to traverse similar trajectories as our counterparts abroad and even go beyond parameters to make education similar to new models, if not more advanced.
Giving back to society
In her message, Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation Academician Maribel G. Nonato, PhD said that the new innovation center is a concrete step toward the vision of “bringing research back to society,” something that had its incipience during the Rectorship of fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., PhD. “In 2019, we launched the DOST-TomasINNO Center, which is a smaller version of the center we will have here. This is a good first step in making the UST Sta. Rosa UST’s innovation-driven campus,” whose outputs, generated by the different sectors of UST, will redound to the benefit of society.
Nonato also hailed the project as a good example of alumni partnerships that UST has, calling the center as “a Thomasian leader’s dream fulfilled by a Thomasian alumnus’s aspirations.” Nonato hoped that this will be replicated in the other developments in the 40-hectare campus.
A smart, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth
In his message read by Engineering Dean Philipina A. Marcelo, PhD, Jollibee Foods Corporation Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong, PhD (hons.) said that the innovation center recognizes the critical role that innovation plays in economic growth, which should be “smart, inclusive, and sustainable.”
Reflecting on his own journey as an entrepreneur, Tan Caktiong said that “some of the most important lessons were learned through failures,” which he recognized as inevitable but should never deter the Thomasian community from achieving our collective goal of embodying the Thomasian core values.
The three-storey structure was designed by Casas+ Architects, whose CEO, Ar. Carmelo Casas, said that the design’s philosophy paid homage to UST’s timelessness. As such, the building, which will use state-of-the-art technology and materials, will be a flexible edifice whose features are adaptable and sustainable.
During the groundbreaking ceremonies, the time capsule containing a copy of the building’s plans, a photo of UST officials and Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong, a photo during the kickoff meeting for the project, and a UST calendar was buried on the construction site.
University officials were led by fr. Tiongco, who was accompanied by Dr. Nonato, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Cheryl R. Peralta, DrPH, Vice-Rector for Finance fr. Roberto L. Luanzon, Jr., O.P., SThD, DL, and Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs fr. Pablo T. Tiong, O.P. The ceremonies and the project management will be headed by Rev. fr. Dexter A. Austria, O.P., SThD, Director of the Facilities Management Office.
The building is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2022.