The University of Santo Tomas formally opened the Academic Year 2021-2022 with the traditional Misa de Apertura (Opening Mass) on August 2, 2021, at the Santísimo Rosario Parish Church-UST (UST Chapel).
UST Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., served as the main presider with the Dominican Fathers as concelebrants. The event was livestreamed on the official UST Facebook page.
His Excellency Archbishop Charles John Brown, KC*HS, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, who was originally scheduled to preside over the Mass, sent a message that Fr. Ang read before his homily. Only virtual Masses have been allowed in Metro Manila due to the stricter quarantine status.
In his message, the representative of Pope Francis in the Philippines greeted the Thomasian community and commended the University’s “411 years of history, in which you have striven to put into practice the words of your University motto: Veritas in caritate (Truth in Charity).” He also emphasized that the mission of a Catholic university is to “see the truth and communicate the truth.”
Archbishop Brown encouraged the Thomasian community to closely follow Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Apostolic Nuncio ended his message by declaring the academic year 2021-2022 of the University open.
Meanwhile, in his homily, the Father Rector echoed the message of Archbishop Brown, saying that, “The statement that we are only as good as our struggles and weaknesses is totally a lie because the truth is we are much powerful and stronger than we believe with the help of the Holy Spirit.”
“We are empowered to enliven others. There is nothing more powerful than a community that has renewed itself. Transformed people can transform other people. May we be enlightened to know the truth and kindled to practice Veritas in caritate,” Fr. Ang said.
Following the Mass was the Discurso de Apertura, the inaugural academic lecture traditionally delivered before faculty members and students of the University.
For this year, the Dean of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (FMS) Dr. Ma. Lourdes D. Maglinao presented the academic lecture titled “Leading Change in a 150-year-old Medical School: Overcoming the Challenges of a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) World amidst the Twenty-first-Century Pandemic”.
In her lecture, Dean Maglinao shared the challenge of producing doctors in the midst of a pandemic. She described the ongoing challenge of prioritizing safety, health, wellness, and the continued delivery of quality medical education in the face of economic repercussions and the surge in cases, which resulted in difficulty in deploying clerks for core clinical training and data gathering.
However, even with these challenges, the Dean commended the University for its forward thinking, saying that, “As part of the University’s ecosystem, the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery benefitted from the vision of the past and present University officials who had the foresight to invest in educational media and technology.”
Even before the pandemic, the Blackboard Learning Management System in 2003 and the Rapid eLearning Training Program in 2012 retooled the education workforce, which allowed FMS and the different academic units to successfully navigate the enriched virtual mode of instruction necessitated by the pandemic.
“Despite the unexpected impositions of lockdowns, we were able to anchor technological solutions to ensure continuity of education,” said Maglinao. She highlighted the UST Cloud Campus as “the cornerstone upon which the weight of the UST education system rests.”
Some of the learning experiences translated into virtual medium are telemedicine patient encounters and simulated medical rounds that aid the development of “webside manner”, virtual skills assessment, ePortfolios, and online oral revalida, among others.
The Dean also emphasized the Faculty’s many achievements in spite of the rapid transition from in-person to online teaching. The pioneer class from the Learning-Enhanced Accelerated Program for Medicine (LEAPMed) recently graduated, all 76 of them with Latin honors. With this resounding success, the CHED Office of Programs and Standards Development conveyed “that the LEAPMed program may be the model template of all accelerated learning programs for medicine in the country.”
Meanwhile, the Organ Donation Innovative Strategies for Southeast Asia (ODISSeA) project, a specialized post-graduate certificate program in organ donation, tapped FMS as one of only eight Southeast Asian beneficiary universities to offer a training program for transplant specialists designed by the University of Barcelona.
In addition, the Center for Pain Medicine and Thomasian Audiology continued to be the prime movers in assisting the government’s hearing health and prevention of deafness programs through pioneering research, technical assistance, and capacity building.
FMS has also partnered with the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, for the Master of Public Health (International) (MPHI) degree program. Scholarship grants from the Access and Competitiveness through Internationalization of Higher Education (ACT-IHE) were also given for the MPHI through CHED.
Under Maglinao’s leadership, the Doctor of Medicine program was given a perfect score in graduate employability, and high scores in completion, student satisfaction, and accreditation in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) world subject rankings and the QS Stars Specialist Criteria in June 2021.
“The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery remains unstoppable and will continue to be the epitome of excellence in medical education. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to topple us in many ways, but with our indomitable spirit, we prevail,” said the Dean.
Maglinao, an accelerated graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Biology degree program at the UST College of Science, obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree from UST, her post-graduate internship and residency training at the UST Hospital. She took her post-residency in stereotactic radiosurgery at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia and post-residency in minimally invasive neurosurgery at the Singapore General Hospital. Concurrently, she is the Chief of the Neurosurgery Section of both FMS and USTH.