CAS Dean’s Legacy Series- Harnessing the full potential of CAS through the leadership of Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo
CAS Dean’s Legacy Series: Harnessing the full potential of CAS through the leadership of Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo
by Aileen Rose B. Lanaca

The years 2008 and 2009 were historical for both UP System and UP Los Baños. In 2008, the UP System celebrated its centenary, while UPLB continued the celebration the following year, 2009 being its 100th year.

Through the leadership of Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo, the College of Arts and Sciences proudly showcased its contributions and accomplishments during the centennial celebration of both UP and UPLB.

Sulong, the sixth episode of CASaysayan: Deans’ Legacy Series, takes a trip down memory lane as Dr. Raymundo, together with Assoc. Prof. Alleli Ester C. Domingo, Dr. Mabini DG. Dizon, and Dr. Cleofas R. Cervancia, recall their experiences and accomplishments during the former’s deanship. Dr. Dennis Gupa and Asst. Prof. Rowena Cardenas also participated in this series. This episode was written and produced by teams from the UP Rural High School and the Department of Human Kinetics.

Dr. Raymundo comes from the province of La Union. She finished her BS in Agriculture at the UP College of Agriculture in 1966. After graduation, she was accepted as a research instructor at UPLB. She subsequently sought and was granted an East-West Center scholarship to study for her MS in Plant Pathology at the University of Hawaii.

After completing the degree, she returned to UPLB and taught microbiology and plant pathology at the College of Science and Humanities, now the College of Arts and Sciences. Not long after, she pursued her PhD in Plant Pathology (Bacteriology) at the University of Illinois and later took postdoctoral studies in microbial and molecular genetics at different institutions.

She served as director of the Institute of Biological Sciences for seven years and as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for five years. Dr. Raymundo achieved the highest professional acclaim as a researcher and professor when she was elected to the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the nation’s highest science policy-making body.

Dr. Raymundo served as CAS dean for two terms, from 2006 to 2011. She had planned on serving for one term only. However, CAS constituents filed an appeal for her to extend for another term. During this time, she was reminded of the phrase she encountered when she first accepted the deanship: “I am only one; I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. I will not refuse to do something I can do.” Thus, she accepted the nomination for the second term.

Dr. Cervancia, now a Professor Emeritus at CAS, who served as chair of the UPLB Bee Program and director of the Institute of Biological Sciences when Dr. Raymundo was dean, recalled how the latter was always on top of the day-to-day concerns of CAS and was able to lead viable and challenging programs that were relevant to national and international interests.

During the UP and UPLB centenary, CAS took the opportunity to implement projects and programs that highlighted the potential of the different fields of the college while upholding UP’s call for honor and excellence, including the Southern Tagalog Scholars and Artists Festival for Science and Mathematics, Makiling Sarswela, CAS Centennial Memorabilia, and Alumni Dinner Concert.

It was also during her term when the first UPLB CAS Student-Faculty Research Conference was conducted. Assoc. Prof. Domingo, associate dean during the second term of Dr. Raymundo, recalled that Dr. Raymundo and Dr. Zita Albacea, who herself became CAS dean, conceptualized the SFRC in 2008 to strengthen the programs, goals, and competencies of both the faculty and the students. The conference provided an avenue for the students to present research findings, initiate inter-unit collaborative research, and motivate students to undertake research and present the results.

Dr. Dizon, the college secretary during Dr. Raymundo’s first term, looked back at how CAS then undertook various revisions of curricular offerings and General Education courses to keep up with the needs of the times. She also mentioned that new GE courses were instituted during this time.

One of the highlights of Dr. Raymundo’s term was the fusion of arts and sciences, which originated from the faculty of the Humanities Department and was adopted by the College as a program of distinctive excellence. CAS became known for the use of performing arts in promoting science.

Dr. Gupa, former head of the UPLB Fusion of Arts and Sciences Program and now a faculty member teaching theater and film at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, also joined the conversation. Through their efforts in encouraging interdisciplinary thinking, several theatrical shows were produced showcasing the fusion of arts and sciences. An example is “Bagong Kristo,” a math-humanities collaborative effort.

Dr. Raymundo is also known for pursuing an enabling environment for the CAS constituents. She lobbied for various professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, encouraging rewards and recognition. She also ensured regular strategic planning workshops for unit heads which fostered camaraderie and built a strong college workforce. The student welfare was also accounted for since she initiated holding a regular meeting with the CAS Student Council to address issues and concerns. Additionally, several infrastructures were built and rehabilitated during her term.

Dr. Raymundo also inspired the Department of Human Kinetics to develop the wellness program “100 Steps to Health: Centennial Community Aerobics.” According to Asst. Prof. Cardenas, the wellness program exists to this day and has been contributing to the total wellness of the UPLB Community.

Dr. Raymundo’s leadership, commitment, and compassion continue to be a source of inspiration at CAS, for she has proven that as the sun rises over the mountain, the college will continue to grow to its full potential.

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