05312024.Web.Banner Fr Mars P Tan SJ

(Fr Mars P. Tan SJ)

This afternoon, I will announce to you something which I have already shared with you in our GS Convocation last year, and which I know many of you have already heard in the past year in varying levels of information. In a way, this is just a repeat of what I said already, and to present this new endeavor officially.

This piece of news could have been announced years ago but the XU Board of Trustees and the University management were very careful not to do it hastily. After several years of thorough reviews of the past performances of the GS and careful study on the opportunities that would open to us, in March 2020, the Board of Trustees, the highest governing body of the University, finally decided to consolidate the XUGS Campuses of Macasandig and in Pueblo. The BOT then turned to the University management, care of the new University President, to start planning for the consolidation as soon as possible. But the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, so the GS Consolidation planning had to be set aside temporarily.

Thus, the good news today is the One XUGS Consolidation Project (#OneXUGS), which will be carried out beginning in April this year and will be implemented in phases until 2023 or even beyond. The transition will not be immediate for our teachers and pupils because we still have to follow the protocols of the government. As for this school year (2020-2021) and the next (SY2021-2022), all classes will be online, so there is no need to transfer yet to the Pueblo campus. For the parents and guardians, the conduct of face-to-face classes for SY2022-2023 on the Pueblo campus will only be allowed when permitted by the proper government agencies and upon careful evaluation by the university administration.

In line with this consolidation, we will conduct a series of small group discussions to consult the members of the XUGS community, including the parents and alumni, on how to do this the right way. There is a committee that is tasked to take the lead in the planning. But it won’t just be the work of the Committee alone, we want you all to be involved because the new consolidated XUGS is your new project, your new school, your new home.

It is important to understand that the GS consolidation is not just a mere physical transfer of the grade school from Macasandig to the Pueblo campus. But it will be a reimagined and reinvented XUGS - your new home that happens to be in Pueblo because that is the available space for us.

Please allow me to cite the main reasons why the GS consolidation is good news:

  1. GS Consolidation is strategic. Strategy pertains to long-term planning to have the advantage not just for the present but more importantly in the years to come.  If we think only of the now and maybe the next year or two years from now, we would not see the real advantages and the importance of consolidating the two campuses. But the XU BOT and the management do not think on short-term basis. Strategic planning forces us to think 5 to 30 years ahead or even beyond. It makes us imagine: How do we want XUGS to look like 10 to 30 years from now?  Do we like to see part of the XUGS to remain in Macasandig while the Pueblo campus will become the new state-of-the-art campus of the basic education units? The JHS is there, and so is the SHS and the other part of the GS. It has the track oval, the 7-lane swimming pool, the Xavier Ateneo Sports Centre, and other new infrastructures like the SHS campus. The university aims to fully integrate a unified XU Grade School into the Basic Education Complex in Pueblo by SY2022-2023.

    What is this strategic planning for you, our GS faculty, staff, and administrators? This means that you are part of the strategic planning because we are one GS community. We cannot leave you forever in Macasandig. We do not make a strategic plan for one part of the GS only. The One XUGS Consolidation forms part of the strategic plan of the university, in line with its educational mission and vision of “becoming a leading ASEAN university forming leaders of character by 2033.” In line with 21st-century learning, the consolidation will pave the way for “Innovation” of the XU Grade School in the areas of curriculum and instruction, human resources, physical facilities, support services, and administration.
  1. GS Consolidation is sustainable. Sustainability pertains to the continued operation of the grade school education unit not just for the next year but in the many, many years to come. But you can sustain only this if you have the means and the important resources, like people and finances to continue the successful year-to-year operation. We do not have a problem with human resources because you are here and you all are competent and dedicated to our mission of education. However, our big challenge is our financial condition in Macasandig because we have not been doing well in the area of enrollment for several years. I tell you no one among us here is at fault; it’s just the effect on us by a confluence of unfavorable national and local factors. If we continue our not-so-good financial operations as a separate campus, then it will be doubly difficult for us to continue beyond 5 years, at least, I believe. 

    What does GS sustainability mean for you, our faculty, staff, and administrators? We sustain operations as a GS academic unit not just for our pupils and students but also for you. We want to continue not just for a few years from now but for many years ahead.
  1. Consolidation paves the way to a more systematic and organized GS.  The XUGS will be on one campus so better systematic process and coordination among you as one GS community is ensured. There are fewer travels and movements when transacting businesses with one another and less likely to have miscommunication or absence of communication among offices and units because everyone will just be on one campus.  But all these do not automatically happen, we all have to work together to translate the consolidation gains into more systematic and efficient GS operations.

    What is this systematic and organized GS for you, our staff, administrators, and faculty? It will be to your advantage because administering, teaching, and working in one unified campus will be much easier for everyone.

I’ve given you the real advantages of the GS consolidation that we in the BOT and the administration have seen and would like you also to consider and accept.  But I am not naïve to the fact that for you there are still other important things to look at and consider in the GS consolidation.

First, the memories of your many years in the GS Macasandig campus that we won’t be able to bring with us completely to the new campus. I know that because I am a Jesuit, a missionary who leaves behind people and places after my mission. I’ve left behind people and beautiful memories in the past, so many that I could not count them; and in every departure, something dies within us and pain is real and haunting sometimes. I believe that you would also have that experience of the pain of being separated from a place you consider home for many, many years. We in the administration recognize that and we would like to work with you on how we can manage well this potential emotional impact on us. Each of us can share what we are truly grateful for to have spent years of our lives in the Macasandig campus. We say #SalamatXUGSMacasandig in meaningful ways before we bid our goodbyes. As of this time, there is no definite plan yet on what to do of the campus (other higher education units have also expressed interest in it), but we will be subjecting it to further studies and evaluations so we can optimize the next use of the Macasandig campus.

Second, your jobs, your future, and that of your family.  Will all of you continue to have jobs after the consolidation? I have to be straightforward with my answer, I do not want to promise because there are challenges that are beyond my control like the continuing impacts of the pandemic and the dwindling GS enrollment.  That is another reason for the GS consolidation – to increase our enrolment hoping to follow the trend of the GS Pueblo. But I will do my best to keep all of you.  There will be a committee to carefully plan the assignment and redeployment of some of you with the goal to save jobs for all. I would also like to clarify that the evaluations will be for both Macasandig and Pueblo personnel to make up the unified set of administrators, faculty, and staff.

Third, there will be other concerns but I will leave it to you to raise them during the question-and-answer part of this convocation. The President Council and the committee on GS Consolidation are all here to help me answer your questions and take note of your suggestions. I also urge you to communicate your concerns through formal channels so we can all address them properly and we can incorporate them into our plans.

Finally, I ask you not to rejoice yet over this good news, it might be too early when we still have to grieve first for the separation from a place we have dearly called a home. I ask you not to react right away but to give some serious thought about it so that we can all see clearly the advantages that outweigh the challenges. I ask you not to be afraid but to trust me and the leadership of this university. We will journey together, work together, and make the GS consolidation a reality in our own time, reinventing and recreating a new GS. Thank you. May God bless all of us in this new endeavor. 

(Given at the XU Grade School Online Convocation, March 12, 2021)