The 4 AVPs of the Mission Integration Cluster: Their thoughts and perceptions about their new roles
30 Nov 2022 | Dianne C. Yumol, 2 BS Applied Mathematics-Master in Data Science
In its continuous bid to strengthen Ignatian formation and social engagement in the university community, the Office of the President of Ateneo de Manila University, appointed four (4) assistant vice presidents (AVPs) for the Mission Integration Cluster. These AVPs are tasked to develop and implement a cohesive and holistic formation program across all academic and administrative units of Ateneo that is rooted on Ignatian spirituality, its core values and principles, and to deepen a culture of mission among members of the university community. Four functional areas that are also linked to the university’s strategic priority areas will be the focus of the MI Cluster. These are (1) Ignatian Spirituality Formation, (2) Student Activities and Leadership Formation, (3) Social Development, Environment, and Community Engagement, and (4) Health, Care, and Well-Being. Each of the AVPs head one functional area and report directly to the Vice President for Mission Integration, Rizalino D Rivera.
Meet the new AVPs, namely, Rizalina T Simpas for Ignatian Spirituality Formation; Marie Joy R Salita for Student Activities and Leadership Formation; Dr Leland Joseph R Dela Cruz for Social Development, Environment, and Community Engagement; and Dr Norman Dennis E Marquez for Health, Care, and Well-Being.
The AVPs have all been with the Ateneo for a good number of years in their respective capacities as administrators, faculty members, and formators. They are no strangers to many of us, and many may have even met, known or gotten acquainted with them at one time or another. Still, let us get to know a bit more about them and what they look forward to or what excites them in their new roles.
RIZALINA T SIMPAS
AVP for Ignatian Spirituality Formation
Rina was the Director of the Loyola Schools Office of Campus Ministry for the past 8 1/2 years. Aside from being an administrator, Rina is also a campus minister and a teacher. As a campus minister, she has been doing campus ministry work for more than 2 decades—20 years in Ateneo and 3 years in PennState. Her passions are in formation ministry, spiritual direction and accompaniment, and teaching. As a teacher, she is connected with the Department of Theology on part-time and teaches THEO 131 from time to time.
Spirituality has been a major anchor. As AVP, her scope of work on Ignatian Spirituality Formation encompasses the whole university community, and the desire is to move towards a more cohesive and holistic formation program.
Since her youth, Rina shared that a good, faithful and generous God has journeyed with her, and she hopes to contribute to forming Ateneans who know, in mind and heart, the truth of God's love and live from that love. In her role as AVP, Rina said it is edifying to meet campus leaders and formators who are so dedicated to the work of education and formation. “Such good people, good souls who do much good for others, for God, for society”, she says.
Tapping into and gathering people's gifts and putting these into the service of God and others are essential in our way of proceeding. She wants to listen more and find out about the various initiatives and the many good things being done by colleagues and students in the university; to care for leaders who themselves shepherd others; to bring people together, their vision and their gifts in helping form Ateneans who are inspired by the faith and spirit and committed to a life of mission.
MARIE JOY R SALITA
AVP for Student Activities and Leadership Formation
Joy was the Loyola Schools’ Associate Dean for Student and Administrative Services from 2015 until this year when she joined the MI Cluster. As ADSAS, her work centered on creating synergies among various offices that take care of student and administrative services at the Loyola Schools. Early on, she started as a non-teaching staff who handled training and development work for the LS non-teaching and maintenance staff, with whom she worked closely. In the last 25 years, she rose in rank and in leadership positions, and in every restructuring of offices, she found herself in a journey of continuous learning.
Her new role as AVP for SALF is a coming home to one of her heart’s deepest delights and desires: service and leadership formation. In fact, she is close to completing her PhD in Leadership Studies, major in Organizational Development. She said that God’s spirit is leading her; through this spiral of growth where “things are showing up as a woven tapestry.” All her previous roles were interwoven to this moment and she continues to find meaning in the mission enlivened by Ignatian spirituality.
Joy said the task ahead may be daunting but she is excited to meet student leaders and formators from Basic Education to Higher Education whose generosity and humility are life-giving. Her new role also gives her opportunities to be present with people and immerse in situations on the ground and these animate her sense of service to the Ateneo community.
DR LELAND JOSEPH R DELA CRUZ
AVP for Social Development, Environment, and Community Engagement
Leland was the Loyola Schools’ Associate Dean for Student Formation from 2019 to 2022 and former Director of the Office for Social Concern and Involvement from 2013 to 2019. He is an associate professor of the Development Studies Program and served as its director from 1999 to 2014. He also was the Loyola Schools’ first Coordinator for Faculty Social Involvement from 2006 to 2010 where he laid the foundations for institutionalizing service-learning. He continues to teach despite his full-time administrative duties.
The restructuring has narrowed down the spheres of concern he oversees. As Associate Dean for Student Formation, Leland was in charge of overseeing social and spiritual formation, placement including internship, student activities, athletics, physical education, and discipline. The new position allows him to focus on social development and environment, but the scope of work is now the whole university instead of just the Loyola Schools.
Leland believes that there is already a lot that various units of the university are already doing in terms of social development and environment. But a lot of these initiatives are not well-known outside the university or even within the university. What excites him about his new role at this time is meeting and talking with people about their social development and environment initiatives and figuring out ways to support, enhance, and promote these initiatives. Leland has no intention of stealing the limelight from all these initiatives but sees his role as nudging these initiatives into the limelight. The university-wide scope of his mandate also allows him to figure out ways to synergize efforts on the part of various units.
DR NORMAN DENNIS E MARQUEZ
AVP for Health, Care, and Well-Being
Dr. Sio, as known to many, has been in Ateneo for 28 years. He was the director of the Health Sciences Program of the School of Science and Engineering from 2006-2018. In 2019, he was appointed University Physician to address occupational health and safety for employees. In addition to his faculty and administrative duties, he serves as the executive director of the Tulong-Dunong Foundation.
In his earlier years, he wanted to be a pulmonologist with his own clinic, until Ateneo accepted him as a member of the faculty. He was a part-time faculty member for five years before he was asked to help out with the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health when the school opened in 2007. He was part of the Department of Biology from 1994 to 2004 when he moved to focus on the Health Sciences Program.
He claims that his most difficult time as University Physician was during the lockdown. He juggled many challenges that included attending to the well-being of dormers who were isolated in campus and adjusting to the resumption of onsite classes with the opening of the university clinic. Work hours were being adjusted based on demand.
As AVP, Dr. Sio realizes his responsibility for integrating all health initiatives of the university, a scope much broader than his role as university physician whose primary responsibility was the health of employees. Aside from the university clinic, he oversees the programs and services of other health services and clinics, the gender-related offices, and the guidance and counseling programs and services.
Fresh in the role, he wants to start internally because “you can't give what you don't have”, Dr. Sio said. He mentioned that there is a need to build a health system that is representative of the health system he aspires for people—not so much in specific services but in promoting wellness, fundamental understanding of health, appreciation of health issues, strategies for health intervention: “When principles and foundations of health care are well-aligned and integrated, we can clearly define where to start aiding in the larger sector of society and how they can act on issues.”
We thank Rina, Joy, Leland, and Dr. Sio for their magnanimity of heart in accepting their new roles that come with the demands and challenges of mission integration. They are magis in spirit, stewards of formation who lead us in flight for the greater glory of God. To them go our gratitude, support, cooperation, and prayers!