Four Atenean profs conferred the title of Professor Emeritus at the 2023 Gaudeamus
21 Jul 2023
The Ateneo community celebrated the work of four esteemed professors at the recent Professor Emeritus Conferment, held Wednesday, 19 July 2023, at the Escaler Hall.
For the first time since 2019, the University conferred this prestigious rank to four teachers, scholars, and culture-bearers in Higher Education: Fr Adolfo Dacanay SJ of the Theology Department, Dr Cristina Montiel of Psychology, Fr Bienvenido Nebres SJ of Mathematics, and Dr Emma Porio of Sociology and Anthropology.
The event, aptly titled Gaudeamus—a Latin word meaning gathering or merry-making, or “may we rejoice”—honored the professors, each of whom have made an indelible mark in their respective fields. It was attended by the honorees’ families, friends, and colleagues, with citations read by Fr Jose Cruz SJ and Dr Catherine Vistro-Yu.
The rank of Professor Emeritus is conferred on a Professor who has reached formal retirement, selected based on their “distinguished academic record and University service.” Each of the honorees have been in service of the University for many years, whether as teachers, researchers, or administrators.
“[F]ew there are who manage to be both feared and loved. Fr Adolfo Dacanay SJ is one of those,” reads Fr Dacanay’s citation. Fr Aydee, as he is known in the community, responded in the way that he is known to do: with much wit, humor, and an air of reverence. He’s been with Ateneo since 1981, retiring in 2020.
In an interview published in the journal Perspectives in the Arts and Humanities Asia, the professor and canon lawyer said: “Somewhere in my professional career, I must have made a choice to be first a teacher and only subordinately a scholar or a researcher. . . If I were to live my life over, I will be a teacher again, with one modification: I’d be a better teacher.”
A leading expert in peace psychology, Dr Montiel has over 40 years of experience as a researcher, teacher, and activist. “Her persuasive influence is etched in [her students’] minds and hearts; she is well respected, her passion translating to ethical perfection,” reads Dr Montiel’s citation.
She joined the Psychology Department of Ateneo in the 1970s, during a tumultuous time in the political landscape of the Philippines. A writer, Dr Montiel capped off her response with a poem she wrote, inspired by her transition from public activism to quiet scholarship: “The rigid line succumbs / contorted and askew / accepting strength from friends / as color changes hue. In joyful dance, curve I / midst silence beyond bark / as exclamation point bends into question mark.”
“Emma Porio’s prodigious achievements add up to a farm of academic delights,” Dr Porio’s citation begins, written by fellow Professor Emeritus Dr Ricardo Abad of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. With a body of work that extends beyond Ateneo, Dr Porio is “one of the most highly cited social scientists in the Philippines”—her efforts in climate change, gender studies, and social action varied and prolific. In her response, she makes mention of the people she is most thankful for: colleagues, friends, and family.
The final honoree that evening was Fr Bienvenido Nebres SJ—National Scientist, teacher, and former University President. “For more than half a century, Fr Ben’s impact has spread beyond math and science,” writes Mathematics professor Dr Queena Lee-Chua in Fr Nebres’ citation. In his response, Fr Nebres emphasized the importance of growth, and thanked the Ateneo community for this singular honor. “It has really been a privilege to serve the Ateneo de Manila for so many years and to have built our nation in teaching, in leadership,” he said.
University President Fr Roberto Yap SJ delivered the evening’s closing remarks, once more shining light on the four honorees and the work they’ve done through the decades. “With this honor,” he began, “we recognize your accomplishments, contributions, and the impact each of you has had on Ateneo, the larger community, and the world. Your words and actions embody the University’s mission of excellence in teaching and learning, research, service, and formation.”
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