Response of the Board of Trustees on the issues arising from the Commencement Address of MVP
SPECIAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING
11 April 2010
The Board of Trustees met on April 11, 2010 to deliberate on the issues arising from the commencement addresses of its Chairman, Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, on March 26 & 27, 2010. The Board reviewed the history of the case, from the writing of the speeches to the posting of the blogs, from the response of Mr. Pangilinan to the reply of Fr. Nebres issued on April 3, 2010. It kept in mind as well the concerned statements from faculty, students, staff, administrators and the public at large.
The Board came to the following conclusions:
1. The Board considers the matter of plagiarism very serious, particularly for an academic institution. It recognizes that Mr. Pangilinan considered this a very serious matter that has caused him deep embarrassment and pain. With him, the Ateneo community has struggled with the issue and engaged in a deep reflection on its own values of honesty and integrity.
2. In its discussion, the Board kept in mind the Catholic moral tradition which for culpability considers not just the seriousness of the matter but also whether there is full awareness and consent. It recognizes that the matter is serious, but that the plagiarism happened without full awareness on the part of Mr. Pangilinan.
3. At the same time, the Board acknowledges with deep respect Mr. Pangilinan’s immediate and full acceptance of responsibility and apology for this mistake. This is particularly admirable, because in acting in this manner, he spared others from this responsibility. This is a rare example of humility, selflessness, and leadership in our midst.
4. The Board accepts Mr. Pangilinan’s apology as the appropriate response to this unfortunate incident.
5. However, the unanimous decision of the Board is not to accept Mr. Pangilinan’s resignation. It expresses full confidence in his leadership as Chairman.
6. On the matter of the honorary degree conferred on Mr. Pangilinan, the reasons for the conferment are articulated in the citation. These are his visionary leadership, his love of country and service and commitment to our people, his generous self-giving to our country, the Ateneo de Manila and many other institutions. These remain unchanged.
In conclusion, the Board of Trustees asks Mr. Pangilinan to please reconsider his resignation from the Ateneo Board of Trustees. There is so much to be done, not just for the Ateneo, but for our country and people. His leadership is needed today more than ever.
Batch 2010's Official Response to Manuel V. Pangilinan
Dear Mr. Pangilinan,
Graduation is an event marked by people overflowing with triumph and euphoria, with some hint of sadness. It is a time of hanging on to the fond memories of friendship and lessons learned; letting go of the bad things which hinder one’s own and others’ growth; looking forward to the future as the graduates face a brand new chapter in their lives in entering the “real” world; and going with love because it is true that the world would die without it.
Just a day after that momentous event, the Graduation of SOH and SOSS Sesquicentennial Batch 2010, however, I and the rest of my batchmates still in the dark were greeted with the news of other people comparing parts of your commencement address with other previously given addresses by (as far as I know) J. K. Rowling, Barack Obama, Conan O’ Brien and Oprah Winfrey. People were voicing out views, comments and reactions all over the place, specifically on the social networking site Facebook. They ranged from the most negative and severe, the impartial and reflective, to the most supportive and optimistic on your behalf. The enormity with which the incident blew out of proportion, significantly because of media coverage and the internet, seemed astounding in the days that followed. This was then followed with the immediate release of your public apology and you owning up (and taking full and sole responsibility at that) to the mistake many of your detractors have maliciously chosen to point out, highlight, and emphasize. For that alone, you already have our full respect and admiration. Father Ben replied consequently, and asked that you reconsider your decision, after he accepted your apology with much care and understanding.
In view of all these and upon consultation, Batch 2010 would like you to know that like Father Ben, we understand that this incident has caused much personal embarrassment and pain on your part. And also with Father Ben, the Batch accepts your earnest apology wholeheartedly, and also utterly respects the fact that you do take full responsibility, even though the whole thing was not entirely of your doing.
Also like Father Ben, the Batch would have to disagree with your decision of retiring from your duties in the Ateneo, especially for the Ateneo community. The Batch recognizes that your response to what has become a sort of fiasco for waiting vultures was apt for a man such as you, and we can only imagine your distress throughout this whole unfortunate event – enough that you would claim that “wala na akong mukhang maihaharap.” Speaking in behalf of the alumni and undergraduates of the university, we indeed recognize that you are very much valued by the Ateneo community; so much so that it is believed we are fully equipped in moving on, learning, and going forward from this whole regrettable occurrence. And enumerating everything you have contributed to the Ateneo would be futile and overwhelming, to say the least; hence, I will refrain from doing so here.
As you must have felt that the events which unfolded were out of your hands, we too believe that your decision in the end is also beyond our grasp – it is between you, Father Ben, and the Board of Trustees. It has always been an honor that a man such as your magnanimity, innovation, dedication, and ardent spirit chose to be prominently of service to and for the Ateneo; and we sincerely hope you continue gracing us with that honor despite whatever ultimate decision you make. You, together with other Ateneo visionaries, were given the gift of having the capacity to change lives – lives which work and thrive from being inspired and motivated by you – through your life right now and beyond. Now, more than ever, we need someone who can show us how to deal with challenges, the way you have handled this situation with courage and utmost humility.
Gregorio Ramon A. Tingson
Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola
Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila
Academic Year 2009-2010
Ateneo de Manila University Batch 2010