BRO. Raymundo Belardo Suplido, FSC, PhD, is the 23rd president of De La Salle University (DLSU). External circumstances led to his appointment that also brought some excitement and milestone—he was fifth university president in the last five years!
In 2010 then-DLSU President Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, accepted the position of secretary of the Department of Education in the Cabinet of President Aquino.
Bro. Erguiza, FSC, took over, but resigned to accept the challenge of heading La Salle-Araneta University and be president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.
Bro. Ricky Laguda, FSC, took over, but in 2011 was appointed as one of the seven general councilors of the De La Salle Brothers International in Rome, the highest ruling body of the La Salle Brothers. Bro. Magbanua, FSC, president of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, became concurrent president until a new president was selected. Finally, Suplido was serving as president of the University of Saint La Salle-Bacolod when he was selected as the new head of DLSU.
Suplido’s induction also came at a critical time, as the university, like all other universities in the country, faces the challenges of the beginning of the K to 12 Program. Add to this the extremely high expectations of Lasallians that their alma mater remains the leader in the field of academics, sports and service to society.
In an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror, Suplido said that after the fifth appointment, “the transition has been rather smooth, because we decided to follow some of the guidelines they gave me when I became president.”
One of them, he said, was to have a separate chancellor. Previously, he said, the chancellor also takes the university presidency, making the office “heavy,” given the complex activities and programs of the school.
Today as president, Suplido is more focused and relaxed attending to the affairs of the school. Already, he said, they have had planning session for the next five years. “We created some kind of a score card to monitor and evaluate our students on what we want our graduates to be in the future, after four or five years of their stay in the university. We conduct yearly measurement of the students’ analytical and critical skills; on how they have been doing; what the institution can do to further help them. Say, if the students have to be service-oriented, then we have to include services in the syllabus.”
Also, the university has attuned itself to global challenges, such the issues of climate change and helping Mother Earth.
Suplido said his academic journey and life’s experiences have prepared him well for the tremendous responsibility he has assumed. He entered the Christian Brother juniorate in his third year of high school, in what was then known as La Salle College-Taft. This early, he said, he already knew he wanted to serve through Christian brotherhood, a vocation similar to nuns—living under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience—but without entering priesthood.
After years of diligence, he graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, AB-BS Education, majoring in General Science and a minor in Mathematics, graduating magna cum laude. Then he went on to complete several graduate programs, including one at the Institute of Religious Formation at Saint Louis University in the US; MA in Education, major in Educational Administration at DLSU; and graduated magna cum laude at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he finished with a bachelor’s degree and a Licentiate.
In 2007 he graduated with high distinction after completing his PhD in Counseling Psychology at DLSU.
Over the years, Suplido has held various positions, from being a teacher to holding key administrative posts in various Lasallian institutions, locally and internationally.
In the mid-1970s, he became principal of the Grade School Department of then-De La Salle College Manila and in the following decade, he became director of the De La Salle Scholasticate and of the La Salle Novitiate. He was elected the brother provincial of the De La Salle Brothers-Philippine District in the 1990s.
He became the second Filipino brother, after Bro. Benildo Feliciano, FSC, to be appointed in Rome as general councilor of the De La Salle Brothers International from 1993 to 2000. Upon his return to the country, he was assigned director of the Philippine District’s programs on Lasallian Animation and Leadership Formation. Prior to becoming DLSU president, he served as president of De La Salle in Bacolod in his hometown, Negros Occidental.
It is not surprising that he was a teacher at 25 and has taken on a noble duty of molding young minds to become responsible citizens of the land. Given a chance for another lifetime, Suplido said he wouldn’t trade for another profession or advocacy.
He was elected as DLSU president for a three-year term, effective May 16, 2015.
Suplido admits he still has other skills to develop “and a lot more of our people to know. I have to form new relationships, which are quite diverse in a community the size of De La Salle University.”
Right now, as university president, Suplido said he has been receiving various invitations to become a member of different groups, like the Management Association of the Philippines.
“So, that’s a different group, another culture. I have to learn a ‘new language,’ because we’re talking about management this time. Then as president of a big university, I also think of, among other things, fund raising for school advancement. Finding out how the university can develop its fund for scholarship, for improvement, for faculty development. That’s another skill I have to improve,” Suplido said.
“I think keeping in touch with the students is always important, so I try to find out what the students’ concerns are. So I talk to them. I interview our student leaders. I also have to be present in games, like the UAAP [University Athletic Association of the Philippines], to meet team managers and the athletes,” he added. Suplido recognizes today’s millennials to be a generation that wants to succeed. However, he said, with the advent of technology, there are lots of options, propositions and even distractions that come along their way—and they can easily get lost.
“The challenge of the millennials is where to get their grounding, of what is really good, beautiful and important. Unless they have something basic to make the judgment, they can flow, they can be moved from one direction to another. So it’s a challenge for them to locate their principles. That’s why education is very important, education in school, in the family, because that’s where the young people get to clarify what’s important,” he said.
“That’s why our goal of having critically sharp students is important because they need to have criteria for judging,” he said.