Breaking Through: Manila’s University of the East (UE) has a new President

Who said guys with simple beginnings, born and raised in rural settings, couldn’t make it to the top of their career ladder?
This question may look like nothing new to others who may be taking note of how some people of countryside origins worked hard, overcome challenges, and ripped through competition leading their way to the apex of their careers.
The subject of this column is all that plus more.
Many of those earlier rural- to- bigtime success stories though are of people who are in the realm of politics, sports, music, and other related fields.
But not as much in the exacting world of the academe, especially in a privately-owned university where, in the hiring of executives, meritocracy is the rule. You can count them by your fingers!
The latest among them is Dr.Zosimo Battad, Ph.D., a multi-awarded educator who has just assumed as President and Chief Academic Officer of the University of the East (UE).
Dr. Battad’s rise in the academe can be considered phenomenal.
After his presidency of Pampanga Agricultural College (now Pampanga State Agricultural University) for two terms in 1999-2003 and 2003-2007, he was transported to the UE system, initially as Chancellor or head of UE-Caloocan, a branch of UE, where he served for almost 12 years in 2011-2022.
He made waves at UE-Caloocan where a great transformation took place resulting in greater academic performance/achievements and in the “aesthetic” uplift of the campus, among others.
His term as Chancellor ceased on December 31 last year but only to be appointed and to assume as President of the entire UE system immediately at the start of the new year on January 1st.
His exemplary performance at UE-Caloocan must have motivated the people behind the privately-owned university to put him at the helm of UE.
UE, which is my Alma Mater, is owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan who acquired it from the Dalupans whose great patriarch, the late pioneer educator Dr, Francisco Dalupan, founded it along with some associates.
As a respected private institution of learning, UE’s tradition of excellence is well-known. Its graduates have been topnotchers in board examinations in Accounting, Medicine, Dentistry, Engineering and Law, among others.
Former Chief Justice and now Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin was no. 8 in the Bar examinations he took after graduating from the UE College of Law. At another time, UE’s Basilio Alo took the 3rd place among the Top 10 Bar topnotchers.
Dr. Battad, who is dearly called as Zing by his family and friends, is a product of the countrysides: Santa, Ilocos Sur and Kabacan, North Cotabato.
He’s a chip off the old block. His Dad, Dr. Fortunato Battad, headed as President five state universities and colleges before he retired and was subsequently appointed as Chairman of the Board of Agriculture at the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) during retirement.
Zing finished college Magna Cum Laude (BS Agriculture) at the Pampanga Agricultural College. He went on to obtain his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.
He excels in Research and Development (R&D) and institution building, among others. Under his leadership and direction as R&D Director of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in 1992-1995, the university’s presentation was adjudged the best in the Ilocos region.
The new UE prexy is pretty much aware of the congestion obtaining in UE’s main campus.
There’s just too many buildings close to each other inside the campus that it looks like the well-known institution may in due time no longer be conducive to learning. My last visit there gave me this assessment. All vacant spaces during our time, save for that portion of the Dalupan Quadrangle where graduation programs were held, are already eaten up by new constructions.
Well, Dr. Battad shall, hopefully, end this dilemma pretty soon. He said during our exchange of text messages that by the third quarter of this year, work will commence on a 25-hectare lot in Laguna to serve as UE’s larger campus and expansion area.
Decongestion began earlier with the College of Dentistry already moved to another lot acquired in 2014.
Zing was a tennis champion during his youth winning awards after awards in the Palarong Pambansa and in other sports competitions. He bagged similar awards during adulthood as his passion for tennis keeps burning. That’s his balancing act, I guess, after work. A healthy mind in a healthy body.
Recognitions for his labours keep coming his way. Among them are two awards from the Soka Gakkai University in Japan, the Honorary Doctorate and Highest Honor award.
He also received the Civil Service Commission’s National Pagasa Award (Group Category).
He was also a recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus awards given by his Alma Maters UPLB and PAC.
One column space is just not enough for remarkable people like Dr. Zosimo Battad. I hope our Editor would allow us another chance to write more on him.
(The author is a veteran journalist based in Hercules City, California. He is currently on assignment and vacation in the Philippines.)