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UP Diliman Has A New Chancellor: Get to Know Dr. Fidel Nemenzo

Nemenzo won over Engineering Dean Ferdinand Manegdeg
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Dr. Fidel Nemenzo is the newest Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Diliman. UP President Danilo Concepcion, who is also co-chair of the Univeristy’s Board of Regents, made the announcement on Monday, February 3. 

Nemenzo, who will serve as the 10th Chancellor of UP Diliman, was chosen over the other nominee, Prof. Ferdinand Manegdeg, dean of the College of Engineering.He succeeds Dr. Michael Tan, who was Chancellor since 2014. 

Who is Fidel Nemenzo

According to the UP System website, Nemenzo graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from UP Diliman in 1985, and earned his Master and Doctor of Science in Mathematics degrees from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, in 1992 and 1998, respectively.

He has been teaching at the UP Institute of Mathematics since 1992. Some of the positions he has held include deputy director for academic affairs in the Institute of Mathematics; associate dean for academic affairs of the UP College of Science; OIC director of the UP Institute for Small Scale Industries; and, from 2014 to the present, vice-chancellor for research and development.

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Nemenzo, who is the son of former UP President Francisco Nemenzo, names number theory, elliptic curves and coding theory as his areas of research. Among the awards he has received are the Achievement Award in mathematics from the National Research Council of the Philippines and the UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor Para sa Pinakamahusay na Guro. He was also president of both the Southeast Asian Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Society of the Philippines, and has held research and teaching posts in Singapore, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Munich and Phnom Penh.

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In 2019, Nemenzo was elected to the Governing Board of the National Research Council of the Philippines, and is Chair of its Mathematics Division.

According to the UP System website, Nemenzo addressed a crowd of supporters outside UP Diliman’s Quezon Hall soon after the BOR's announcement. “Ang tagumpay ngayon ay tagumpay nating lahat. Alam kong narito kayo hindi para ipaglaban ako, [kundi] para ipaglaban ang UP. Narito kayo para sa academic freedom, demokratikong pamamahala, para madinig ang boses ng ating komunidad sa mga importanteng desisyon ng BOR [Today’s victory is the victory of us all. I know you are here not to fight for me but to fight for UP. You are here for academic freedom, democratic governance, and for the voice of the community to be heard in important decisions of the BOR],” he said.

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Inaasahan ko ang inyong pakikilahok at pagkakaisa sa mga darating na hamon at pagsubok na sama-sama nating haharapin. Taus-pusong pasasalamat sa inyong lahat! Mabuhay ang UP! [I look forward to your participation and unity amid the challenges we will all meet head on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Long live UP!]” he added.

Nemenzo, who has always embraced his days as an activist, said he imagined UP Diliman as an academic center of excellence, inclusive, diverse and public service-oriented.

Noon pa man, malinaw na sa akin na ang UP ay naninindigan at lumalaban. Ang UP ay nakikilahok, nakiiisa at lumalaban para sa bayan. Sabihin mang pula ang kulay ng protesta, hindi ko kinahihiya ang marka ng tradisyon ng pakikibaka na aking pinagmulatan at kinalakihan (Even then, it was clear to me that UP has integrity and is willing to fight. UP is willing to engage, is supportive and ready to fight for the country. They may say red is the color of protest, I have never been ashamed of the mark of tradition that I grew up with),” he said.

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In its report of the presentation of the candidates’ vision for UP, the UP System website quoted Nemenzo as saying that “academic excellence can only thrive under conditions of openness and respect for diversity.” Nemenzo then said he is committed to “defend UP as a safe space where free thought and free speech are practiced responsibly, and where collegiality and respect prevail.”

Nemenzo will serve as chancellor of UP Diliman until 2023.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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