USC’s youngest president talks about challenges in new normal

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THE investiture rites of Fr. Narciso Cellan Jr., SVD, the 11th president of the University of San Carlos (USC), were held at the USC Talamban campus on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.

Cellan was elected by the school’s board of trustees on Feb. 15 for the academic triennium 2020-2021 until 2022-2023.

“The pandemic came at the worst time possible during the transition of the leadership of USC to me,” Cellan said.

He admitted that the school is facing a challenge with the current setup, but he hopes they can inspire students to be optimistic through education with the support of parents.

He said all their schools have adopted online classes. The faculty, staff and students also underwent webinars and training to help them transition from face-to-face classes to studying from home.

Cellan said they don’t know yet if they’ll allow students to return to classrooms next semester, adding that this will depend on Malacañang’s decision.

He said they still have to consider students who are based outside Cebu. They may still not be allowed to travel, or they may not have a place to stay here when they arrive, he said.

Cellan said USC will consider offering online courses and physical classes after the pandemic.

On reports that some students are under a lot of pressure because of the load given to them by teachers and the limited deadlines, Cellan said they can raise their concerns with the Office of the Student’s Affairs or the counseling office.

Cellan, 41, is the youngest USC president. His predecessors were all 50 years old or older when they assumed the post.

Prior to his appointment, Cellan served as USC’s assistant vice president for academic affairs.

His administrative experience is enriched by his missionary assignment in Africa, where he held several leadership positions.

He was the director of the Institute of Social Communication from 2009 to 2017 and the chairman of the School of Arts and Social Sciences from 2013 to 2017 at the Tangaza University College, Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

He served as the communication coordinator for the SVD (Societas Verbi Divini or the Society of the Divine Word) Kenya-Tanzania Province from 2008 to 2014, while working as the editor of the Jambo Newsletter for the SVD Kenya-Tanzania Province from 2008 to 2014, as well as the associate editor of Sema Magazine published by Tangaza University College and managing editor of Campus Heartbeat published by the Institute of Social Communication.

In the SVD community in Kenya, he served as the college seminary prefect (2008 to 2014) of St. Joseph Freinademetz House in Nairobi and was also the provincial secretary for two terms in 2002–2005 and 2008–2011. / KFD