Ched questions second grad rites, mayor’s degree

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ONLY the students who graduated in a ceremony organized by acting Talisay City College (TCC) President Richel Bacaltos will be recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), an official said yesterday.

The commission’s Central Visayas office also questioned the conferment of an honorary degree on Mayor Johnny de los Reyes by a United States university, during the second TCC graduation.

De los Reyes received an honorary degree from the Northwestern Christian University (NCU) during the second commencement activity for the city college last Monday.


The mayor said in a separate interview that while he was happy to receive the honorary
degree, he had only met the university’s officials this week and has not visited their campus in the US.

Ched 7 chief administrative officer Pacita Isugan said that after finding out about it from media reports, the commission is checking the background of NCU.

The NCU founder-president, Bishop Howard Sarkela, and other NCU officials, conferred on the mayor last Monday the honorary title Doctor of Philosophy and Humanities.

Isugan, however, said that the move runs counter to Ched Memorandum No. 45, issued in 2009, or the policies and guidelines on the conferment of honorary degrees by Higher Education Institution (HEIs).

Based on the memorandum, an HEI that wants to award an honorary doctorate degree must have attained university status at the time of the application; existed as a higher education institution for at least 25 years; and have at least one recognized doctoral program in the case of private institutions and with the approval of Board of Trustees or Regents in the case of local and state colleges.

The honorary degree shall only be conferred upon a person who has attained “meritorious achievements or outstanding services to the university” beyond the level
normally expected in the execution of the person’s duties.

Also, a written request for authority to confer an honorary degree should be addressed to the Ched chair and the Office of Programs and Standards through the Ched regional office.

The request must be filed at least 45 days before the scheduled conferment and accompanied by a copy of the curriculum vitae and accomplishments of the candidate; a resolution of the governing board of the HEI; and the reasons the award is being made.

The Ched chairperson shall be the sole authority to approve the awarding of the honorary degree, the memorandum states.

Ched also the prerogative to withdraw or withhold and declare void the conferment of an honorary degree by an HEI, when the award is done on a reciprocal basis; when it is done for publicity purposes; or when it is designed to boost the career and reputation of a particular person.

Based on the NCU’s website, the university offers baccalaureate, masteral and doctorate degrees in theology.

The university, which is based in Florida, offers a “Special Theologically Accredited Degree Program” for students from the Philippines.

According to the website, underprivileged Filipinos can avail themselves of the online program but that a “pre-determined Love Offer is required during graduation time to cover costs of administration, processing, shipping and handling of the degree.”

The NCU is part of the worldwide educational ministry of the Christian Alliance Ministries.

De los Reyes is not the first person given an honorary degree by NCU.

Back in 2009, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given an honorary doctorate by NCU for her administration’s “exemplary policy in moral recovery.”

Last year, Dr. Paulus Mariae Cañete and Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Thadeo Ouano were given honorary degrees by the same university.

Cañete, whom Mayor de los Reyes has appointed as acting president of TCC, had been awarded an honorary doctor of humanities title. Ouano received an honorary doctorate degree in transformational leadership.

The conferment was done at the Mandaue City College campus in Barangay Tipolo last September 2013.

In a separate interview yesterday, De los Reyes said the graduation held at City Hall last Monday was the first time that he met Sarkela and his fellow university

Isugan of Ched also clarified that while the commission is checking on NCU’s background, it cannot formally file a case unless a private complainant would do so.

As to the graduation, Isugan said that since Bacaltos was authorized by the city college’s Board of Trustees, only the names of graduates that he will send to their office will be recognized by Ched.

She also urged de los Reyes to respect the decision of the Board of Trustees, considering that his word is just one of many opinions on the entire board.

But she also advised the board to immediately settle the issue before it creates more confusion on the part of the students.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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