*She assumes office with an agenda for change, vision for this 39-year-old state university
More than 30 years ago, a fearless student leader of the College of Arts and Sciences led protest rallies against the first Mariano Marcos State University president for alleged suppression of student organizations and campus publications. Last August 2, she entered the president’s office, no longer an activist but an academe icon with an agenda for change and a clear vision for the 39-year-old state university, whose main campus is located at Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
Dr. Shirley C. Agrupis, 52, was voted as the 7th MMSU president by the Board of Regents (BOR) during a special meeting held at the central office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on July 31. She bested two other aspirants for the position that was vacated in 2015. Her term will end on July 31, 2021. Her appointment was signed by CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan.
“God is so good. I am overwhelmed on what is happening to me right now,” the teary-eyed new MMSU president told her well-wishers as she approached the entrance of the administration building lobby. She remarked that she stepped into the building “not to wield power but to become a university president for all.”
Dr. Agrupis arrived at the administration building at 8:00 a.m. using her private car. After she alighted from the vehicle, she met the cheerful employees who gave her bouquets of flowers. The group was composed of faculty members, administrative and non-teaching personnel, security guards, researchers, and laborers.
Dr. Agrupis said her first thing to do is to meet all the vice presidents and heads of offices to discuss plans for the first 100 days. She requested all employees to support her in bringing in positive change to the university.
Dr. Prima Fe Franco, MMSU’s officer-in-charge for two years and VP for academic affairs, turned over the office’s key and the university mace to Dr. Agrupis.
The two other vice presidents, Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, research and extension, and Atty. Ramon Leaño, administration and business, were also present to welcome the new president. Both Leaño and Alibuyog also ran for the presidency.
Later, Dr. Agrupis proceeded to the Teatro Ilocandia to deliver her first keynote speech before the guests and participants in the 4th Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Network (RAFEN) symposium.
At noon, she had a sumptuous luncheon meeting with the heads of offices in the administration building followed by a brief press conference with the local media.
In the afternoon, she had her meeting with the representatives of various stakeholders for the MMSU bio-ethanol project.
The president hopes that this pet project, which is now in full swing, will enhance the country’s bio-ethanol program.
“I will see to it that I will do a short retreat for my mother in Aparri, Cagayan who just passed away last July 31,” she said adding that despite this tragedy, she, too, is very much excited because “I know that God will guide me all the way until beyond the end of my four-year term.”
Before her appointment to the MMSU presidency, Dr. Agrupis was a CAS professor. She is a scholar with 30 years of diversified work experiences in research, teaching, and administration.
Before joining MMSU in 2000, she was a science research specialist at the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) where she pioneered alternative uses of tobacco as particleboard, pulp, and paper material. At MMSU, she rose from the ranks to become full-fledged professor in 2012.
She finished BS Biology at MMSU in 1985, MS Botany at UPLB in 1992, and PhD in Agricultural Sciences at the Shizuoka University, Japan, in 2000. Her vision is to make MMSU as one of the country’s top 10 universities. She wanted it to be recognized for its innovative approaches to teaching, research, community outreach, and income generation. (MMSU website)