Dr. Amabel Liao, the 4th University President for Western Philippines University, waves the WPU colors in full vestment.

Dr. Amabel Liao, born and raised in Aborlan, was formally inaugurated as the fourth President of Western Philippines University (WPU) on June 10.

In the presence of representatives from state colleges and universities (SUCs) across Mimaropa, she pledged to uphold the legacy of her grandparents, who had served the institution.

With a heartfelt commitment akin to a daughter’s devotion to her alma mater, she vowed to give her utmost for the university’s advancement.

The investiture ceremony took place at the Edward S. Hagedorn Coliseum, with a mass presided over by Bishop Socrates Mesiona, and Fathers Emmanuel Dormile, Bobby Sta. Cruz, Edwin Cayabo, and Francis Guzman at 1 p.m. The procession included staff and faculty of WPU, its students, and former Presidents.

Liao previously served at Palawan State University (Palawan SU) for 22 years. After stepping down as vice president for finance and administration, she was sworn in as the university president on February 26 and assumed her duties just in time for the school’s anniversary.

Between her inauguration and her investiture, Liao had brought about changes for WPU, including bolstering external partnerships for university research and development, along with opening additional slots for incoming freshmen of AY 2024-2025.

Liao’s mother, Dr. Maria Concepcion Siose, was a former educator at WPU in the 60s. In her message, she highlighted that Liao’s presidency continues her grandfathers’ legacies, who served Aborlan’s educational system similarly.

In 1952, Liao’s maternal grandfather, Gregorio Albino Sr., moved his entire family from Tarlac to Aborlan to serve as principal for what was then known as Aborlan Agricultural High School. Her paternal grandfather, Agustin Siose Sr., was the farm manager for the same institution around the same time.

“I didn’t understand then why my father, who was already principal in Tarlac, wanted to move all the way to Palawan. Now I understand. He paved the way for you to one day follow in his footsteps. (…) I never dreamed that one day you, my youngest daughter, would return to Palawan and assume the role of President,” Siose said.

Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Chair of the WPU Board of Regents, delivered a keynote speech. He mentioned making an early morning trip at 4 a.m. to attend the investiture ceremony, as he made it a point to personally congratulate SUC presidents for assuming the mantle of the job.

De Vera emphasized that a university president’s role differs from that of most organizational leaders due to the diverse range of stakeholders they interact with, including students, parents, faculty, alumni, and the Board of Regents.

Furthermore, he noted that university presidents are responsible for negotiating the budget for their institutions, a duty that has recently gained significance due to budget cuts affecting SUCs nationwide.

“You have to deal with the Department of Budget and Management because every year you have to hear the budget calls and proposals in the National Expenditure Program. Hopefully get what you want and not be surprised by what happens afterwards, like your capital outlay being transferred to [the Department of Public Works and Highways] instead of you implementing it,” De Vera noted.

Liao stated her vision for WPU in the next few years, focusing on improving student conditions and research support, along with integrating the local community with their course programs.