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UP grad 1st Filipino head of California university

By: - Columnist / @InqEnt
/ 03:29 AM October 22, 2012

PIONEERING University of the Philippines alumni Dr. Luis Ma. R. Calingo (left) and Dr. Amado Gabriel Esteban. Ruben V. Nepales/Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOS ANGELES—Dr. Luis Ma. R. Calingo, a University of the Philippines alumnus, was installed Saturday as president of Woodbury University in ceremonies held at the institution’s Burbank, California, campus.

Calingo is the first Filipino president of Woodbury in its 128-year history and is the second Filipino to become president of a US university.

Dr. Amado Gabriel Esteban, president of Seton Hall University in New Jersey and the first Filipino to head an American university, attended Dr. Calingo’s inauguration and installation.


In his call to service remarks representing the academic community, Esteban, who is also a UP alumnus, congratulated the board of trustees and the Woodbury University community “on an excellent choice.”

Esteban, who greeted the crowd “Magandang umaga (Good morning),” said, “You have chosen well. As a fellow student and alumnus of the University of the Philippines, during a turbulent time while under martial law, I know that Dr. Calingo was shaped as a leader by these experiences and learned to temper idealism with the practicalities of operating in the ‘real world.’ In my years of knowing Luis, I have always been impressed by his ability to see the big picture, knowing how to motivate people, and bringing consensus to diverse groups of individuals.”

In his inaugural address, Calingo paid tribute to F.C. Woodbury, who founded Woodybury’s Business College, the university’s original name.

Dr. Luis Ma. R. Calingo. Ruben V. Nepales/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Calingo said, “Before we can think about what lies ahead, we must consider both our past and our present. F.C. Woodbury created this institution to meet a pressing need. In 1884, the city of Los Angeles was still in its infancy. There were only 35,000 Angelenos at the time, but Mr. Woodbury and the civic leaders of this fledgling city understood that an educated citizenry would be essential to future growth and prosperity. Mr. Woodbury, who came to the frontier that was Los Angeles from the more established San Francisco, has been described as an entrepreneur, an innovator. In other words, he was willing to take risks that offered rewards.”

The Quezon City-raised educator brought up his own ancestors’ risk-taking spirit. “At about the time Mr. Woodbury founded Los Angeles’ oldest business school, my paternal great-grandfather left the comforts of the city of Manila to settle in a less developed province,” Dr. Calingo recounted. “There he established a banana plantation, while my great-grandmother went into the business of embroidery. Getting out of one’s comfort zone, taking intelligent risks, establishing ventures and engaging in honest self-reflection have, therefore, also been part of the DNA of my family.”

Dr. Calingo spoke about his vision and plans for the future of Woodbury, which sits on a 22.5-acre campus in Burbank, and has another campus in San Diego, California. He touted Woodbury, which offers professional and liberal arts education, as “being one of only 20 Colleges of Distinction in California.”

He gave special thanks to Gemeline Calingo, his wife of 31 years, and daughters Ashley, Alexandra and Arienne, who were seated in the front row with other family members and guests.

Calingo holds a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering (1976) and a master of science degree in urban and regional planning (1978) from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He earned his MBA and Ph.D. degrees from the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.


A member of UP High School Batch ‘71, Calingo’s extensive experience includes various positions at universities and colleges in Singapore and California.

Robert W. Kummer Jr., chair of the school’s board of trustees, presided over the investiture ceremonies. He placed a ceremonial medallion on Calingo’s shoulders. The back of the medallion bore the names of Woodbury’s 13 presidents.

Esteban and the other guests congratulated Calingo in the reception that followed the installation ceremonies. He told PDI that another Filipino, Dr. Divina Grossman, bachelor of science in nursing, a cum laude graduate of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, became the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Several Filipinos have become presidents of American colleges but Esteban, Calingo and Grossman are the first heads of US universities.

Originally posted: 2:34 pm | Sunday, October 21st, 2012

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