“There’s a lot that CSPPS could play in this new time. There are opportunities upon opportunities to further heighten our relevance in the university and in the research community.”
This is what Dr. Aileen V. Lapitan would like to focus on as the new director of the Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies (CSPPS) of the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf). Effective April 12, 2021, she will be heading the policy research center and for the next three years, she aims to sustain, and even increase CSPPS’s contribution to the academic community, specifically along the areas that the office has been engaged in: conducting robust policy research and fostering policy discourse, offering technical assistance to government agencies and other organizations, and engaging in the continued delivery of graduate learning.
To do this, Dr. Lapitan’s programs and plans for CSPPS will revolve around three priority thrusts: 1) Partnerships; 2) Capacity Strengthening; and lastly; 3) Leveraging Technologies.
Providing timely and relevant policy analytic information to stakeholders is a big challenge amidst existing limitations such as inadequate core funding, small number and staff, and limitations in movement brought by the onset of the pandemic. Building on partnerships could be an answer to these. With partnerships and collaborations, CSPPS could build on social capital that could be tapped in the future. Research fellowships could also be promoted as these could further foster multidisciplinary learning. As what Dr. Lapitan has mentioned, “CSPPS must take advantage of opportunities to engage with various disciplines while also nurturing its core.”
Aside from pursuing partnerships, Dr. Lapitan would also like to strengthen the capacity of the CSPPS staff. According to her, it is always imperative to provide continuing support to develop capacities of CSPPS research and administrative personnel and prepare them for leadership roles. For this, she plans to pursue programs that could further enhance the knowledge and skills of the staff on the latest techniques in designing and pitching for research funding, as well as in implementing research and other projects. She would also like to foster a culture of continuous learning on research design and approaches, and project management. These programs will also include the core and project-based staff of the office to enrich them in ways that would make them an asset in their future career endeavors.
The pandemic has led the academe to look to technologies for a lot of things. This is why Dr. Lapitan has included ‘Leveraging Technologies’ in her priorities for the next years to come. Equipment, as well as software used to gather, manage, analyze, and communicate data will be updated. As the Director, she will also focus on mobilizing resources to meet the needs for more up to date equipment and software. The digitization of research instruments and publications for local archiving will also be continued. One of things that Dr. Lapitan would also like CSPPS to develop is a data banking system for possible use in data analytic research.
Prior to becoming the CSPPS Director, Dr. Lapitan has also held various administrative positions. She served as Assistant to the Dean of CPAf from November 2020 until her appointment as CSPPS Director. She was also the Assistant Secretary of the UPLB Graduate School from 2018 until February 2021. At present, she is also handling various graduate courses as Assistant Professor at CPAf. Before joining the college in 2016, she was Associate Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute. A researcher at heart, Dr. Lapitan has been engaged in various researches focused on agriculture, governance, and policy.