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Dr. Dodjie S. Maestrecampo: The Flight of a Cardinal

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo, Pia Alyssa R. Bonagua, and Ysa Andre A. Mendoza

Graphics by: Albert Dylan D. David

A feat almost a century in the making, Mapúa University's (MU) fourth President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Dodjie S. Maestrecampo, made history after becoming the first homegrown president of the institution.

The Mapúa Institute of Technology (MIT) alumnus's 37-year flight toward the presidency is a characteristic anchored to the traits of the real cardinal bird — never leaving home, even when the seasons change. In the dawn of a new era, The New Builder recounts the tedious journey of MU's current head.

Hatching into the nest

Armed with the core values of a true-blooded Mapúan, Dr. Maestrecampo takes pride in being a first-generation college graduate of his family. Growing up in a working-class household, he was no stranger to perseverance. He believes that his stepping up as MU's next president makes a bold statement. "… it's really something that conveys a very strong message that [MU] is a place of opportunity and advancement," he remarked. 

Dr. Maestrecampo shared that since his formative years, he has always been interested in the sciences, particularly engineering and chemistry. This passion is shown in his academic achievements upon entering MIT in 1981.

Throughout his college years, the eventual MU President received multiple academic scholarship grants. While earning his chemical engineering degree, he also served as a student assistant, which sparked his interest in staying in the academe. He finished his program with distinction before placing fifth in the May 1986 Chemical Engineering Board Examination — a feat fit for a homegrown Cardinal.  

Learning to take flight

Shortly after passing his licensure exams, he was offered a teaching position at MIT, which he did full-time for one year. He would later join the industry at Colgate-Palmolive Philippines while working part-time as a faculty member.

After teaching at MIT and working in the field side-by-side for eight years, Dr. Maestrecampo decided to pursue his master's degree in chemical engineering at his alma mater, prompting him to leave the industry altogether. He would later earn his doctorate in education at the De La Salle University in Manila. It was during the tenure of Mapúa's second president, Oscar Mapúa Jr., that Dr. Maestrecampo took his leaps to administrative positions, first as the Executive Assistant of the Dean to becoming the eventual Dean of the School of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry in 2000. The latter was during the start of Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea's term as MU's third president.

In 2003, he took on the institutional role of the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. A few years later, as plans for Mapúa's expansion materialized, he spearheaded the establishment of Malayan Colleges Laguna in 2006 and Malayan Colleges Mindanao in 2017. He served as the EVP of the institutions before being appointed as the president of the sister schools in 2021. 

Putting the two institutions on the map was one of Dr. Maestrecampo's remarkable feats. It equipped him with the necessary skills to lead the head institution of the Mapúa schools — MU — especially with his focus on bringing quality education for the students to become globally competitive.

In July 2023, 37 years after he started serving Mapúa, Dr. Maestrecampo stepped up as MU's fourth President and CEO. 

The hallmark of a cardinal

The Northern Cardinal bird is notable for its territorial traits. Even as the seasons change, especially in wintertime, the red bird does not migrate — it remembers its roots and stays perched at home.

Even as he ventured into the industry, Dr. Maestrecampo never left Mapúa. Recounting his years, he shared that he remained teaching part-time and conducted his classes on evenings and weekends. When asked why he chose to become an educator over a full-time job in the field, he said it all boiled down to fulfillment. 

"…while the industry may promise you greener pastures, The satisfaction that I'm getting from teaching from the academe is far, far more than the financial reward than staying in the industry," MU's fourth President remarked.

Serving in administrative positions for more than two decades, Dr. Maestrecampo is no stranger to the weight of leadership. When asked about his motivation, he said, "[It] is really on the reward, on how the joy, the satisfaction of seeing your students succeed, become alumni, become professionals, later on improve their lives and the lives of the community they serve."

Maintaining the heights mid-air

Marking his legacy as MU's fourth President and CEO, Dr. Maestrecampo highlighted that he plans to build on the foundation laid by his predecessors, but also considering the evolving landscape of education. For him, this means venturing "in new avenues of technology integration, international partnership and more importantly, collaboration with research." With a five-year strategy map laid out and a vision identified, the goals are to evolve MU while consistently providing unparalleled education, maintaining the best interests of the student body as they make their executive decisions.

As for what would leave his tenure distinct from the ones that came before him, Dr. Maestrecampo said that it's for the red and golden community to decide. His visions are ongoing and evolving, continuously influenced by the blood and sweat of Mapúans — the students, the faculty members, the non-teaching staff, and the administrators. 

For his parting message, Dr. Maestrecampo asks the whole Mapúa community to have the willingness to take part in the evolution to reach greater heights.

"We have to move forward with courage and strategy, always thinking of our strategy, and would also like the whole Mapúa community to have the willingness to transform and meet those challenges," the MU President remarked.

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