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Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea: A Legacy of Excellence

Article by: Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin, Pia Alyssa R. Bonagua, and Princess Jazlyn B. Pereda

Graphics by: Cassius Klai C. Francisco

For the past 23 years, Mapúa University (MU) has withstood the test of time, achieving one milestone after another. Behind the success of MU, the visionary leader has cemented himself as a remarkable figure that impacts not only the university’s image but also the lives of the Cardinals.

As Mapúa University bids farewell to the visionary leader who continued the tradition of excellence, The New Builder pays tribute to the man at the forefront of the recent successes of the red and gold community – former President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea.

Continuing the tradition

Recalling how everything started for him, Dr. Vea mentioned how his mother’s love for teaching inspired him as he saw how her eyes would always light up whenever she would tell stories about her teaching experiences at different schools. In his high school days, the hardworking student received the opportunity to be a part of the first batch who got into the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) in 1964. According to the President, it was at that time that he fell in love with science and mathematics, ultimately realizing that his life's work would be in the field of education.

In the long run, the eventual MU President and CEO excelled throughout the different stages of his academic life – from becoming the first valedictorian of PSHS to graduating magna cum laude at the University of Philippines and eventually taking up his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Having an excellent foundation in the academe world, Dr. Vea stepped up as the third president of MU, then Mapúa Institute of Technology (MIT), becoming the first non-Mapúan to do so. After achieving university status, Dr. Vea rose as the first University President.

When asked what encouraged him to pursue the road less traveled, he emphasized that he wanted to become a leader that would serve as an inspiration to many individuals. “Nothing inspires like being able to help young people learn their craft and […] join society later on and be satisfied with their own lives,” he added.

Coming from a slow start, MU’s long road only started with only three fields – Engineering, Architecture, and Information Technology. However, that only marked the start of something far greater than they could have imagined.

Leaving his legacy

With his long-standing journey, Dr. Vea’s visions for the University have always been aligned with excellence and quality. He created programs and developments inclined to innovations for Engineering, Architecture, and Information Technology, among other fields, allowing Mapúans to enhance their skills and talents to become globally competitive.

Despite the credibility he built for MU, Dr. Vea knew that their success was not only attributed to his efforts. Surrounded by a team who is constantly driven by grit and determination, the efforts of the department deans and faculty staff proved how capable and reliable they are with every endeavor they encountered as they express their love and commitment to the institution. Moreover, he emphasized that the University’s achievements should also be credited to the students, as their academic performance is the most significant aspect of why the University has gained success over the past two decades with his service and leadership.

Back in 2010, MU, formerly known as MIT, became the first school in the country to receive accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), wherein the vision to join the global arena turned into a mission that drove the Mapúan community to rise as one of the best universities in the world.

While the MU President and CEO admitted that the path to this achievement faced difficulties, they continued to become an unstoppable force as these hurdles did not hinder them from receiving the accreditation. “We pioneered it. Nobody knew how it was gonna go, nobody in the Philippines had experience, but we were not daunted in going through uncharted territory,” he stated.

Despite being in unfamiliar waters, this milestone showed that it is possible for Philippine engineering programs to be credited through ABET, establishing credentials for Mapúans to play on the global stage. Upon receiving ABET accreditation, they became bolder in their ambitions.

In 2017, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) granted the institution its university status, wherein the institute’s name changed to Mapúa University. With their dreams coming to life, the outgoing leader admitted how elated and proud he was of this accomplishment. One of the reasons the status was given was because they were able to crack the challenge of publishing multiple Scopus index papers, wherein the published undergraduate research of the students increased the research capability of MU. He added that the status received would help graduates receive the qualification they deserve, especially those who pursued their careers overseas.

Establishing a place internationally, MU was able to become one of the best universities in Asia through Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) United States and in the world through the Times Higher Education (THE). He said that it shows the school was evaluated objectively and showed that it could join the ranks of the best universities. Currently, MU holds the top 6% out of more than 20,000 universities worldwide at THE World Rankings, and Dr. Vea takes pride in this accomplishment. However, he highlighted that this feat “has to be owned by the students, the faculty, the administrative staff, the alumni, the friends, our sister companies in the Yuchengco group – all of them pitched in to make these things possible and actualized.

The dream, however, was not only limited to this. In fact, the University continued to expand its horizon toward excellence. With the Makati campus extension, MU partnered with Cintana schools led by Arizona State University to establish business and science programs equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories.

Encapsulating his 23 years in Mapúa, Dr. Vea addressed the challenges of the ever-evolving global and digital economy by riding the successive waves of educational technologies, joining the fray in research, playing in the global arena, stimulating fundamental changes in the Philippine educational system, helping communities, and being a part for the attainment of the United Nations sustainable development goals. He finished his statement by summarizing what MU has been in the last two decades: offering “an education that is for the global and digital age and an education that is for the people and planet.”

Leaving MU, he leaves this message for the Mapúan community: “Keep on with the tradition of excellence… Keep on building the future and building the world, and I think we'll be fine,” the MU President and CEO remarked.

Upon stepping down from his post as President and CEO of Mapúa University effective July 1, 2023, he will carry on with his vision as the Chairman and CEO of iPeople Inc., which accommodates seven educational institutions.

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