Ms. Lilibeth Leh-Arcena, the director of the Arrupe Office of Social Formation, is appointed as the new chair of the Ateneo de Davao University Center for Leadership. The appointment was announced by university president, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, on 12th November 2012 during the General Faculty Meeting held at Finster Auditorium. The appointment came in the wake of ushering in a new set of administrators whose terms of office commence in the second semester of school year 2012-2013: Fr. Gabriel “Gabby”  Gonzalez, SJ as the new Academic Vice President (AVP), and Ms. Theresa “Bimbay” Salaver-Eliab as the new director of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). Ms. Arcena, or Ma’am Beth to colleagues and friends, replaces Fr. Archimedes “Kim” Lachica, SJ who will concentrate on his current function as the Campus Minister for Faculty and Staff.

The center was created by Fr. Tabora in July of this year, as a concretization of his tall order to promote a distinct brand of leadership orientation encompassing the institution’s value system as codified in its vision-mission-goals (VMG), more specifically the promotion of justice and the common good. The center therefore embodies the promotion of a leadership formation that is anchored on these principles, along with sensitivity to cultures, inter-religious dialogue, environmental consciousness, among others. By defining this leadership culture as characteristically Filipino, Catholic and Jesuit sue generis, in the context of the Ateneo de Davao experience, the center is then mandated to recommend and animate leadership activities, as well as to initiate programs that will promote the objectives of the center. The center is expected to coordinate and link up with the Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Office (ISFO) headed by Mr. Elvi C. Tamayo, the Arrupe, and the OSA.

As the concurrent director of the Arrupe, and under whose current leadership the office has decided to reinvent itself as the center of social formation, Ma’am Beth brings to the leadership center her extensive experience in social involvement work. Prior to her appointment as the director of the Social Involvement Coordinating Office (or SICO, the former name of Arrupe) commencing April of 2012, she has previously served as its director from 1999-2000. She is also primarily responsible for the birthing of some of SICO’s enduring programs through the years, notably: The integration of Service Learning Program (SLP) into SICO’s curricular strategies; the Pagtataya (a skills-based SLP that partners with the practicum program for graduating students in different departments); and the Atenista Ako Maligdong, a university-wide campaign that promotes the culture of integrity in line with the strategic direction of good governance which SICO has adopted from that of the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA). Along with the staff of SICO, she is one of the first lay trainors to conduct the Ehem! Anticorruption Sensitivity Training Workshop, a modular approach toward combatting corruption initiated by the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.  Prior to this new appointment as head of the center, Ma’am Beth also serves as the executive secretary of the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), a position for which she will now relinquish upon her acceptance of this new function.

Ma’am Beth’s mother program is the Economics Department of the Social Science Cluster of the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS). She took her Master of Arts in Economics Education and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware in the United States in 2008, for which she was awarded the Harry Hutchinson’s Outstanding Leadership Award. Among the many other things that Ma’am Beth is noted for, she is exemplified as a highly skilled facilitator and a good communicator. She is also output-driven, with a no-nonsense approach to work that can withstand pressure.  As an ingenuous master tactician, as some are wont to describe her, she is a consensus builder and has the ability to  traffic and navigate difficult situations with aplomb. But more than that, she would rather be known as formator in the Ignatian mould and has, first and foremost, always considered herself a professional lay collaborator in the corporate apostolate of the Jesuits. With these traits and others, Ma’am Beth’s appointment may bring about the much needed boost for the center to take off and finally chart its own course. (By M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)