FEU IL Dean steps down after 9 years in service

FEU Advocate
January 26, 2023 09:40

Atty. Melencio "Mel" Sta. Maria ended his 9 years of deanship at Far Eastern University Institute of Law (FEU-IL) last December 31.

With Sta. Maria’s exit, he described that he left the Institute with a pool of very good professors with remarkable credentials in the field.

“Among them [FEU IL professors] are bar-topnotchers and/or with Master of Laws degrees or even a Doctorate in Law. They are also practitioners and members of the judiciary like judges and justices,” the former dean shared with FEU Advocate.

IL program and system development

Since 2013, the Institute has gradually increased the number of first-year law students. It can also be noted that in his term, the IL only had one and a half sections of students but it increased to five sections in 2020.

With the plan to increase the number of excellent students in FEU-IL, Sta. Maria started scholarship and financial assistance programs at the institute. Latin Honor graduates, top notchers of any licensure exam, and financially challenged law students became the program's beneficiaries. 

Sta. Maria also proudly stated that rekindling FEU-IL’s relationship with FEU Law Alumni Association helped in funding the financial assistance program of the institute.

Moot court and writing competitions excellence

FEU-IL was also recognized in competitions through Sta. Maria’s term. 

FEU IL student-mooters represented the Philippines in the Philip Jessup International Moot Court Competition with student-mooters from the University of San Carlos (USC) after a historic final round between the two universities in 2014.

“During that year [2014], FEU Law beat UP and USC beat Ateneo. We ended up  second place. However, for the first time in Philippine Jessup History, the international administrators deemed it best to have two representatives from the Philippines because the final round between USC and FEU was so close,” Sta. Maria recalled.

They also represented the Philippines and Southeast Asia in the Foreign Direct Investment Moot Court International Round which happened in Boston and Sweden last 2017 and 2018, respectively.

FEU IL bar examinations improvement

During Sta. Maria’s deanship, the Central Bar Operations Group that helps bar examinees, was revamped by FEU. Through this, the Institute visibly improved in the recent bar examinations. 

FEU-IL had an overall average of 82.90% with 163 passers out of 193 examinees in the February 2022 Bar Examination. 

Among the 163 passers, 13 FEU IL passers were named as Exemplary Performers with a score of more than 85% and less than 90%. 

The FEU-IL Batch 2021 Valedictorian, Mervynn Reyes, the lone FEU-IL passer also belonged to the 14 Excellent Performers with a score of more than 90%. 

“Our rating in the Bar Examinations greatly improved. From barely reaching the national average before I assumed in 2012, it has greatly progressed,” Sta. Maria stated.

Among all the achievements under his term, Sta. Maria was most proud of the environment he and the FEU-IL community had built for the institute.

“But the best achievement, I believe, is the kind of healthy and active atmosphere we now have in the Institute of Law. The professors, students, and the administration have been collaborating and cooperating positively and constructively with each other,” he shared.

Behind the decision

Time has been a big part of Sta. Maria’s decision to step down as the FEU IL dean after nearly a decade. 

According to Sta. Maria, he felt that his age, along with the rapid advancements in the field, seeks new and fresh leadership. 

“I believe that the new post-pandemic situation and also the fast-developing digital world require younger, more innovative, dedicated, and creative leadership that can more than adequately address all the challenges in this fast-changing milieu. I am 65 years old and it's time to pass the torch, so to speak,” said Sta. Maria.

In Facebook posts, Sta. Maria then acknowledged the new dean and associate dean of FEU-IL as he stepped down from the position. 

Associate dean Atty. Jose Pabition is the newly-appointed dean of the Institute while Atty. Eirene Aguilar will assume the associate dean position.

“I have seen how they [Atty. Pabitong and Atty. Aguilar] work for the best interest not only of the Institute of Law but also of the University as a whole,” he stated.

In 2013, Sta. Maria succeeded former FEU-IL dean Atty. Juan Andres Bautista. Prior to his deanship, he taught law students at the Ateneo De Manila School of Law for 27 years.

After stepping down as dean, Sta. Maria is expected to continue teaching law subjects at FEU-IL and to write new editions of his law books.

- Ralph Louise Esma

(Photo courtesy from Mel Sta Maria's Facebook)