In simple ceremonies with biosafety protocols held last 22 March 2021 at the MNH Building, the directorship of the Museum was formally turned over by Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, curator for birds and past director to Dr. Marian P. De Leon, a curator for microbes.

Dr. De Leon, University Researcher II and curator of the Microbial Culture Collection was selected by Chancellor Jose DV. Camacho, Jr. to serve as the museum's 12th director starting 15 March 2021. Gonzalez served the Museum for two terms and is passing the baton to De Leon to "successfully fulfill the Museum's mission and goals."

During the short program held at the Museum's lobby, Dr. Gonzalez shared that his journey with the museum really started almost 30 years ago.

"My first job after finishing my BS degree was for a bird survey project of the Museum for the UP Laguna Land Grant, so serving this institution as its director is a fulfilling moment in my life. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the museum staff and curators for supporting me as I slowly stepped and grown into the big shoes of the Director for the past six years," Gonzalez intimated.

"Thank you to all the amazing staff, REPS, curators, interns, volunteers, collaborators, and donors. All of the Museum's accomplishments are because of you," he said.

The staff of the museum later presented the outgoing Director with souvenir tokens of appreciation. "I am deeply honored to receive these gifts from the museum's artists and staff, as well as being immortalized in scientific literature, with a moth, a jade vine and a cockroach named after me by the Museum's curators and researchers."

In receiving the symbols of the directorship from Dr. Gonzalez, incoming Director Dr. Marian P. De Leon said that the occasion is indeed special as it is also the first time that the Museum's turnover is done both physically and virtually.

"Despite the challenges of the present times, I am glad for the trust and confidence in me by the Chancellor and our Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, Dr. Merdelyn C. Lit," De Leon said.

"The Museum assures everyone that we will be continuing and strengthening our commitments to achieving UPLB's mission, vision and core values," she added.

Dr. De Leon also thanked Dr. Gonzalez for the "six wonderful, glorious and unselfish, dedicated years". According to her, Gonzalez' accomplishments are the reasons why she decided to continue the instituted programs instituted by Gonzalez.

"We will continue our aspirations to become a model university museum at par with global counterparts with the help of our staff and curators. The Museum is our second home and our second family, hence, we really need the help of our curators and past directors to see the silver lining despite the pandemic. And through the help of the current administration, hopefully, our dreams of having a new building will become a reality. " De Leon said during her acceptance speech.

At the end of the program, Dr. Merdelyn C. Lit, Vice-Chancellor gave some words of inspiration through video conferencing.

"I am extremely happy that you are able to hold this unique turnover even though we are in very trying times. Congratulations to the strong leadership and clear direction of Dr. Gonzalez for the past productive six years," Lit said.

"I welcome Dr. De Leon on her new assignment and I hope you will able to attain your new dreams for the museum while continuing the programs that have been set up. It will be a very big challenge to maintain that collaborative, creative and innovative environment that your predecessor has espoused. Rest assured that the current administration, with the help of your staff, curators, collaborators and friends, will support you," the Vice-Chancellor added.

According to Dr. Lit, the MNH is an important unit of the university and it is the richest, in terms of natural biological heritage. Hence, needless to say, the museum is more important in this era of rapid environmental change. While the Vice-Chancellor congratulated Dr. Gonzalez for a job well done, she said she was also glad to witness the turnover of the leadership of the museum to Dr. De Leon, a scientist homegrown in the Museum and the first REPS staff to hold the position.


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