The 88th Foundation Day of the Visayas State University (VSU) would be something different in all foundation day celebrations of the institution. The number 8 in the ordinal adjective 88th connotes "infinity" or "without end" and the number is doubled. The University has decided that since the number 8 is doubled it might as well need to have two anniversary speakers during the 88th VSU Anniversary Convocation Program in the morning of August 11, 2012.

 

Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo, the first president of the then Visayas State College of Agriculture (ViSCA), now VSU, from 1974 to 1984, will also be one of the anniversary convocation speakers. One of Dr. Bernardo's major achievements was the development of ViSCA from a small agricultural college to a major agricultural complex and center of excellence dedicated to the welfare of the small Visayan farmers. He was instrumental in transforming ViSCA into a research University.

During his stint as ViSCA President, Dr. Bernardo spearheaded the establishment of the Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PRCRTC now PhilRootcrops), the Regional Abaca Research Center now the NARC, and the Regional Coconut Research Center now the NCRC-Visayas. He also organized the Visayas Coordinated Agricultural Research Program (VICARP) for Regions VII and VIII, now Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Resources Program, involving various agencies and research centers, both public and private, and served as its first Research Coordinator. He serves as consultant of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) since 1999. He then served as IRRI's Deputy Director General for International Programs. Dr. Bernardo also changed IRRI's strategy from focusing only on irrigated rice research to addressing the problems of different rice ecosystems especially in marginal areas where millions of the poorest of the poor dwell.

Since 2007 up to the present, he chairs the Technical Working Group of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Dr. Bernardo also served as Deputy Minister of the then Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS), now DepEd; chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Eastern Philippines, Leyte State College now LNU, Leyte Institute of Technology now EVSU, ViSCA, Polompon Institute of Technology, and the Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology now Northwest Samar State University.

Among the key positions he held in some prestigious institutions included: director of SEARCA; president of the Asian Association of Agricultural Colleges and Universities; president of PASUC; president of ACAP; dean of UP College of Agriculture; and deputy director general for Programs and Operations of PCARRD now PCAARRD.

He has been a recipient of numerous awards from various award-making bodies here and abroad. These included, among others, medal from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; Plaque of Appreciation given by Dr. R.D. Havener, Director General of IRRI; Plaque of Deep Appreciation given by the Governor of the Institute of National Resilience, The Republic of Indonesia; SANDIGAN Award given by ViSCA; Outstanding Service Award given by SEARCA; Most Distinguished UPLB Alumnus; Benefactor Award (Tagatangkilik Award) given by the ViSCA Educational Foundation, Inc.; PANTAS Award for research administration given by PCARRD; and the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award for Genetics and Plant Breeding given by the Philippine Jaycees.

The guest speaker also wrote 15 books and edited ten, authored/co-authored 24 scientific/technical papers and 55 articles published in various refereed journals with national and international circulations. Among the books he wrote included: the VISCA: History and Analysis of Institution Building (with Dr. Emiliana N. Bernardo); Management of Research and Extension Programs in Agricultural Universities (with Dr. Milagros C. Bales); UPLB: A Century of Challenges and Achievements; Centennial Panorama: A Pictorial History of UPLB; etc.

He also attended in various local and international fora and conferences either as organizer and/or chairman, consultant and participant.

Dr. Bernardo finished his Ph. D. degree in Genetics from the North Carolina State University, USA as a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar. He got his Master of Science (Plant Breeding) and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Agronomy) from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Dr. Bernardo is happily married to Dr. Emiliana N. Bernardo. They have four children—Dan, Rex (the first Summa Cum Laude graduate of ViSCA), Rey, and Amy.