jlbconvoc2014Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, President of the Visayas State University (VSU) System, presented a comprehensive report of his administration in his State of the University Address (SOUA) during the Annual Academic Convocation in the afternoon of July 22, 2014 at the VSU Gymnatorium.

Speaking before thousands of students, faculty and staff of the University, Dr. Bacusmo said, that “We started off so well last year that we even reaped two major awards for VSU—the Tanglaw Award, the highest institutional award given by DOST-PCAARRD, and the Eco-Friendliest or Most Sustainable School Award.”   The VSU President recalled that while he was proudly accepting the Tanglaw Award in Sofitel Hotel Manila on November 8, 2013, super typhoon Yolanda struck Leyte in which none of VSU campuses was spared from the calamity.

The VSU President relayed that he felt the pain listening to students requesting withdrawal of their enrollment because their families do not have anymore the means to support their schooling. A video clip showing the situation of some VSU students who were affected by the super typhoon Yolanda posted at the VSU website, facebook and in the youtube appealed to the audience and was able to raise PhP5-million cash and in-kind donations from friends, alumni and partners which was used to implement the cash-for-work program for affected students. “One hundred thirty-six students under this program graduated last May and 169 more are continuing their schooling under this scheme,” Dr. Bacusmo said. “We were devastated, but the devastation is not a reason for us to abandon our ambition to become one of the best, if not the best university in the Visayas,” Dr. Bacusmo lamented.

To give a much clearer grasp of the SOUA, the VSU President emphasized seven important points in his speech—access, linkages, instruction, research, extension, facility development, and caring and loving the University.

On Access, the president reported that 35% of VSU students have scholarships or some forms of assistance. He also revealed that new scholarship slots have been added to the existing scholarship programs implemented/facilitated by VSU like the International Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AACCUP, and even from Hohenheim University.

He proudly announced that under his stewardship, the University did not increase its tuition fee. “The average cost of educating student at VSU is at least PhP37,500 per year or PhP18,700 per semester. Thus, we have to work hard each year to make sure that we get enough supplemental budget from the national government and that our business operations realize profits that we can use to help sustain this University,” Dr. Bacusmo said.

He furthered that “Despite the non-increase of tuition fees, thus inadequate funds for improvement of the University, we have managed to remain excellent in instruction, research, and extension.” This was evident on the citation received by VSU from CHED-8 regarding higher education institutions with PRC licensure examination number one placers or topnotchers in the past 20 years. “One page of the program listed all the other HEIs from the region and the names of their topnotchers, while the other page of the program was solely devoted to listing VSU and its numerous topnotchers over the years,” he mused. Dr. Bacusmo also acknowledged the 2013 and 2014 topnotchers in the PRC licensure exams as well as VSU’s accomplishment as the first-ever university in the country whose Agriculture program has been accredited Level IV by the AACCUP. He also informed the audience that a group of computer science graduates of VSU is being commissioned to work on computerization of enrollment, student grading, and record management.

On Linkages, he revealed that VSU linkages with other universities remain strong. One of which is the VSU-TUAT linkage. He also mentioned some universities outside the country with whom VSU has strong connections either for research collaboration or the On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs, such as Hiroshima University, University of Arkansas, Hohenheim University, and some countries like the Netherlands and Israel that accept OJT for VSU students.

The University President revealed that he will push for the approval of the doubling or 100% increase of the stipend and thesis allowance of faculty members who wish to avail of VSU Fellowship program in the second quarter meeting of the VSU Board of Regents.

In Research, Dr. Bacusmo pointed out that research is another area that sets VSU apart from the other SUCs and HEIs. With the retirement of many VSU research professors, he considers the need to train young instructors and professors who will continue doing research and extension.

Among the research initiatives being pursued by the University include: coconut where millions of trees were lost to Cocolisap and super typhoon Yolanda; 3D-mapping using light detection in ranging that can be used for disaster risk assessment reduction and management; generating high resolution maps through aerial imaging by launching drones with cameras in partnership with the Ateneo de Manila University; continuation of the project on “Increasing Climate Change Resilience of Marginal Hilly Lands in Inopacan, Leyte”; transferring of the vacuum frying and dehydrating jackfruit of technologies to the Baybay Women’s Association and to Mr. Job Abuyabor of Mahaplag, Leyte, respectively; and the commercialization of sweetpotato wine and sweetpotato pickles technologies by some groups of students via TBI.

In Extension, Dr. Bacusmo revealed that the University is being looked up as technology provider for super typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation efforts of aid-agencies and national-line agencies. The National Abaca Research Center and the National Coconut Research Center are busy propagating thousands of planting materials that VSU has committed to PCA and to FAO for distribution to famers. Moreover, five million cuttings and planting materials of root crops will be produced and distributed to Yolanda-affected farms this year. VSU is also involved in providing livelihood to agrarian reform communities, and supports the capability building of ViCARP-member agencies in land use planning.

On Facility Development, every day you see this campus redesigned and rearranged as we pursue repairs, renovation and new construction. We have renovated the VSU Guesthouse; still renovating the VSU Pavilion and we plan to acquire a sound system, electric guitar, keyboard, and beat box for students’ use every Friday to hone their talents in playing musical instruments and singing; repaired the roofs of 25 classrooms of VSU-Tolosa Campus; started building the Olympic-size swimming pool; completed converting the greenhouse into the Department of Community Development and Extension; renovated the Convention Hall; started the construction of additional dormitory and staff apartment; and the on-going construction of the new library.

The president reiterated that he has not forgotten his promise to establish covered walks that will connect buildings, and to build more sports facilities before the end of his term. For the other three satellite campuses, the president will continue the renovation and conversion of the former library into a conference hall and build a new building with 12 rooms in VSU-Isabel, while VSU-Alangalang and VSU-Villaba buildings will undergo improvements.

Dr. Bacusmo also revealed that out of the PhP48.2-million share from DAP, new buildings shall be constructed such as the animal hospital for the College of Veterinary Medicine, a food innovation laboratory for the Department of Food Science and Technology, a technology business incubator or entrepreneurship laboratory for the College of Management and Economics, and one technical laboratory each for the satellite campuses.

Finally, he talked about Loving and Caring the University. Dr. Bacusmo emphasized everyone’s responsibility in keeping the University clean and beautiful. He encouraged all VSU constituents to help in maintaining cleanliness at the Eco Park as well as at the VSU Market. “We want to make this campus a better place for you, thus we put in place restrictions and regulations,” he said. Among these are: one-time use plastic in the market and bringing reusable bags or even net bags; forbidding students and the public to drink liquors and alcoholic beverages and to smoke cigarettes inside the campus; strolling around the campus half-naked; and leashing of pet dogs. He also reminded the faculty and staff, whose children insisted to smoke inside the campus, to reprimand them from those vices. “Parents, I know it is not easy but keep reminding your kids before this will have consequences on your living inside the campus and your integrity,” the University President stressed.

Moreover, the president reminded the VSU officials, instructors and professors, to respect those who are under their care—the weak and the vulnerable such as the students and the rank and file employees. He underscored that we cannot allow those with ascendancy or authority to abuse trust and confidence bestowed on them over students and employees whom they are suppose to respect, protect and nurture.

Dr. Bacusmo appealed to everybody to work together and keep the campus beautiful, peaceful, and a place where each of us can dream and make our dreams come true.