Though he has been officially functioning as VSU President effective October 30, 2015 after being voted by the majority of the members of the VSU Board of Regents (BOR) chaired by CHED Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan, Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin, 6th VSU President, had only been formally installed into office on January 27, 2016 through an Investiture Rites at the VSU Gymnatorium.

Cloaked in an academic gown, Dr. Tulin was accorded with the Scroll of Appointment and the University Mace by CHED Commissioner Maria Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, who was designated by Dr. Licuanan to sit as VSU BOR Chair.  The Presidential Medallion was given by Dr. Dominador O. Aguirre, Jr., PASUC 8 Chairman and President of the Eastern Visayas State University. 

Aside from his immediate family members who stood at his side during the ceremony—Dr. Anabella Bautista-Tulin, Edrian Paolo, Ea Kristine Clarisse, and Edelle Marie—the occasion was attended by some guests from the government and private sectors including some presidents and representatives of the different state universities and colleges in Eastern Visayas and Central Visayas, family friends, relatives, and the VSU System constituents.  Former presidents of VSU were also present, namely: Dr. Samuel S. Go, Dr. Paciancia P. Milan, and Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo.

Other VSU BOR members present included Dir. Bonifacio G. Uy (Executive Director, NEDA-8), Hon. Emmanuel R. de Guia who represented Hon. Pia S. Cayetano, Dr. Luz O. Moreno (President, VSU Faculty Association), Mr. Deogracias E. Pernitez (President, VSU Alumni Association), Mr. Dexter P. Relevo (President, USSC), Atty. Roy Bernard C. Fiel (Private Sector Representative), and Mr. Joel R. Caminade (Private Sector Representative).

Prior to the formal installation ceremony, a concelebrated mass was held in the same venue with Msgr. Antonio M. Gaviola as the main celebrant, together with Rev. Fr. Brian C. Flandez, Rev. Fr. Andres T. Aragon, Jr., Rev. Fr. Amiel M. Borneo, Rev. Fr. Noel T. Lao, and Rev. Fr. Dennis Cagantas, as co-celebrants.

 In his message, Dr. Tulin expressed his elation for the memorable occasion that he never expected to come into his life.  This is the full text of the VSU President’s address:

“I am proud, honored and humbled to stand before you today.  Proud because I know the remarkable history of this institution and the many accomplishments that it has achieved; honored because you have placed your trust in me; and humbled because I know that the journey that has brought me here has not been mine alone. So many of you, either as friends, as mentors, and as supporters, had travelled with me. Many of you have supported my goals and aspirations for the good of this University.

An investiture is not about an individual. It is about a moment in history, a moment for Visayas State University to celebrate our past, examine our present and envision our future. It is a time to renew our commitments to the values and goals that helped this University thrives for nearly a century. It is also a time to imagine the possibilities of our future as we prepare to embark for the second century.

I stand here eternally grateful to my parents for giving me the values that guide my daily life. They really never prepared me for this position.  They simply gave what I needed by living their lives the way they did—with integrity and compassion.

For me and my family, this is a powerful personal experience of which we are honored to be part of. I thank my wife Anabelle for we have been partners and a team for more than 23 years.  I would not be on the stage today if it were not for her commitment to keep our family balanced, and for her all out support as I have taken on increasingly larger challenges. I thank you Belle for your love and for seeing the possibilities in me that I could not see.  Belle and I are blessed with three children (Edrian, Ea and Edelle) who are undergraduate students of VSU and who have been very supportive in my appointment as President of this institution.  The three of them are studying here because we believe that they will get the best education, training, and values from this University, as what their mother and I had experienced being graduates of VSU.  I would like also to thank the special friend of Ea, Mr. Yusuke Namiki, who came all the way from Japan; and to Ms. Angel Caoctoy, Edrian’s special friend, for sharing this special day with us.

It is also a great privilege to share this day with three of my predecessors—Dr. Samuel S. Go, Dr. Paciencia P. Milan, and Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo. Thank you for your contributions in transforming VSU into what it is today.   I also salute our distinguished faculty, our dedicated staff and members of my administrative team. What a great University you have built.  To our students and alumni who come from across the country, thank you for making this University your home. And to the friends of VSU, our civic and political leaders, thank you for embracing this University as your own.

I am grateful to our current Board of Regents. Thank you for selecting me. I know that you are the smartest Board. I am honored and I do promise that I will not let you down.

Humble Beginnings

On this day, as we prepare to envision our future, let us take a moment to reflect on our past.  Just as my personal journey has been shaped by many mentors and many circumstances, the journey of VSU has also been shaped by many visionaries.  Today is the time to salute them.

VSU was established in 1924 as the Baybay Agricultural School (BAS) through a Provincial Board Resolution and converted into the Baybay Agricultural High School (BAHS) in 1934 to provide education locally to working men and women and their sons and daughters. The school was later on converted into the Baybay National Agricultural School in 1938, then the Visayas Agricultural College (VAC) in 1960.

The institution attained rapid growth and development following its conversion into the Visayas State College of Agriculture (ViSCA) on May 24, 1974 through Presidential Decree (PD) No. 470 under the leadership of its first president, Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo. In 1999, ViSCA became the Leyte State University (LSU) through the great efforts of our congresswoman, the Hon. Carmen L. Cari, who is now the City Mayor of Baybay.  Later on, LSU was renamed as the Visayas State University (VSU) in which four higher education institutions in the province of Leyte were integrated into the University to create a five-campus University System.

In 1977, when I first set foot in this University as a first year undergraduate student, there were only about 400 students enrolled in the campus. Today, there are more than 8,000 students in the main campus and another 4,000 or more students in the branch campuses. We have already grown that big.

Guided by our mission to provide access, we have expanded our course offerings and have reached to wider aspirations of students in realizing their dreams. I’d like to recognize my predecessors—Dr. Fernando A. Bernardo, Dr. Marianito R. Villanueva, Dr. Samuel S. Go, Dr. Paciencia P. Milan, and Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo— who led this University through explosive growth marked by the exponentially increasing enrolment and for sustaining the excellence of VSU despite overwhelming challenges.

Today, VSU is one of the leading universities in the country. This achievement did not come overnight.  It came about through the relentless efforts and hard work of our former administrators. To name a few, we have been institutionally-accredited by AACCUP, Level IV for Agriculture, Level III re-accredited in many programs, Center of Excellence in Agriculture, and Center of Development in Development Communication. The University is also the only university in the Philippines that is a member of the Exchange by Promoting Quality Education, Research and Training in South and South-East Asia (EXPERTS), an international academic collaboration funded by the European Union.

In Research, VSU is the lead institution of VICARP and host to two national research centers: the PhilRootcrops and the National Abaca Research Center; regional research centers, namely: National Coconut Research Center-Visayas, Tuklas Lunas Development Center, Renewable Energy Research Center, and the Regional Climate Change Research Center.

Focus on the Future

I stand here today looking at the next chapter of this incredible journey. Who we are now and what we are made of, our character and values will define what we become tomorrow. We are, first and foremost, a place where learning is natural; where discoveries are happening; and where community engagement takes on a new meaning.

Currently, we add nearly a thousand graduates to the workforce every year. Many of our graduates are sought after because of their skills and qualifications. Our graduates in agriculture and related disciplines have been occupying leadership positions and making a name in the government and in the industry. Our faculty and researchers are publishing articles, doing relevant research, and producing outputs in support of the regional priorities and national agenda.

However, this is not the end of the story. Our next chapter is yet to be written. What will that be? No matter what we write together, one thing is certain. This chapter is going to be big and this chapter is going to be bold. There is a well-known quotation which reads and I quote, “Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul”. Well, it is time for the University to stir the soul of higher education in the region to contribute to nation building, and, consequently, be at par with our neighbors in the ASEAN region.

Our nation faces three significant challenges in higher education. These are: affordable access, innovation, and quality.

Access to Higher Education

We know that a vast number of students are not graduating from college. Some do not even embark on the journey because they don’t believe they can. Some believe they can but never take the first step. Yet, others take the first step but never finish the journey. No matter what the underlying cause may be, one thing is certain. We have not done enough. We have not done enough to educate the vast number of our human resource. It is essential that we make higher education accessible and affordable. In today’s world where knowledge is power, higher education is not a luxury. It is a necessity. We at VSU acknowledge this challenge and do declare that our first priority is the student’s success. We pledge to provide access to students to any level of educational aspirations. We pledge to provide our students the best educational experience to prepare them to the realities outside of school. The implementation of the Outcomes-Based Education in all of our programs will provide the students the skills that are needed to be highly competitive in the global marketplace. We support the implementation of the K-12 program to provide foundation to our students for higher learning or make them understand and better appreciate their talents and skills. Today, we dedicate this investiture to our students and their dreams and pledge to provide scholarships, affordable education, and enabling environment towards their success.

Innovation

To be globally competitive, the University has to exert more efforts in creating innovation in all of its four core functions: instruction, research, community engagement (extension), and resource generation (production). Innovative approaches in teaching have already been introduced and implemented in many of our schools in the country. However, many concerns and improvements are still left to be desired. The implementation of the Outcomes-Based Education surely is the right direction, but getting the qualified and competent faculty to teach our students is still needed. Long-distance learning, which has been going on for sometime, has also not taken off in VSU due to lack of time for our faculty experts to develop instructional materials for said delivery method. We pledge to vigorously continue to encourage and support faculty and student exchange from recognized research universities locally and abroad to develop their capabilities. We also pledge to provide full internet connectivity and basic infrastructure to support this goal.

              Innovation in research involves inventive thinking and creative experimentation. Research in the academia remains a prime source of knowledge and innovation in the local, regional, national, and international arena. VSU’s position as a home to national and regional research centers is strategic in pursuing research for wider benefits. We pledge to provide time and resources to faculty doing research and increase benefits for publications in peer-reviewed journal and patent applications. Likewise, the University has to establish a mechanism where industry can freely collaborate with researchers without jeopardizing the interests of the University, and encourage them to finance student research or internship programs. To further enhance our competency, the University has to invite and provide incentives for foreign researchers to do advanced research and collaboration with our faculty as co-researchers. We started doing this with our joint researches with Australian, Japanese and European scientists.

            In community engagement, the knowledge generated by research can significantly contribute to sustainable social development. A major challenge for VSU’s extension effort is on how to sustain the knowledge systems that have been shared to our beneficiaries. Impact assessment studies are still lacking to show what efforts or interventions are still needed to ensure widespread benefits of the technology or good practices that have been introduced. There may be a need to mobilize a new generation of researcher-extension workers or develop innovative interaction between researcher, extension worker, society, and industry.

             In resource generation, our challenge in VSU is to further nurture and develop a network of linkages that we have established in our effort to forge close collaboration among stakeholders, funders, industry, and the national government bearing in mind promotion of quality and innovation as the desired end.

Today we dedicate this investiture to our faculty and staff and their dreams.  We pledge to provide scholarships, training and enabling environment towards their success through the so-called “Employees for Success” Program.  After all, the success of the employees is the success of the University.

Innovation Laboratories

Creativity, knowledge discovery, commercialization of research, and application of knowledge are the tangible outcomes of innovation that the University has to support and nurture. These outcomes have the capacity to shape our future in 10, 20 or 50 years from now and in ways that we cannot imagine today.

We will strengthen our research by establishing Innovation Laboratories in the research complex. This will provide an enabling environment for our faculty, researchers and students in our pursuit for excellence -- excellence in faculty, excellence in research and creative capacity, excellence in educational programming and learning environment, as well as excellence in our partnership with the community, including the industry.

Environment Conservation Hub

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world experiencing an average of 20 typhoons per year. Our country is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In fact, the Philippines ranked no. 3 in the World Index Report of 2013.  Climate change is a development issue that threatens the gains and economic development attained in past decades. Agriculture, for instance, which relies on a stable and regular weather patterns will be adversely affected, if such pattern is disrupted by climate change.

There are many initiatives and programs which VSU had started in the past and have been continued until this time. The rainforestation program conceived and developed by our former President Milan which has been recognized by Yale University, various efforts and programs of the College of Forestry and Environmental Science including the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Environmental Management, the hosting and implementation of the PhilLIDAR project of DOST, and the establishment of the Regional Climate Change Center under the leadership of  my immediate predecessor, Dr. Bacusmo, to name a few are some of the programs that the University has spearheaded in response to the call for a more responsive action towards addressing Climate Change and Environment Conservation. We pledge to support, strengthen, and increase our involvement by dedicating a so-called Environment Conservation Hub in the University. We envision to mobilizing the researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders to create a bigger impact not only for the region but also for the nation. 

Local-Global Competitiveness (Quality Education)

VSU’s commitment to the City of Baybay, 5th Congressional District of Leyte, and to the region should be continuously strengthened and affirmed. We will continue to develop our branch campuses and their respective banner programs to cater to the needs of the local communities. As the demand for undergraduate and professional education programs has grown, we endeavor to make good on our local commitment. Consistent with the efforts of the government to implement the Outcomes-Based Education and the introduction of the K-12 program this school year, VSU is steadfast in its commitment to deliver these programs to achieve the quality and required competency of our graduates that would prepare them for higher education and globalization.

But focusing only on the local is not sufficient. Our students are graduating into a globally competitive environment. They must be equipped with the skills and competencies that will enable them to compete with graduates of our neighboring countries.

To accomplish our objectives, our efforts will have to go beyond our classroom. We have a bold vision. How will this bold vision be achieved and become a reality? It will take this entire community to lift the Visayas State University to greater heights. Your commitment and passion have the power to transform VSU into a nationally and globally competitive University. To dream anything less is to short change our students, our region, and our nation, and we cannot do that.

Conclusion

In closing, allow me again to thank all of you for your presence today. I thank those who have vested me today with all your warmth, trust, goodness and love.

We cannot end without acknowledging with gratitude those who are also with us via live streaming. There are also those who are listening now from various parts of the world via webcast. I would like to thank all of you. My sincere gratitude also goes to all my staff in the Office of the President, Vice President Danny Tudtud, the chairman of the Investiture Committee, and to the various committees of this investiture.  Above all, I thank GOD for this opportunity that He has given me to serve this University.

Have a great day everyone and mabuhay tayong lahat.”