Full transcript of the Address by VSU President Jose L. Bacusmo, delivered on the Annual Academic Convocation of VSU on July 9, 2013 at the VSU Gym.

 

Our dynamic vice presidents, Reverend Pastor David Cosmiano, deans of colleges, dean of students, dean of the graduate school, deans of satellite campuses, directors of research, director of extension and of research centers and administrative units, members of the VSU Administrative Council, student regent, Mr. Clar Don Evangelio, faculty regent-Dr. Luz Moreno, fellow faculty members and staff, students, a pleasant afternoon.

It is indeed a privilege to be with you again to report to you the state of our University, our plans and how we as a family are bridging our vision and action.

The report is outlined this way: We start with Access to Quality Higher Education. And then we will ta;k about Faculty Development. And Quality Assurance. Then Research and Development. Facility Development. Then, Improving Income Streams. Strengthening Governance. And The way forward.

Don’t worry. I was so busy practicing. Actually we only sang once. We only sang together once as a practice. So I have a shorter speech this afternoon. Normally, I prepare a 20 page speech. Now it’s only 19.

First of all, let me welcome the biggest batch of new and returning students of the Visayas State University. Let us welcome them with big round of applause.

 

Access to Quality Higher Education

The enrolment figure is both delightful and frightening to us who are in the administration. We are happy to see the number of students choosing for the first time to study at VSU and the number of students deciding to return to VSU for another year grew exponentially. At the same time we are apprehensive when we think about our limitations in dormitories, eateries, classrooms, sports facilities and even teachers.

Notwithstanding the limitations, I truly believe that you and your parents have made the best decision to choose VSU over other universities and colleges.

You are in the only Level IV University in the region. A university that is well-designed, crafted and organized to preparing young and even old minds to rewarding careers. You are in a university which will exert all efforts not only to pass knowledge and teach you skills but also to forge your characters, imbue you with right values and develop in you a lifestyle of excellence and dedicated service that in the future will make you highly sought and treasured workers, entrepreneurs, researchers and even public servants.

This university was founded to fulfil a mandate of making affordable quality education accessible, especially to those who have less in life.

We know that many of our students here are sons and daughters of ordinary people who understand that in this age, a college education is indispensable to their children. Many of you are the first in the family to pursue college education and your families are hoping that you succeed in your studies, find jobs and earn enough to help your siblings also enter into college and pull the family out of poverty.

Last week end, my son, Joseph and company were preparing their advertisements of their 1BRO business and their slogan is “Opportunities don’t need to be costly”. I buy to that slogan. Opportunities to learn, to earn and to rise beyond poverty should not be costly.

I am proud to say that on providing access to quality education, our action is louder than our words. Since assuming the stewardship of this university, we have not increased the tuition fees and we will not increase it next year.

The VSU University Student Services Office is doubling its efforts to obtain more scholarships for our students and they are successful. Today more than 25% of our students have some kind of scholarships or grants in aide. 

This morning, we have a very important visitor from IRRI. And they are offering scholarship. They will start with five slots this semester. And add more next semester. The monthly stipend is four thousand pesos.

And also, as really very generous, they will also give uniform allowance and book allowance. So that will be open next semester, to be followed the following semester after next.

The increasing enrolment indicates that VSU is successful in getting more people like you onto the path towards quality education but more than that we, the faculty and staff of VSU, have to ensure that you cross the finish line. Thus, I am calling to our faculty members: teach our students well and do not fail to submit your grades on time. I’ve learned that some students lost their scholarships just because the instructors and professors did not submit their grades on time. What a waste and what a shame.

To some, scholarship could be their only hope for their continued stay in VSU. I know that for I was in that situation when I was in College in this very university of ours. Thus it pains me to hear this is happening under my stewardship.

 

Faculty Development

Here at VSU, we should always put our student first. Putting our student first means exerting all efforts to provide them with the best teaching staff.

I’ve said in a number of occasions that the strength of a university is determined by the strength of its faculty.

In recent years, VSU has been reeling from the retirement of our faculty members with PhDs. Our massive faculty development in the 70s and 80s has led to massive retirement today.

Beginning this year, we put in place two measures designed to sustain and even strengthen our teaching staff in the long run.

First, we are putting more funds for faculty scholarship. We have added one million pesos this year to faculty and staff development fund and look forward to raise further this investment in the coming years.

Second, we have revised our recruitment policies in order to attract more applicants with PhDs.The Board of Regents of VSU recently approved the granting of positions commensurate to the qualifications and experience of new recruits with PhD. Nevertheless, this university still has a very strong faculty profile among SUCs not only regionally but nationally. But we cannot just sit and watch it dwindle.

 

Quality Assurance

Aside from strong faculty and staff, we also want to assure you that you get quality higher education in this university. Towards this goal, we periodically review and subject our curricula and programs to evaluation to ascertain their relevance and guarantee their quality.

Last year, all of our campuses subjected programs to accreditation. This year, we will push even harder on quality assurance in the main as well as in our satellite campuses.Thus, within September to December this year, we will have the phase 2 for the Level IV accreditation of our agriculture, education and graduate programs. We will also have the visit of three other programs for level IV accreditation and nine (9) programs for level II accreditation. In our satellite campuses, 11 programs will undergo accreditation this year.

We will also push hard in the application for Center of Development (COD) and Center of Excellence (COE). I am proud to announce that just recently, the Development Communication program of VSU was awarded the Center of Development status by CHED.

 

Facility Development

We know that learning requires not only professors and quality curricula but also adequate facilities. Thus, our program of repairing, renovating and building additional facilities for instruction, research and students is continuous. Among the projects, let me mention some:

  1. The renovation and repair of high school building is almost completed. If you go around the high school building, you will see that all the rooms are tiled and the windows are grilled and freshly painted. Let us congratulate Dr. Rolando Arpilleda and the Parents-Teachers Association of the VLHS.
  2. The Construction of the new library is well on its way. I think you see that everyday. 
  3. Also the renovation and repair of the faculty and staff office of the Department of PM isx about to be completed- about 90% completed. 
  4. The repainting and repair of roofs of academic and research buildings is on-going. We have completed the ISRDS roof. We have completed the PhilRootcrops roof. And now we’re working on the College of Education building.
  5. We’re reroofing also the NSTP building and it’s on-going.
  6. And we’ve just started the building of an Olympic-size swimming pool. 
  7. We have just completed the groundwork for the construction of new dormitory between Kanlaon and Sampaguita dormitories.
  8. Also we have completed the groundwork for the construction of studio apartments next to Warner Apartments. 
  9. And it’s ongoing, we are doing the groundwork for the establishment of two new basketball courts, two volleyball courts and one or two tennis courts in the upper campus just outside this gym.
  10. We also have started the repairs of screen houses and will be converting some of the screen houses in front of ITEEM—Institute of Tropical Ecology and Environmental Management—into additional academic offices and class rooms.
  11. The construction of concrete benches at the eco-park is on going
  12. And we have more numbered street lights are in place. You notice our streetlights now have numbers at the base. And it is designed so you can report easily which lamp post is not functioning. So that’s the purpose of that.
  13. We’re also doing the repair of former Quirol Cottage and that will be the residence later of the cottage of Prof. Tudtud. He gave up the former Bow cottage. And that gave way for the construction of the fourth core value cottage. 
  14. And we are also fencing the Animal Science area. It just started, and it will extend up to the Fore area. 
  15. We are also about to be done in the construction of phase 2 of the computer building. I think it just needsrepainting.
  16. And we have completed and in fact this is already occupied: The construction of an extension of the OVPRE 

In our satellite campuses, there are also several developments but it is for you to see when you visit our satellite campuses.

 

Research and Development

Our university is known not only for quality instruction but also of relevant and innovative research and extension program. We owe this to our extraordinarily inventive and talented faculty and staff.

Although Dr. Capuno has already mentioned this, let me mention some of the VSU R&D projects and initiatives:

  1. We have the PherNet Project – In this project, we wish to develop technologies that will improve productivity of denuded uplands like that in Inopacan Leyte.
  2. We will be launching the Tuklas Lunas Discovery Center.The center will focus on identifying plants and compounds with medicinal potentials.
  3. And we have the ACIAR Projects –In no other period is our partnership with the Australians stronger. Today we have two big projects funded. Each of these projects is funded to the tune of two million Australian dollars, and three more are coming up. The project even allowed VSU to add another analytical laboratory dedicated to the watershed project, situated in the Forestry building.
  4. We also have funding from PCAARRD and Technomart and Community Based Science and Techology Farms.We SUCs have always this problem of bringing research results to market. With funding from PCAARRD, we will be able to pilot transfer of technology to private entrepreneurs and be able to strengthen the backward integration of the business.
  5. We will also be launching the Alternative Energy Center and electrification of isolated places VSU is one of the partners of the Department of Energy. And the Center will showcase alternative energy sources similar to energy sources that are electrifying isolated places in Region VIII.
  6. We have recently got the approval of the Board of Regents for the Establishment of Climate Change Center – This is a center, however, that still need nourishment, as this is new.
  7. We have also started the construction of  HatcheryThis is supposed to be established by Baybay City, But Congressman Cari and BFAR agreed to put this at VSU. This hatchery will serve as source of fingerlings of Tilapia for Baybayanos.
  8. We are also helping DAR in the livelihood projects of CARP beneficiaries in Leyte, Biliran and Samar Islands.

In the past 12 months, the university faculty and staff garnered several awards—regional, national and even international. But I will not mention the awards because it will take a lot of time. So I will move to improving income streams of VSU.

 

Improving Income Streams

To make all of the developments happen, we need to improve our income streams. I am happy to inform you that our businesses are doing well.

If you will look at the table, the ROI for 161 is 12%; for 164, is 50%.

The office has also expanded the coconut nursery as we have signed with PCA a contract for 100,000 coconut seedlings worth 2.6M.

The net income, if you will look, is still insignificant compared to our Government Annual Appropriation but is very helpful complement in funding for infrastructures and other needs of the industry. 

Not to make more money but to serve you better, the university has started renovating the Fast Food Center—I know you have several complaints about the FastFood Center. In the next two months, it will be different. And they have started renovating the Pavilion. And soon they will have an airconditioned area and an open area.

 

Improving Governance

Other than the instruction, research, extension and resource generation we also need to improve our governance, our environment, we have to protect our lead and protect the overall image of this university.

Towards improving governance, the university has

  1. Launched last year the VSU Quest for CSC Seal of Excellence. We have to be good not only in instruction, but also in administration. And it occurred to me, that maybe I need to repeat again to our faculty and staff: please serve with a smile. I have received a number of complaints lately that you’re not smiling when you are serving them.
  2. We have signed the memorandum that will trigger the revision of University Code.
  3. And we will issue the memorandum for the revision of the Student Handbook.
  4. We have also designed our offices such that offices have glass walls to ensure transparency. I hope I will not see glass walls and windows covered with curtains. The reason why we designed your offices such that you can be seen from the corridors is to ascertain that if any untoward incident happens while you are inside your office, your office mate will know it and will be able to help you. Moreover, it is designed to protect you from being accused of sexual harassment. The law can be harsh and we don’t want you to commit such acts or be unfairly accused.

 

The Way Forward

You know, the problem of this administration of ours is its propensity and audacity to dream. We outline programs each year and pressure ourselves to accomplish those. For dreams should not remain as dreams and promises should be fulfilled. Actually, it’s not necessary, because whatever I said last year, I’m sure most of you have forgotten about it. Last year, I made some promises and some of those are not yet on the ground. So I want to get the nod of Dr. Guarte and Mrs. Lemos on this:

  • Before September, streets of VSU will have their names.  The heaviest of the Superintendents, OICs and Presidents I suppose will have the longest street or probably an avenue.
  • Before the end of September, the Agriculture Developnent Education will have a new office next to the Biology Department.
  • Before the end of September, the famous or infamous Physics Lab would have been renovated.
  • Before the end of this year, the Science Lecture Hall would have been renovated
  • And before the end of the year, the covered walk will at least be started. Maybe you will be clapping again next year when I say it will be started. But now it will be started.

On top of the upcoming facility improvement, we will also revive the DYAC so our DevCom students will have enough practice in broadcasting and we will launch our online program initially delivering the Land Administration course.

On improving our environment, we have at least improve our solid waste disposal facility, we are implementing the ban on one-time use plastic. I want to clarify. We are just banning the one-time use plastic. This is the plastic bag that is very thin. And we are encouraging you to use reusable bags even if you will use netbags. It’s plastic but reusable, We are banning only the one time use plastic.

And within this year we will resort back to segregation of garbage in our residences but this time we also segregate their disposal. And we have prepared, you can see now the blue trash bins. We are preparing green trash bins for the biodegrable. So even the trash bins along the streets will be color coded. And the biodegradable will go to the green trash bin and the nonbiodegradable will go to the blue trash bins. It pains me to see that many of our students irresponsibly throw their trash anywhere. Instructors and professors, please make it a point to remind your student the proper way of disposing their trash. A real VSU student knows how to dispose trash properly.

Last year I was talking about amalgamation, or the integration of all SUCs in the region. In the region, we are assuming the leadership towards amalgamation of SUCs or the organization of the University System of Eastern Visayas. We recently had the consultative meeting and it seems like most of the SUC presidents are amenable to the model of amalgamation that VSU is proposing. The model allows the retention of the imminence of presidents in their respective campuses, the retention of the names of each university. The model also put greater separation of policy making and operation decision making and will call for more focused development of flagship course of each component colleges or university. Moreover, the model brings into the system fold the local government unit colleges.

In summary, the university is in excellent state and we in the administration are filled with tremendous measure of hope and optimism that tomorrow will be better. We are confident that we as a family can work together in making this university a better place for all of us. A place where we can dream and successfully bridge our vision and action. Thank you very much.