SEVEN MONTHS INTO MY WATCH
BY DR. URDUJAH A. TEJADA, CESO II
On the day I accepted appointment as President of the Cagayan State University, I assured the Board of Regents that I would hold myself to the same exacting standards of dedication and diligence by which I have served in government virtually all of my adult life. I bade goodbye to the Department of Science and Technology, head held high in the firm conviction that I served in the best lights God gave me - never enriching myself nor the members of my family, never serving my personal interests by using the privileges and prerogatives of my office! But it is my dream - and my commitment as well - that when the time shall come for me to bow out of the university's service, the entire university community - you, my fellow CSUans - will hold your heads high with me, for, together, we shall have raised the bar and the stature of a university that should be dear to all our hearts!
My Greatest Achievement
I count as my greatest achievement - and the greatest tribute paid me as the fifth president of the university - the welcome, the kindness, the support and the solidarity of the members of the Cagayan State University in all of its eight campuses.
This is a tremendous capital of goodwill that many leaders in academe most assuredly covet - one that I have endeavored to earn by standing by my record of untainted public service and have been blessed to receive.
Our CSU community is presently made up of 1,003 teaching members, both tenured and non-tenured, and 628 administrative personnel, both tenured and non-tenured. This team served 32,658 students in the first semester of the current academic year, at the time I assumed the presidency, and 30, 267 students in the semester that has just ended. It is my joy, my pride, my mission and one of my life's greatest achievements to lead and to serve this huge but cohesive community!
All of you, my fellow CSUans are truly the wind beneath my wings, the wind that fills my sails - our sails -- propelling us onwards towards the horizon of our dreams and our aspirations! It is you I have to thank for this achievement.
Assembling a Dedicated Team
Like the government of a State, the governance of a university does not and cannot depend only on the President. In fact, a President is only as good as the team she is able to put together to provide her with counsel, oversee different departments and sections of the university, attend to the tremendous minutiae, all of which are necessary so that all the members of the academic community are properly served.
Fortune has smiled on me, and the persons I asked to join me on my team to lead the university generously accepted the work - and, as generously accepted the anxieties, the travails, the heartaches and the vicissitudes attendant to appointments and designations. As I report on the state of the university today, I am also acknowledging the invaluable contribution of all appointive and designated officials of the university who work with me that our university might flourish.
External Program and Management Review (EPMR)
While it is wise, as Socrates taught a long time ago, to be ever cognizant of one's shortcomings, particularly of one's ignorance, it is wiser still to ask experts from without - from outside the university's confines - to tell us about our strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats.
This is the reason that when the Board of Regents proposed the constitution of an External Program and Management Review panel in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 8292 that sets forth the powers of governing boards of state universities and colleges, I enthusiastically welcomed the prospect, and I lent full and unstinted cooperation to Regent Rex Navarro who was tasked to liaise between the Board and the Panel.
Outstanding researchers were identified - acknowledged both in academe as well as in institutes of research both nationally and internationally. I now wish to pay homage to Dr. Fernando Bernardo, Dr. Santiago Obien, Dr. Ponciano Batugal, Dr. William Medrano and Dr. Salvador Catelo who made up the EPMR team - and whose very wise recommendations have guided the subsequent planning activities of the university.
The EPMR proposals included valuable suggestions on strategic thrusts and the panel's assessment of our medium term development plans, the quality and relevance of instruction, research-development-extension capability, resource management, partnerships and linkages for resource mobilization and governance and management.
Action Taken on EPMR
Following the EPMR's report and recommendations, the university immediately got to work. We re-organized ourselves along lines of authority, responsibility, management, accountability and communication according to the Panel's recommendations. We have re-written our University Code and only recently finalized the revision of our Merit System and our Qualification Standards for Appointments and Promotions that are at the heart of our Academic Manual. The re-working of our Administrative Manual is about to be completed. The RDET Manual is in the works.
While a manual does not seem like very much, the fact is that the clarity of direction in action and projects, the avoidance of unnecessary overlaps and of wasteful duplication as well as the efficiency of communications, assignations of responsibility as well as of accountability all depend on clearly, coherently and systematically crafted manuals. In organizations as complex as the Cagayan State University, so much depends on reliable draftsmanship!
Administrative Council Meeting
At Sta. Ana, Cagayan, I convened the members of the Administrative Council on March 23 and 24, and there we deliberated on the key result areas and the performance indicators of different sections of the university. We discussed the promotion and advancement schemes of faculty members under the NBC 461 system and the use of Presidential Discretion or Institutional Promotion. We took a close look at the research and extension agenda and priorities of the university and agreed that it was time to reformulate our Medium Term Development and Investment Plan.
Consequently, on May 3, 4 and 5, I met with the Vice-Presidents, Campus Executive Officers, University Deans, and Planning Officers at Vigan City and there, we crafted our strategies, deliverables and targets for the next five years.
It was a time to plan, to strategize, to deliberate and to frankly exchange views. But it was also a time to bond, to get to know each other and to rejoice in the realization that, for all our differences, we are members of one big family.
At the end of the three-day strategic planning gathering, we signed our covenants. The different sections of the university pledged - not to me - but to the entire university community to achieve certain, clear, tangible and verifiable targets.
New Positions - New Appointments - New Designations
The University had requested the Department of Budget and Management for the creation of new Instructor 1 positions to ease the strain caused by the hiring of teachers under Contracts of Service. In response, the Department of Budget and Management granted us 251 new Instructor 1 positions to which we have appointed 176 members of the university community. 75 therefore remain unfilled. To these, we will make appointments in accordance with the needs of the university and its campuses, after a studied assessment of instructional demands.
Likewise, in fulfillment of the restructuring effected by the EPMR suggestions, I have designated new university officials who perform essential, differentiated functions for the university. And so that those designated do not labor under the uncertainty of being replaced at any time, deterring long-term planning and management goal-setting, we have agreed that, unless serious reasons necessitate earlier intervention, we shall allow designated officials a tenure of two years. We hope this way to contribute to stability in governance and administration, and to the very important demand of retaining institutional memory.
Bettering the Lot of CSUans
Shortly before my appointment as president, a devastating supertyphoon - Lawin -- hit Cagayan and left so many prostrate in penury and misery. Members of the CSU community were among those who suffered grievously. I directed the grant of calamity assistance to all of the employees of CSU, and once more, we encountered the challenge of laws and rules that do not allow for speedy and readily available succor in times of need. But we overcame these challenges and were happy to have extended welcome assistance to CSU's family members.
Given the limited plantilla items in comparison to the mammoth population of the university and the complexity of its operations, we depend a lot on persons who serve the university under contracts of service and job orders. They are the members of the CSU family in the most dire straits, for they are paid only for each day of service and receive nothing when there is no work. They enjoy no benefits and receive no bonuses. My team and I are happy to have been able to improve the pay scale of those under contracts of service.
The Cagayan State University has carved for itself a niche of honor in respect to licensure examinations. We have proved that medical education need not be expensive and at fees less than one-fourth those charged by leading medical schools in the country, we are among the leaders in the pack - our medical school graduates often gaining for us the distinction of achieving in the region of 70 to 90 percent passing in the medical licensure examination.
We are particularly proud of our performance in the licensure examination for Medical Technologists. For the professors and instructors of this college, it is, thankfully, no longer news for all of their graduates to give the university a 100 percent passing rate in the Medical Technology licensure tests.
We are, besides, the leading school in Veterinary Medicine in the region. Our performance in the licensure examinations for accountancy and criminology has been creditable. Law also did well this year.
But we realize that we have to raise the bar, to look at our weaknesses without flinching, and to address them with resoluteness.
The university has a total of 8 programs that are level three accredited, 6 at CSU Carig and 2 at CSU Andrews.
Recently, we submitted 9 graduate school programs for accreditation, after the university earlier asked for the accreditation of other programs. We are determined to have every single program accredited not only by the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities of the Philippines but by reputable accrediting agencies in the region, if not by international rating and accrediting firms.
Agreements with Other Agencies
It was my pride recently to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Government Procurement Policy Board that has made the Cagayan State University a center for the training of Certified Public Procurement Specialists. Henceforth, our Graduate School, with Dean Lily Tamayao at its helm, will make the Certified Public Procurement Specialist Course available - one of only six universities nationwide to do so.
Concern for the environment and the growing travails brought about by climate change made us lead in the creation of the Cagayan Valley Climate Change Consortium. With member institutions, we look forward to direct involvement in dealing with the ever-growing carbon footprint that we leave behind and are in earnest about the demands of intergenerational equity - being able to bequeath to future generations a healthful environment, a balanced ecology and the institutions of sustainable development.
Further, I would also like to promote as early as this time the future offering of a graduate program for Engineering under a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of the Philippines.
Recently, our Piat Campus received accreditation with the Department of Tourism as an accredited tourist site for Agro Tourism. Aside from acknowledging the gains the university has made in agriculture, it also places the university on the tourism map of the Philippines.
Noteworthy is the continuous linkaging the university has with DOST that provided financial assistance for equipment acquisition. Recently, DOST approved of a 900 thousand assistance for Metal Innovation Center and 500 thousand pesos for physical testing center for packaging.
For 2016 and 2017, 4.75 Million pesos was granted to the Food Innovation center and 2.6 million pesos to the metals innovation project at CSU Carig.
The university is doing well - thanks to all of you, fellow CSUans. Needless to say, there are challenges, problems, disappointments, heartaches and frustrations in operations, in management, in our relations with each other. But there are also joys and triumphs, successes and achievements aplenty. For the same of the thousands who place themselves under our care and entrusts their futures into our ministrations, we must be courageous, bold, creative and unyielding.
In respect to those problems brought about by the limited resources we have, the challenge is to make beauty emerge from humble means and modest circumstances. And we will not shy away from that challenge.
But with most other problems, what the revered John F. Kennedy said after the Cuban Missile Crisis can very well be applied to us: "Most of humankind's problems are man-made. Therefore, they can be solved by men - and women".
I will lead - and I do not ask you only to follow. I ask you to lead too, for we must lead each other in a partnership, in a community that surmounts all obstacles with a surfeit of goodwill and an ample reserve of intelligence, grit and determination.
Dios ti agyaman kadakay amin. Mabbalo nikamu ngamin
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