The Catanduanes State University (CatSU), formerly Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC), has evolved as the only premier Public Higher Education Institution in the province of Catanduanes since the enactment of Republic Act 3398 which called for the establishment of Virac National Agricultural Trade School (VNATS); until a decade later, when then Catanduanes Congressman Jose M. Alberto authored Republic Act 6341 which converted VNATS into Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) on June 19, 1971. The ultimate dream of every Catandunganon was to have a university in the island. Congressman Alberto started to work on the fulfilment of that dream but prevailing economic and political climate at that time prevented him and he had to settle for the creation of the CSC instead.
The academic institution has two campuses within the island-province of Catanduanes. The main campus is located at Calatagan Proper in the capital town of Virac; and the other campus, the CatSU–Panganiban Campus (formerly CAIC), is located in the northern municipality of Panganiban in Catanduanes. The institution is categorized as SUC-Level III-A. It is now considered as a comprehensive Higher Education Institution in Catanduanes, and acknowledged as one of the dynamic SUCs in the Bicol region offering a wide range of academic programs.
The school started functioning as a tertiary educational institution on December 1, 1971. It initially offered courses such as Associate in Business Education, Associate in Commerce, Bachelor of Science in Education, Master of Arts in Education, and Master of Arts in Commerce. Additional courses were offered on July 8, 1972 by virtue of RA 6590. On July 22, 1996, the Tenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines enacted and approved Republic Act No. 8292 which provided for the uniform composition and powers of the governing board, the manner of appointment and the term of office of the President of chartered state universities and colleges, and for other purposes.
On October 31, 1999, the Catanduanes Agricultural and Industrial College (CAIC) in Panganiban, Catanduanes, was integrated to the CSC. The move was in conformity with the Special Provision No. 2 of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) FY 1999 Budget under the General Appropriations Act of 1999. In 1993, CAIC was renamed as CSC Panganiban Campus as an offshoot of the approved Revised Organizational Structure per Board Resolution No. 15, s. 2003.
Not forgetting about the dream of every Catandunganon, the journey of the institution towards its conversion into a University was started, this time in the halls of the academe itself, under the visionary administration of CSC President Dr. Rodolfo V. Azanza (1986-1990) when the saga of the institution’s internationalization initiatives and faculty scholarships abroad were dynamically initiated. The culture of research and publication was likewise established along with the strengthening of the graduate school during Dr. Rodolfo V. Azanza’s term. These initiatives were followed through by President Adolfo S. Bagadiong. The succeeding administrations of Dr. Asuncion V. Asetre and Minerva I. Morales, both scholars under the term of Dr. Rodolfo V. Azanza, would continue that pursuit for university-hood as they shared the same vision for the institution, thus, encouraging local leaders to initiate parallel legislative support.
Thereby, in support of legislative fiat to the institution, then Catanduanes Congressman Leandro B. Verceles Jr. initiated his complementary effort in the conversion of the Colleges into a University during his first term in the 9th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines serving as the lone representative of Catanduanes from 1992 until 1995. The same fervor was passed on to the next Congressman of the Lone District of Catanduanes, Joseph A. Santiago whose term started in 2001, and who like his predecessors also worked hard for the conversion of CSC into a University. In short, all previous academic leaders and political stalwarts of the island, painstakingly laid the groundwork for the transformation of CSC into a University.
It was only on March 29, 2011, however, that finally the dream of every Catandunganon to have a University within the island would come to fruition when during the First Regular Session of the 15th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, then Catanduanes Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento with strong support from then Congressman Juan Edgardo M. Angara as co-author, filed House Bill No. 4170, entitled: “An Act Converting the Catanduanes State Colleges in the Province of Catanduanes Into A State University to be known as the Catanduanes State University, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.” Over a year thereafter, President Benigno Simeon S. Aquino III signed on October 19, 2012 Republic Act No. 10229 converting Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC)-Virac/Main Campus and Panganiban Campus into Catanduanes State University.
The institution today, as it embarks into its new horizon of change under its newly-installed SUC President-III, Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza, rises to the challenge of an inclusive development paradigm amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and climate issues. Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza opened the University to the public and encouraged its faculty, staff and students to get involved in the communities and serve the people. He ushered CatSU to operate under an atmosphere of servant-leadership, with competent and integrity-driven institutional culture towards the goal of transforming it into a globally-competitive green research university supported by PEZA-certified agro-industrial economic and processing zone in Panganiban Campus, and the Knowledge Innovation Science and Technology Park in Virac Campus under a BOR-approved comprehensive land use development and infrastructure plan coupled with a complementary blue print of CHED-approved smart campuses. Corollary to this, the institution’s BOR on January 31, 2022 likewise gave its nod to eleven new curricular programs to be applied with the CHED, which include: Juris Doctor, Doctor of Medicine, MA in Nursing, BS in Public Health, BS Radiologic Technology, BS Medical Technology, BS Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture, BS Marine Transportation, BS Fisheries (Major in Ocean Science) and BS Textile Engineering.
The following served as Presidents of the institution: Mr. Pedro G. Tabuzo (1971- 1972), Dr. Jacinto A. Medallada (1972- 1986), Dr. Rodolfo V. Azanza (1986- 1990), Dr. Adolfo S. Bagadiong (1993-2003), and Dr. Asuncion V. Asetre (2003-2011). Dr. Minerva I. Morales was elected as the sixth President of the Catanduanes State Colleges (2012-2013) and became University President on March 25, 2013 when the institution was converted into a University in consonance with the provision of RA 10229. Dr. Morales served her term until July 31, 2020.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ernestina P. Averilla was designated by DECS Higher Education Division as Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the institution from 1990- 1992. On the other hand, Dr. Freddie T. Bernal was designated OIC of the University from August 1, 2020 until June 24, 2021.
Thereafter on June 24, 2021, the Board of Regents of the Catanduanes State University in its Special Meeting presided by CHED Commissioner and CatSU BOR Chairperson, Hon. Aldrin A. Darilag, unanimously elected DR. PATRICK ALAIN T. AZANZA as President of the Catanduanes State University. Dr. Azanza is presently the 7th President of the institution since its foundation as a Public Higher Education Institution in Catanduanes.
During his First 100 Days in office as 7th president of the University, Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza shared, “I have come to the University as a public servant more than anything else. My service agenda revolves around the Vision of HOPE. Honest service; Outstanding and globally-competitive academic standards; People-centered and planet-friendly policies; and Equal opportunity for all. The hallmarks of my administration shall be Transparency, Integrity and Accountability. I shall adopt an open-door policy and work for inclusivity rather than exclusion. There will be shared governance in the University where students, faculty and staff shall not only be heard but will be given an important role in co-managing the University and in determining its future.”
The personality of the man who is supposedly at the helm of the institution but one who opts to work with people below can be best described by quoting what he declared during his inauguration. “CatSU’s being a University is not realized upon the mere passage of RA 10229 which authorized the conversion of CSC into CatSU, for it will be a mere piece of paper unless the academic community is able to transform the institution into what every Catandunganon has aspired it to be. University-hood is far greater than the singular act of Congress. We need to serve CatSU’s primary purpose of providing globally-competitive education to our youths and producing useful research outputs that will help address the perennial problems of our communities as well as provide relief and solutions to the burdens of the people.”
Dr. Azanza further exhorted that, “Using our God-given talents and expertise, we have to work together to establish the cornerstone of academic excellence and redefine our systems and standards through unconventional curricular offerings that engender innovative thinking and bring forth cutting-edge technologies and social systems that shall prepare our future generations to embrace and hurdle challenging and unknown realities that shall confront them during their time on earth or the universe. For they shall face problems that everyone of us here has yet to witness or could ever imagine. Therefore, our main task is to provide our young generation analytical skills and critical thinking abilities instead of merely teaching them steps and procedures that are bound to change and be repudiated by the fast-changing environment and exponential permutations of innovations, technologies and scientific breakthroughs.”
At the same time, Dr. Azanza emphasized, “We need to harness and let the young generation understand better their human potentials by allowing them to appreciate the importance of humanities and the arts. And in their pursuit of genuine happiness and more meaningful life, they need to be able to embrace the importance of inter-relationships within the ecosystem. They need to appreciate that people can survive better in life by giving importance to the value of communion and kindness to one another; that there is a need to share resources and opportunities in a worldview of abundance rather than competitiveness; and therefore not simply being focused on self-interests that compel humans to hoard and exclude others thereby building walls instead of bridges that push some of us to a world of loneliness, isolation and ultimately to depression and self-destruction. We need to realize that we achieve fully our potentials as human beings when we start living in the service of others because by then we achieve our sense of purpose. The CatSU Foundation, CatSU Provident Fund, the SEGURADO KA SA CATSU, as well as the CatSU Endowment Fund, the CatSU KIST and economic zones, the new curricular offerings, and many other initiatives under our present administration are all intended for that purpose. We in the academe must realize that we were created to serve others. For me, that is our smart mandate as academics.”
As of 2021, the institution’s members of the Board of Regents (BOR) are the following:
Hon. Aldrin A. Darilag (Chairperson- CHED)
Hon. Patrick Alain T. Azanza (Vice-Chairperson/CatSU President)
Hon. Santiago T. Gabionza Jr. (Member/ Rep. Sen. Joel Villanueva-Senate Committee on Education)
Hon. Hector S. Sanchez (Member/Rep. Cong. Mark Go-House Committee on Higher Tech Education)
Hon. Agnes Espinas-Tolentino (Member/ Regional Director, NEDA RO-V)
Hon. Rommel R. Serrano (Member/ Regional Director, DOST RO-V)
Hon. Rosanna S. Abundo (Member/ President, Federated Faculty Association Inc.)
Hon. Ramil Joselito B. Tamayo (Member/ President, Federated Alumni Association)
Hon. Renz Mickenly T. Tanael (Member /Student Regent)
Hon. Aida A. Dianela (Member/ Private Sector Representative)
Hon. Luzviminda T. Oropesa (Member/ Private Sector Representative)
Atty. Nikko Rey Aicetel Manlangit- Santelices is the Board’s acting secretary.