By Herman M. Lagon
THE ONLY fisheries university in the country today commemorates its first year since transitioning from a college to a university; it marks a momentous chapter in an already rich history. This transition symbolizes not just a change in status but the dawning of a new era in educational excellence and community engagement, aligning with the dynamic demands of the Blue Economy. As a faculty member and a director, having joined post-retirement from my principalship in Ateneo de Iloilo, I have witnessed firsthand the transformational journey of the Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST), brimming with promise and potential.
The institution’s story, stretching back 66 years, is one of resilience and adaptation. From its inception as the Central Iloilo National School of Fisheries (CINSOF) in 1957, the institution has evolved, mirroring the changing tides of educational needs and societal expectations. The transition to a university on January 10, 2023, was not merely a formal change; it represented a profound shift in its educational approach, focusing on research and serving the deserving youth of Iloilo.
The university’s guiding principles–Integrity, Social Justice, Discipline, and Academic Excellence (ISDA)–are the bedrock upon which its educational philosophy is built. These principles are not mere words but a living ethos that permeates every aspect of university life. Integrity here is not only about honesty but about a wholehearted commitment to professionalism and public service. Social justice extends beyond the university’s walls, aiming to bridge the gap between poverty and progress in Ilonggo families. Discipline is reimagined not as a means of enforcement but as a culture of academic rigor and personal responsibility. Academic excellence is coupled with virtues, aiming to empower individuals and communities for nation-building.
As part of ISUFST’s inaugural University Week, we are set to celebrate not just a year of achievements but also our commitment to the Blue Economy. This celebration is more than an event; it is a statement of our identity as bridge builders, connecting academic rigor with practical applications, and as wave breakers, challenging the status quo to pave new paths in sustainable ocean development.
The week’s highlights include the awarding of the Great Men and Women of ISUFST, a recognition of the exceptional contributions of our alumni at local, regional, national, and international levels. This event exemplifies our commitment to inclusivity and community engagement, underscoring the importance of alumni involvement in our continuing journey.
The University Week will also unfold across all campuses, featuring a range of activities from academic contests to sports events, showcasing the diverse talents of our students. This week-long celebration is a testament to the holistic approach of ISUFST, emphasizing not only academic excellence but also cultural, artistic, and athletic prowess.
As we progress, ISUFST is dedicated to producing globally competitive and empowered graduates in fields critical to national development. Our mandate encompasses a broad spectrum, from fisheries and marine sciences to education, engineering, agriculture, science, and technology, reflecting our commitment to multidisciplinary education, research, extension, and internationalization.
The historical journey of ISUFST, from its origins as a college to its present status as a university, is a narrative of growth and transformation. It is a story of expanding horizons, from introducing collegiate courses in the 1960s to becoming the country’s first and only state college of fisheries. This evolution continued with significant expansions in academic offerings and integration with other institutions, culminating in achieving university status.
As we celebrate our first University Week, we—the more than 8,000 students, 400 administrators, faculty, and staff, and thousands of alumni and community stakeholders from the five campuses/sites–are not just commemorating a milestone; we are embracing a new chapter in our story. This week represents our aspiration to be a leading research university in Southeast Asia and our commitment to marine conservation, sustainable ocean industries, social justice, and community resilience.
Under the transformative leadership of Dr. Nordy D. Siason, Jr., ISUFST stands as a beacon of academic excellence. This model institution has successfully navigated the challenges of compliance, accreditation, and innovation. As we step into this new era, we reaffirm our commitment to bridging academic rigor with practical applications, shaping a future where sustainable blue economy development is not just a goal but a reality. As we sail forward, ISUFST stands ready to face new challenges, break new waves, and build new bridges toward a sustainable and prosperous future.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.
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