The Caraga State University, formerly known as the Northern Mindanao State Institute of Science and Technology (NORMISIST), was first conceived in 1918 as the Agusan Agriculture High School. On February 14, 1920, Proclamation Number 4 was passed by the American Governor to the Philippines Francis Burton Harrison, declaring the reservation of a 232-hectare virgin forest land in Barrio Ampayon, in the Municipality of Butuan, province of Agusan del Norte as the grounds of the young school.
The first framework of the school building was laid down in 1937 in the above-mentioned site. However the development of the school was deferred as the government deviated to giving priority to serve the Manobo cultural minority through the creation of the Bunawan Agricultural High School in Agusan del Sur. It was at the close of World War II in 1946 that the Agusan Agricultural High School was established in the reserved area. The funding for the establishment of the school came from the Rehabilitation Act of 1946, the FAO-PHILCUSA, and the Pres. Carlos P. Garcia contingency fund.
After 17 years, in June 22, 1963, Republic Act 3604 was passed converting the school into the Northern Mindanao Agricultural College (NORMINAC). NORMINAC was among the 13 pilot experimental agricultural high school chosen by the Department of Education and Culture (DEC) for World Bank Assistance through the Central Bank Development of Education Agricultural Loan Fund (CB-DEC-ALF) which was the umbrella of the Educational Project Implementing Task Force (EDPITAF) in 1974-1975. Moreover, NORMINAC became the training center for the National Manpower and Youth Council (NMYC).
In collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, the school was instrumental in the discovery of the zinc deficiency problem of the Agusan Land. The technological breakthrough solved the puzzle of poor rice harvests in many rice fields in Agusan and the surrounding areas.
In 1977-1978, the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education opened with 34 enrollees. However, it was phased out to meet World Bank requirement of offering only agricultural technology courses to develop skills for countryside development.
As Caraga Region rapidly grew and developed in both agricultural and industrial sectors, so did the necessity for greater capability building in matters of technical aptitude to run and manage indispensable machineries. In lieu of this, House Bill No. 25 was passed converting NORMINAC to the Northern Mindanao State Institute of Science and Technology (NORMISIST). The House Bill became Batas Pambansa Blg. 241 when President Ferdinand Marcos signed it into law on November 11,1982.
It was around this time that logging facilitated the economic expansion of Butuan. The wider range of curricular offerings was dynamically responsive to the growing need of the region for an educationally prepared and academically capable human resource that is equipped with higher technical skills for agricultural and industrial development. The conversion of NORMINAC into NORMISIST also provided opportunity and access to a good quality of higher education in science and technology to the youth in the region who had been deprived of such a right for many years.
NORMISIST has steadily grown as an institution in delivering education to the constituents of Butuan and the neighboring areas. In 1994, the presidents of the faculty association, the administrative personnel association, and the central student government gained the privilege of observation in the meetings of Board of Trustees (BOT). The above-mentioned organization presidents were not afforded voting rights. However, the observation privilege given at the meeting was an essential means for the Institute stakeholders to learn the rudiments of policy and decision-making and was an initial step in the integration of the NORMISIST personnel into the mainstream of BOT powers.
In the same years, the institution exemplified academic growth by starting to offer graduate studies namely MA in Education with majors in Education and supervision, General Education, Curriculum and Instructional Technology and Adult and External Education as sanctioned by Ref. Res. No. 12, s. 1994 of the Board of Trustees. The above-mentioned accomplishment led to the offering of other graduate programs that are responsive to the need of equipping the human resource of the region.
In 1997, concerned by the of squatters occupying a parcel of the institute-owned land, the Institution conducted an information drive to advise the squatters of the need to vacate the place. Through legal process, the land of concern was regained to the benefit of the NORMISIST.
As part of its commitment to serve a larger academic areas of responsibility, and with the integration of a CHED supervised school, NORMISIST has evolved into a system with one satellite campus, the NORMISIST-Cabadbaran Campus established in an 8-hectare area at the heart of the municipality of Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte.
Through the course of its growth, the Institute has been served by six presidents who have exemplified deep commitment for academic development and progress, thereby completing meaningful contributions that have cemented the Institute's path towards greater improvement.
The first president of the Institute was the late Engr. Alberto Villares who was responsible for the implementation of the ADB funded ATEP-EDPITAF Project package offering the technology-oriented DAT-BAT program, its infrastructure, curriculum, and human resource development support system. He led the establishment of the College of Science and Mathematics Teacher Education. He also labored for the creation of strong linkage with various line agencies, NGOs, and research consortia.
Dr. Antonio Tomaneng, a PhD in Soil Science and a trained Agricultural Engineer, was elected as president in 1993. He was the first to promote the tri-function of a State College which are instruction, research and extension. Dr. Tomaneng initiated engineering programs specifically the Associate in Material Science Engineering and the BS Geodetic Engineering.
In 1997-2000, NORMISIST was managed by Dr. Glory S. Magdale and Dr. Joanna B.Cuenca, CHED Directors acting as Officers In-Charge. It was in this period that the School of Engineering was established.
Dr. Wenceslao Tianero, a PhD in Agricultural Education and a former Vice President for Academic Affairs in Central Mindanao University, took over the presidency in 2000. Establishment of agricultural projects such as Carabao Center, Dairy Processing Center and Tissue Culture Project were few of his notable achievements.
Dr. Edgar W. Ignacio, a PhD in Chemistry and former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) also served as the 4th Institute President, with much effort put into the development of the Institute - faculty development program and the establishment of the Science and Technology Complex. The Institute was strengthened to address the mandate of Science and Technology delivery in the Region. These were manifested in the enhancement of S&T Laboratories, hiring new faculty members to backstop S&T program offerings, establishment of the ICT Center and the construction of additional laboratories and classrooms.
From 2008 to present, Dr. Joanna B. Cuenca, CEO III, a former Director of the Commission on Higher Education of the Caraga Region heads the administration.With only two years in the Institute, she has led the accreditation of several programs in AACCUP, obtained COD status for Math Program, and expanded the scholarship programs for students. In addition, she has established the HITACHI-donated Robotics Laboratory, helped construct several student centers and began the construction of the Institute's hostel. It is also during her time that NORMISIST Funding for Research and Extension was increased.
Dr. Cuenca labored for the establishment of the Caraga State University. She worked with the Members of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Administration Officials of the Institute and Congressmen of this City to establish a state university in the Region. Congressman Jose "Joboy" S. Aquino of the First District of Agusan del Norte filed House Bill Number 5110 at the House of Representatives with Senator Mar A. Roxas as the principal sponsor in the Senate. HBN 5110 was approved in the Senate's 3rd and final reading last November 16, 2009. On December 16, 2009, HBN 5110 was signed and approved into law by Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo through Republic Act 9854.
President Arroyo was in NORMISIST for the ceremonial signing of Republic Act 9854 last January 5, 2010. RA9854 established the Caraga State University in the Region by integrating the Northern Mindanao State Institute of Science and Technology (NORMISIST) of this city and the Northern Mindanao College of Science and Technology (NMCAST) in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte with its main campus in Butuan City.
Dr. Cuenca serves as the first President of the newly established Caraga State University.