CSU President Delivers SUnA 2020 with Aplomb

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Splendid in his champagne barong, CSU President Anthony M. Penaso delivered his 2020 State of the University Address (SUna) at a calculated distance from a controlled small crowd of key officials, select stakeholders and development partners at the Pavillion, Watergate Hotel on May 18, 2021. Everyone were donned in Filipiniana attire with matching face masks, face shields, and physically distanced. Also present were the CSU first lady madam Abigail Noemis T. Penaso and the Penaso children.

“Now, when we talk about achievements and challenges, it is inevitable to mention the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic. Our unprecedented fight against an enemy invisible to the naked eye has triggered colossal challenges for higher education across the globe. We set our footsteps into the unknown and dealt with sudden shifts and major turns that none of us could have anticipated.

But rather than being defeated by fear, uncertainties and confusion, CSU’s urgent and proactive responses were ushered by commitment, synergy, resiliency, and service excellence. We simply did not give up, nor did we give in. Across the years, our mission, vision, and core values which are ingrained in every strand of the University’s organizational fiber have enabled us to realize the milestones that we did not even imagine accomplishing before.” Dr. Penaso’s dynamic opening statement.

Dr. Penaso mentioned CSU’s mantra to formulate and strategize education interventions; the drastic shift to blended learning, massive retooling for remote teaching, strategizing for continuity of core admin services, convergence, and sustained culture of service excellence.

Even before the global health crisis, CSU has already set its vision clear in creating a blended learning environment with the predominance of technology. In partnership with the Commission of Higher Education, CSU have established the Virtual Learning Facility, which eventually evolved into Virtual Learning Research Center, that features cutting-edge innovation to bring digital content into the end-users using mobile devices. Learning materials are thus within the reach through our smartphones and gadgets. This has also paved the way to forge partnership with DOST to implement Starbook and DICT’s Tech4Ed.

“The power of automation has likewise gained incalculable importance amidst the onset of the major disruptions. The information systems we have developed spared us from the cumbersome manual steps in our critical operations of the University within the purview of application, registration, admission, enrollment, administration and finance. We also placed a significant focus in upskilling and retooling our teaching workforce which is valuable in embracing the shift to distance learning and adoption of the new work system.”

Named after the prophet of crisis and hope, CSU created the TASKFORCE JEREMIAH a crisis management task force to spearhead our COVID-19 response. This proactive initiative drew the attention of national and even international audiences of which we were able to share our good practices, strategies and lessons learned.

“The Center for Nanoscience and Technology for Research and Entrepreneurship and the Material Science and Polymer Chemistry Laboratory developed a nanocellulose-based filter material to be used as an insertion in the ordinary cloth mask to enhance its filtering capacity. We produced 3D printed face shields through the FabLab. CSUCC has initiated the production of face masks through the volunteers of its Garments Technology Program.

CSU provided food packs among stranded students and personnel residing from far-flung areas, CSU tricycle drivers and the security forces of the University. The Food Innovation Center (FIC) of the College of Agriculture and Agri-Industries massively produced functional foods for the medical frontliners.

The Caraga Center for Geo-Informatics (CCGeo) developed web maps for visualization of COVID19-related cases. On the other hand, CSUCC innovated a thermal scanner using infrared powered by micro-controller. Our very own chemists of the University were also actively involved in the production of disinfectants.

Through the Tanim sa Bahay Initiative, we distributed vegetable seedlings to households for peri-urban gardens. To ensure learning community, we also distributed learning materials to different barangays in Butuan City.

Notable importance was also given in the promotion of mental health. CSU offered and provided Mental Health and Psychological Support Services through tele- counseling for students, faculty members, administrative staff and their families, its surrounding communities and medical frontliners.

CSU achieved all the physical targets for F.Y. 2020 while upholding the ideals of transparency, accountability, and fiscal probity, constant efforts to efficiently and effectively utilize public funds catapulted to remarkable milestones in the parlance budget and finance.”

Ranked 3 in the entire SUCs with the highest capital outlay funding in 2020 was beyond imaginable, CSU welcomed 2021 as a record breaker as it landed to the top spot for the first time ever. Appropriation for support to operations had also been given to CSU.

The national government entrusted CSU to implement impactful research and extension programs resulting to a skyrocket increase of research allocation tallying more than 1000% increase. Along with the GAA funded research projects, CSU also received a total of 106.3 million pesos of research grants from DOST councils.

Strengthening its Micro, small and medium enterprises, CSU committed to implement research projects for MSMEs in partnership with DOST through the CRADDLE 2020. As R&D acts as a critical lever to ensure a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery coupled with CSU’s proven track record of research excellence, it received a total of 15.7 million pesos to fund for COVID-19 related research. A total of 113.6 Million pesos of other externally funded research are expected to bolster CSU’s research productivity geared towards producing science-driven solutions and innovations.

Focus for faculty mobility which is an important dimension towards curricular innovations, cultivation, and maintenance of international partnerships was achieved through webinars, online trainings, and scientific conferences. CSU was rated 3 stars according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Stars rating and received 5 stars in the teaching and social responsibility indicators.

CSU was recognized by AACCUP as one of the top performing SUCs; it is fourth spot in the highest number of Level II Accredited Programs in 2020. CSU successfully passed the first ever virtual institutional accreditation making the CSU Main Campus as one of the only two institutionally accredited SUCs in Mindanao. On the other hand, CSU Cabadbaran City became the first institutionally accredited satellite campus in the entire Visayas and Mindanao.

Aside of its institutional accreditations, program offerings were also conferred with accreditations and certifications by AACCUP and CHED. CSU got a Platinum Award for drafting and filing eight innovations patents and successfully commercializing the Integrated Campus Enrolment (ICE) System and FARM System.

Dr. Penaso said, that each recognition is an emblem of shared success, and behind all of these are inspiring stories of public servants that are worthy to be told. He thanked everyone for the CSU journey in these challenging times.

“Truly, all those who made these significant accomplishments possible are worthy to be called as Mga Bayani sa Makabagong Panahon for as the saying goes, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

As one big community, we dealt with terrible situations—doubt, confusion, anxiety, sickness and including loss of loved ones. And like any heroes who made it through the battle, we were wounded along the way and suffered losses, but we drew strength from each other in order to get up, move forward, and surpass these gargantuan challenges. Through our herculean efforts, we have made the IMPOSSIBLE turned into I’M POSSIBLE…” The message was audacious not to be shared. OPD/PICO

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