N. Vizcaya’s 1st university turns 80
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The province’s first university is celebrating its 80th anniversary on December 8, with activities lined up featuring its intensified thrust of expanding its global linkages, balanced with programs tending to preserve its cultural roots.
This year’s event seeks to highlight the milestones that Saint Mary’s University, a Catholic church-run institution here, has achieved both on the domestic and global front, said Fr. Manuel Valencia, university president.
“Our theme for this year, ‘Crossing Boundaries at 80’, stresses how SMU continues to endeavor to reach out to partners in other parts of the globe, and focus on efforts to bring the best quality of education for our students and for our community,” he said.
SMU was founded in 1928 by Catholic Msgr. Constant Jurgens, who had intended to give the children of his parish, Bayombong the benefit of a Christian education. From a small grade school, it has grown to be one of the country’s biggest tertiary schools, and the province’s first university.
The university has gained distinction as having been declared by the Commission on Higher Education as a center of excellence for education, business and engineering courses, as well as other recognition from various institutions.
It is also the only tertiary school that offers a course leading to a degree in Bachelor Of Laws.
According to Valencia, SMU has taken the lead among universities in Cagayan Valley on embarking on programs with schools and organizations in other Southeast Asian countries like China and Hongkong, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Resource-sharing with these institutions would help provincial universities and colleges in the country like SMU to be competitive with other schools not only in the cities but also internationally, he added.
SMU’s partnerships with these institutions involve joint studies in the graduate and post-graduate levels, exchange programs for teachers and students, information sharing, and collaborative researches with the selected schools.
Among the foreign schools with which SMU has inked partnership agreements is the Cavalry School of Management and Design in Singapore; the Kabayan Center of the Philippines (KCP) Holdings in Hong Kong and the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, both in China; and the University of Basque Country in the province of Biskaia in Spain.
But despite the university’s efforts to go global, the thrust must also be balanced with serious efforts to revive and preserve the region’s cultural heritage, especially among its indigenous peoples (IP), Valencia said.
“It is sad to note that the IP’s knowledge, systems and practices are on their way to extinction; elders are vanishing one by one; their young, in general, are not appreciative of their indigenous knowledge and traditions. It is high time therefore to rectify and reverse this trend,” he said.
Such a program came to the fore with the recent launching of the Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions (Ikat) institute, which is seen as an educational and research center specially created to focus on the concerns of the 16 tribal groups of northern Luzon.#