The search for the CatSU presidency

Nearly 10 months after former President Minerva I. Morales was “forced” to retire, the Catanduanes State University will likely have its second president before the end of the week.

Morales, who was given a second term by the Board of Regents despite the fact that she was turning 65 during the period, had been given the message that she could not get the unanimous nod for an extension beyond the age of retirement.

What she underwent fortunately can no longer happen to the three aspirants for the CatSU presidency.

The home-grown bet, Dr. Marilyn B. Panti, is just 50 years old while the other island native, Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza is two years older at 52.

On the other hand, the “import” from Guimaras, Dr. Agustin N. Arceña, is relatively young at 41.

All three could conceivably serve as president of other universities once their two terms are completed at CatSU, if appointed by the BoR.

Thus, it is safe to surmise that whoever wins the race would be granted a second term, assuming that they perform well and adhere to their stated vision, mission and goals.

Last week, the three aspirants were presented to the public and CatSU stakeholders before a select audience and online.

They laid out their plans for the island’s premier institution of higher learning and subjected themselves to questioning from sectoral representatives and stakeholders, including some regents or their representatives.

While Dr. Panti presented herself as a candidate for continuity building on the gains of the past, Dr. Azanza proposed intriguing possibilities in CatSU’s curriculum, particularly on new courses focusing on disaster preparedness, maritime and marine engineering studies as well as locally-usable academic research.

On the other hand, Dr. Arceña’s presentation was the longest and most comprehensive, consisting of 68 slides and delving even on the problems of internet connectivity, unreliable power and inadequate budget.

How the candidates performed during a separate online interview with the BoR cannot be determined at this time.

As the chairman of the Search Committee for the Presidency (SCP) underscored during the presentation, the committee’s job is only to vet the candidates and submit its recommendation to the Board.

Their showing before the public and the Board may even prove to be useless, assuming that the BoR is peopled by regents who are under the influence of local and national politicians.

But such an assumption is simplistic and unfair to the Board, whose members are generally accomplished individuals in their own fields of expertise. Except perhaps for a few who owe their being elected to the board to whoever helped them win the presidency of their sectors.

To those who have already counted votes and to those who in their hearts believe that the regents will make the right decision, rest easy.

Let us allow these distinguished gentlemen and ladies to pick the best fruit from the tree.

After all, the 11 board members will have known by now who among the three candidates is the most qualified to lead the Catanduanes State University through this uncertain time in the field of higher education and into the next four years.

By June 19, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of this great institution, the people will know who is the lucky one, and, perhaps after a year, realize if they have been handed a gift of a performer or a burden of incompetence.

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