CatSU and the fear of the unknown

Days before the public presentation of the three candidates for the presidency of the Catanduanes State University, some key officials expressed apprehension about the possibility of someone other than the local bet being anointed as its seventh president.

They were uneasy about Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza, who is relatively unknown to them, having spent most of his professional career in Metro Manila.

To some who were old enough to have seen or experiences the tumultuous last days of then President Rodolfo V. Azanza when he was at the helm of the state college from 1986 to 1990, the surname sent premonitions of the son inheriting the bad genes of the father.

They said it would be better to stick with the one they knew, someone they were familiar with, their good traits and frailties.

One even expects the new president to be strict, having jumped right from the private sector.

They had that strongest kind of fear, fear of the unknown, even if that fear extends the university’s suffering from stasis.

For decades now, aside from producing board topnotchers attributed to its excellent engineering, nursing and education curriculum, the university has not gave birth to research and programs directly affecting the livelihood of ordinary Catandunganons.

For one, there are not enough crabs in Panganiban, the crab capital of the island, despite the presence of the CSU’s campus that is supposed to cater to agriculture and fisheries, and the country’s biggest producer of abaca fiber continues to be plagued by abaca diseases.

As Dr. Azanza clearly stated in his message to the CatSU officialdom last Monday afternoon, the university will be implementing reforms and taking a path into the unknown, in order to explore the possibilities presented by usable and relevant research, new courses in maritime studies and climate change adaptation, and partnerships with institutions outside the island.

Surely, even when one is carrying a flashlight, fear still courses in one’s veins when stepping out in the darkness.

But as the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger points out, life will not be worth living if we let things terrify us.

As a human resource practitioner who mastered in sociology at the University of the Philippines, Dr. Azanza is well qualified to cobble together a team from the groups that people CatSU that would join him in pushing the institution’s boundaries and effect change not only within but outside it, among the lives of ordinary Catandunganons.

The eight (8) votes that he got in the Board of Regents meeting on June 24, 2021 reflect not only their assessment of Azanza’s sterling qualifications but also their confidence that he would be able to carry out his mission and achieve his admittedly lofty goals.

As an insider shared shortly after the vote, it would not have been worthy of their status as regent if they voted merely on the basis of political pressure or the camaraderie among close friends. It was a vote of conscience, they said.

Therefore, let not the two dissenting votes, and the unsubstantiated claims of alleged bribery and threats foisted on some regents, soil the integrity of the votes rendered by the honorable members of the Board.

There was simply no chance that the Board could disregard the scores (in the high nineties) the Search Committee for the Presidency that it gave Azanza, and the relatively low scores (in the eighties) that it felt the other two candidates deserved.

Had they done so, the regents would have been not only blind but irresponsibly untrue to their sworn duty.

The regents did their job; it is now Dr. Azanza’s turn to do his: transform the Catanduanes State University into something new, an institution that produces not only graduates but skilled and learned people capable of changing their communities.

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