By Herman M. Lagon
AS THE Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST) marks its first year of university status, it stands not only as an educational institution but also as a testament to the power of principles. The university’s guiding mantra, ISDA (Integrity, Social Justice, Discipline, and Academic Excellence), echoes a commitment to creating not just scholars but well-rounded individuals dedicated to societal progress. These principles are not unique to ISUFST but are shared across renowned institutions, each adding its unique flavor but converging on a universal ethos of building character and knowledge.
Integrity is the cornerstone of ISUFST’s philosophy, reflecting a blend of honesty, professionalism, and accountability. This principle is mirrored in the values of universities like Harvard, where acting in the university’s best interest is paramount, and De La Salle University, which emphasizes faith and zeal for service. Integrity in these contexts goes beyond mere truthfulness; it is about embodying the qualities necessary for responsible citizenship and ethical leadership.
Social Justice at ISUFST is not only about recognizing but also actively bridging the socio-economic divides. This empathetic approach towards education resonates with the mission of Ateneo de Manila University, which seeks to form leaders who are not only competent but also compassionate towards the global community. Social Justice, therefore, becomes an educational mission to create a more equitable society, starting within the academic realms.
Discipline, in the ISUFST sense, transcends the traditional concept of order. It is about nurturing a culture of academic rigor and personal responsibility, akin to the values espoused by the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, which emphasizes leadership and scholarship. This principle focuses on self-regulation and responsible decision-making, aiming to create a community of learners committed to their personal and academic growth.
Academic Excellence at ISUFST is about combining knowledge with virtue, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals. This echoes the commitment of universities like the University of the Philippines and the National University of Singapore, which strive for excellence that is globally competitive yet locally relevant. Academic Excellence here is not an end in itself but a means to contribute meaningfully to nation-building.
ISUFST, as a budding university, looks up to these established institutions for guidance. Its journey from a humble fisheries school to a university reflects a relentless pursuit of growth and excellence. This evolution mirrors the growth of other institutions, such as the University of Iloilo-Phinma, which emphasizes commitment to truth and loyalty to duty; Iloilo Science and Technology University, which highlights innovation and technological advancement; University of San Agustin, which advocates the promotion of authentic human and societal development, Central Philippine University, that stresses the importance of holistic growth, John B. Lacson Maritime Foundation University, which emphasizes the improvement of the quality of life of its stakeholders, and West Visayas State University, valuing integrity and compassion.
The ISUFST’s story is one of resilience and ambition. Founded in 1957 as a national school of fisheries, it has consistently expanded its academic offerings and scope. Its transformation into a university this January 10, 2023 under Dr. Nordy D. Siason, Jr.’s leadership marks a new chapter in its commitment to providing quality education and contributing to national development.
As 66-year-old ISUFST celebrates its first University Week, it is not just an occasion of festivity but a reaffirmation of its guiding principles. The week-long celebration, themed “Building Bridges, Breaking Waves,” signifies ISUFST’s role in connecting academic rigor with practical applications in fisheries and marine sciences. It is a celebration of unity, purpose, and the endless possibilities of the Blue Economy.
ISUFST’s journey is not just its own but reflects a larger narrative in Philippine education. Organizations such as the CHEd, DepEd, Congress, and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) highlight the importance of high-quality, fair education attuned to societal needs. ISUFST, in embracing its guiding principles, contributes to this narrative, striving to become a leading research university in Southeast Asia by 2030. Thus, as the young ISUFST embarks on this journey, resting on the shoulders of university giants that come before her, it does so with the assurance that its ISDA guiding principles will lead it to a future where education is not just a privilege but a tool for societal transformation.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.