UST opens campus in Mindanao

April 11, 2024 - 3:57 PM
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The UST General Santos Main Building. (THE Varsitarian/Valere Jane Callorena)

(Updated April 12, 2024; 10:20 a.m.) Bishop Cerilo Alan Casicas of Marbel and Dominican Prior Provincial Fr. Filemon dela Cruz Jr on Thursday solemnly inaugurated the first major expansion of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) outside Manila, at an 82-hectare campus in the bustling Soccsksargen region of Mindanao.

The new campus represents the Catholic university’s bid to make General Santos City an educational center in the region, said UST Rector Richard Ang, O.P.

Acknowledging UST’s “newcomer” status in Mindanao, Ang told a gathering of alumni on the eve of the inauguration that “UST is not a threat, but a treat,” and vowed to collaborate with other higher education institutions in the city.

UST General Santos will open in Academic Year 2024-2025 as a branch campus, with a projected initial enrollment of 500 students in the health sciences, business and accountancy, and engineering and information technology.

The seven-story UST GenSan Main Building, which can accommodate 5,000 students, is patterned after the nearly century-old UST Main Building in the Manila campus known for its cross tower, with arches inspired by Mindanao architecture. It has 24 classrooms, 23 laboratories, a chapel, library, clinic, auditorium, cafeteria, organization rooms, and function halls.

“The cross is the greater glory,” Casicas reminded UST officials in his homily during the Mass for the inauguration, noting that in both Manila and General Santos, the illuminated cross remains visible from afar even at night.

“Eternal light is no less than the divine light, the light of God. Eternal life beats in this big building. Otherwise, it is empty,” the bishop said.

Bishop Cerilo Alan Casicas of Marbel leads the blessing and inauguration of the UST General Santos (GenSan) campus on April 11, 2024. (CBCP News)

The UST GenSan Main Building chapel was blessed on April 9, with the first Mass offered by UST Secretary General Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P. and facilities chief Fr. Dexter Austria, O.P.

The campus in Barangay Ligaya, which broke ground in 2018 after getting a hard-fought zoning clearance from city officials, was entrusted to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Professor Emeritus Maribel Nonato, assistant to the rector for the Gensan campus

The Order of Preachers, which runs UST, earlier opened a filial house that will house the Dominican community on campus.

UST officials and alumni held an outreach program at the Muslim community of Barangay Batomelong to mark the end of the month-long Ramadan fast on Wednesday.

On April 25, UST will break ground on another building in the General Santos campus, the Dr. Ricardo S. Po, Sr. Integrated Innovation and Research Laboratories, named after the late Century Pacific Food Inc. founder and UST alumnus.

Founded in 1611 by the third bishop of Manila, Miguel de Benavides, O.P., UST enjoys Pontifical status and was declared the Catholic University of the Philippines by Pope Pius XII in 1947.

Felipe Salvosa II heads the journalism program of UST Manila.