47 Faculty Members Awarded Plantilla Items in An Auspicious Start for New School Year - Prof. Catong

At the CTNI tree clonal nursery.
Prof. Esnain Catong

SCHOOL Year 2010-2011 is off to an auspicious, positive start with the recent appointment by the Board of Regents of 47 faculty members in the regular plantilla of the institution, with President Dr. Grace Rebollos making the announcement during the Faculty Union general meeting held last June 16.

Faculty Regent Prof. Esnain Catong in an interview with the University Bulletin revealed the appointments form the biggest single batch ever awarded in the history of the school. He said the appointments were made possible through a “scrap and build mechanism” he had spearheaded that in his capacity as Faculty Union president.

I visited the University of the Philippines and Mindanao State University and consulted with their authorities on how to implement the mechanism to skirt around the creation of new plantilla items, which he said is difficult to do.

In his welcome speech at the start of the union general meeting, Prof. Catong congratulated the faculty members for collectively making Western Mindanao State University one of the top performing educational institutions in the country, as it has recently been commended. This accomplishment is the result of our concerted efforts and critical collaboration, he told them, to include the work done by non-teaching personnel, students as well as their parents. This is the offshoot, too, of over a century’s struggle to make WMSU a center for academic excellence, he elaborated.

In the latest evaluation by the Professional Regulation Commission, WMSU’s College of Nursing was ranked 9th among the hundreds of schools offering nursing programs, Prof. Catong noted.

Dr. Rebollos rendered her President’s Report to the faculty during the general assembly.

In his same welcome remarks, Prof. Catong also congratulated the school’s scholars for completing their studies and welcomed them back to the campus. A strong faculty, he said, translates into furthering academic excellence.

As a third item in his speech, Prof. Catong disclosed the implementation of the third cycle of NBC 461 effective since last December, which have since benefited the faculty in terms of salaries and other privileges. Prof. Catong was a member of the committee that smoothed out the implementation of the third cycle. He is hoping that the fourth cycle will be ready by July, before his present term as Faculty Union president would end.

In relation to personnel benefits, Prof. Catong also revealed that he sponsored the eventual approval by the Board of the granting of 12.5 percent increase in the salary of WMSU personnel, forming the second tranche of a four-year schedule to raise their salaries by 50 percent. He had also pushed for the granting of the year-end incentives pay to eligible personnel last December, he added. All these, he said, have boosted the morale of our personnel.

After the general assembly, the academic council convened to approve a proposal to confer a Doctor of Humanities honoris causa to Education Undersecretary Ramon Bacani. Prof. Catong said Bacani highly deserves the honor since he is one of the most outstanding education officials in the nation today. Bacani has also served as a member of the WMSU Board of Regents during a previous administration, he pointed out.

Prof. Catong said the Board has ordered the gradual phaseout of corporate undergraduate programs, including of the elementary and secondary departments of the laboratory school and accountancy effective the new school year. Students who are enrolled in these programs may however continue their studies until they graduate, he said.

The corporate system of the College of Nursing, however, has been spared from a similar phasing out.

Prof. Catong observed that under RA 8292, State universities are prohibited from corporatizing academic programs. But, he said, he favors a system wherein academic programs may be made “self-liquidating”.

He also announced that the Board recently approved amendments in the curricula of the College of Agriculture, College of Education, College of Liberal Arts and College of Home Economics.

Prof. Catong first served as Student Regent in the Board in 1997-1998, partly for which he was named Most Outstanding Student in 1998. He graduated his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Laws from WMSU in 1995 and 1999, respectively.

Aside from serving as Faculty Regent since 2008, he is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Political Science of WMSU. In July, he is up for re-election as president of the Faculty Union. But, he told University Bulletin, he is weighing whether to seek re-election or to instead complete his final requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy in History, Cognate in Political at UP-Diliman, Quezon City, whose academics he has already completed.