Notre Dame University is a pioneer Catholic Oblates of Mary Immaculate educational institution in Central Mindanao. It was founded in 1948, and was then called Notre Dame College. It was the first college in Cotabato City and the entire province of Cotabato. Although primarily established as a teacher training institution, it offered courses in Liberal Arts, Commerce, and Elementary Education, with Fr. Robert F. Sullivan, OMI as the first Dean.
Notre Dame College was elevated to University status on March 11, 1969. It came to be the capstone and the crowning glory of the educational leadership of the Oblate Fathers in Southern Philippines. As it marked its twenty first year as an educational institution, NDU was formally inaugurated on September 9, 1969. It was highlighted by the investiture of the Very Rev. Joseph Milford, OMI as the first University President and the installation of the Very Rev. Philip F. Smith, OMI as the first University Rector. In his inaugural address, Fr. Milford said, “We are a Catholic University; this is not a distinction of limitation but a directional beam for truth which is the constant quest of all universities.” (NDU Faculty Manual, 2007 Edition)
The Graduate School was begun with the opening of the Academic Year 1962-1963 with this objective: to promote the deepening and discovery of knowledge within the framework of a Christian philosophy of life. Specifically, Graduate Education was to assist the student attain advanced knowledge through the systematic development of his thought by doing scientific procedures of research. Guided by correct principles and equipped with the techniques of research, the graduate student should bring to his own professional area of competence, an ability to isolate problems in his field, and to seek their solution by an orderly scientific process. These are the basic tools with which the graduate student endeavors to add his contribution to the welfare of his fellow man in his home province and in the nation as a whole. (GS Prospectus, 1963-1964)
The Chairman of the Graduate Council was Rev. Robert E. Sullivan OMI as Dean, with Council Members: Rev. John Vengrin, OMI, Dr. Federico C. Aquino, and Ramona P. Fenix.
The Graduate School offered courses leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Education Majors in Educational Administration, and Guidance and Counseling in 1962; and was granted Government Recognition in 1965. It was in 1967, that the first graduates in the degree Master of Arts were conferred on: Samuel F. Cabiles, Aurora R. Carag, Ceferino D. Costales, Genoveva D. Jaranilla, Fe Angeles M. Lopez, Fe Clara C. Suarez and Virginia M. Valdez. Dr. Federico Aquino was the Dean. (NDU Commencement Program, 1967)
For being recognized as a leading institution in education in the region, the university was conferred on May 13, 1976, the degree Master of Arts in Educational Administration to 25 school administrators from different schools in Mindanao. This was under the Mindanao Institute for the Development of School Administrators (MIDSA) program. (NDU Commencement Exercises Program, 1976)
Rev. Fr. Orlando Quevedo, OMI was installed as the second first University president on January 30, 1971. He served being the first Filipino president. He stood by the principle that human resource development program should be done within the community. He believed that the role NDU must play is “to grapple with the problems of a developing region through its teaching, its research and its serious function and that failure to do so could be tragic betrayal of academic thrust.”
In 1976, Fr. Jose Roberto Arong, OMI was installed as third President of the University and the second Filipino to occupy such position. He inherited the task of reconstruction and rehabilitation after the devastations of the earthquake which hit Cotabato City in the same year.
Parallel with the physical improvement was an upgrading of the University’s academic offerings. In 1976, the Graduate School offered an Master in Public Administration and graduated its first graduate Datar Bado in 1981. This was followed in 1980 by an offering of an Master in Business Administration with its first graduate Kamid Omar conferred the degree in 1984.
In 1980, the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) certified the Level I accreditation of the three colleges of the University, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Commerce and the Teachers’ College.
On June 12, 1982, Fr. Jose D. Ante, OMI succeeded Fr. Jose Roberto Arong, OMI as the 4th University President. He continued the upgrading of the University’s academic programs especially in Graduate Education. In 1983, a program towards Doctor of Education Major in Educational Management was introduced. In 1987, it graduated its first Doctor of Education in the person of Priscillano Bauzon. The succeeding years saw the university conferred degrees to more school administrators and practitioners in the region and neighboring communities.
In April 1984, four Colleges earned PAASCU reaccredidation. These were the College of Arts and Sciences, Teachers’ College, College of Commerce, which were reaccredited for Level II and the College of Engineering, which was given accreditation for Level I. Such accreditation simply meant that the University has educational programs that had met the standards of quality and excellence.
On December 8, 1988, the USAID-financed De Mazenod Library was blessed and dedicated. Ambassador Nicholas Platt, the US Ambassador to the Philippines graced the occasion that was attended by prominent city, provincial, and military officials. Two days later on December 10, 1988, the NDU Peace Center was inaugurated which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1992, Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr., OMI became the 5th President succeeding Fr. Jose Ante, OMI. His assumption came at a time when NDU needed a dynamic and innovative leader who would initiate much needed reforms at the University. With his knack at finding resources and funding agencies, NDU gradually regained its financial stability. More than that, under his leadership, the University was projected in the limelight of academic excellence, peace advocacy, and development.
In 1997, the Nepomuceno Building was built to house the Graduate School and College of Law. Since then, the Graduate School Dean’s office has been located on the ground floor, with the graduate classes conducted on the second floor. A Satellite Library cum Reading Room for Gradaute Students is also housed on the second floor.
The university has been an advocate of peace education and development. This made NDU carry the flagship of being a Peace University. Dr. Toh Swee Hin, in 1986 had introduced the seven pillars of PEACE framework; trained teachers who became PEACE facilitators and lecturers on the tenets of Peace Education. Subsequently, Peace Education has been in the university curriculum in the tertiary level as a required cognate. The offering of Peace Education as a degree program has been in the menu of programs from the undergraduate, graduate and post graduate levels.
In school year 1997-98, the University, in collaboration with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) under the Mindanao Advanced Education Project (MAEP), offered Master of Arts (M.A.) in Peace and Development and Doctor of Philosophy in Peace and Development (PhDPD) in the Graduate School. There were 38 MAEP scholars from all over Mindanao who enrolled and graduated the peace program degrees in the following years. The Dean was Dr. Teodoro M. Carrasco.
During the school years 1995 until 2003; several HEIs entered into a consortium program with NDU for the offering of MAEd, MPA, MBA and EdD with NDKC, NDMC, NDTC and NDJC. The consortia had opened avenues for professionals to be developed through graduate programs sought, especially for those who did not have access to graduate schools in the region. The consortia programs, however, were ended in 2005 following CHED PSGs on conduct of extension classes.
There were also international linkages by the Graduate School during the years 2000- 2003 under the deanship of Dr. Erlinda P. Zurita, with the following: Curtin University of Australia, UNESCO South Korea, and UNESCO Indonesia.
In June 2002, Fr. Ramon Ma. G. Bernabe, OMI succeeded Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr. OMI as the 6th President of the University. He was the first alumnus and the youngest so far to have been appointed to hold the highest post in NDU. In his Inaugural Speech on July 2, 2003, he committed to pursue the “thrust towards peace and development through education, research, and advocacy, anchored on the tenets of solidarity and dialogue”. (NDU Faculty manual, 2007 Edition)
Through the Graduate School, NDU along with USM, ADDU and USEP, participated in the Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) of the Department of Education that designed a special course for classroom teachers to attain mastery in a specific area of study like English, Filipino, Mathematics and Educational Administration. There were 170 teachers from the Cotabato province who enrolled in the Master in teaching degree programs and graduated them in 2003.
Having been recognized as a prestigious University in Central Mindanao, the World Bank identified Notre Dame University as one of its ten Knowledge for Development Centers (KDC) in the country. The WB-KDC opened at the University Library in October 2002 to provide technology-based information resource and wide-range of development literatures for research to a broad-based clientele, both private and public, for the Central Mindanao Region. The Library resources have been a big help boosting research activities among Graduate School students and faculty.
It was in 2004 that NDU became a partner of the Notre Dame Educational Association (NDEA) in the conduct of the Summer Institute for development trainings of elementary and high school principals and teachers in the NDEA system. The SI included trainings in Mathematics, English, and Science Education for teachers; and Effective School Leadership for Principals. The Summer Institute has now become a regular program of the Graduate School with Dean Nida P. Rodriguez being concurrent NDEA Graduate Commissioner, facilitating the program.
In 2005, Fr. Eduardo G. Tanudtanud, OMI, was installed as the 7th University President. He has set foot at the threshold of University leadership feeling “the sacredness, the dignity and the challenges of the ministry of leadership and stewardship”. During his installation, he noted “the challenge to continue to raise the bar of University performance in delivering quality programs that are relevant, important, responsive, innovative, entrepreneurial and beneficial to the needs of our stakeholders in the region”.
In February 2005, the University community revisited its University Vision Mission to review its mandate of education service. Through its Visioneering Program, which involved all University stakeholders, a whole year round process of revisiting and rearticulating its University Vision-Mission-Goals was conducted. The Graduate School also revisited its Goals and Objectives and followed a five year development plan with emphasis on strengthening research capabilities and research publication among faculty and students; community reach out, and linkages.
On April 25, 2005, the University through the Graduate School inked a Memorandum of Agreement with DepEd Cotabato Division Office for the implementation of its project called Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project through In Service Training (INSET) as funded by USAID. Two trainings on Classroom Management and Care and Use of Learning Materials were given to 1,789 secondary school teachers and principals. The said trainings were simultaneously conducted in the following venues: Kidapawan City, President Roxas, Mlang and Pigkawayan. Participation to these two trainings was accredited six units for those who completed them and officially enrolled in the Graduate School.
Also, during the school year 2006 – 2007, the university through the Graduate School entered into a Consortium with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) under the project of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Germany, that Peace Course Program were offered to the participants in the Mindanao Peace Process. There were twenty five (25) enrolled in the program representing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF official repreentatives. The Peace Courses were conducted on weekends with Visiting professors from Manila and in the Region; leading them to earn a degree in MA in Peace and Development.
In 2006, the Graduate School was a delivering HEI to the CHED – Continuing Education Program (CEP) for the training of Mathematics teachers in the region. Invited were visiting professors, with PhD in Mathematics from USM Kabacan. This project graduated 22 tertiary school teachers in Region XII, in Master in Mathematics (MIM) with conferment by the NDMU, Koronadal City.
The Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN) was given the Government Recognition on January 23, 2013. The opening of the program helped in the compliance of the academic requirement for a graduate degree for the nursing or clinical instructors in HEIs and practicing nurses in hospitals.
The Graduate School also received eight (8) scholars for the MA in Peace and Development on the Third Trimester of the ST 2012-2013. With an MOU signed between the University and AUSAID, this program is called the In Country Scholarship Program (ICSP) with scholars from other HEIs in the country. NDU is one of the HEI recipients to develop students in the field of Peace and Development.
The years that followed saw the Graduate School relentless efforts to achieve its goals in the light of the following: Supervision of Research Outputs of Students, well developed, disseminated and published research outputs, faculty researches presented in the national and international conferences; linkages and collaboration with stakeholders and external partners as being involved in round table discussions re peace process and consultation on the Bangsamoro government; facilitates trainings on good governance and facilitators to K-12 discussions, seminars and trainings, and community reach out programs to adopted barangays such as the Barangay Poblacion 4 and LGU North Upi; linkages and membership with professional organizations like the Philippine Association for Graduate Education (PAGE) in the regional and national levels. The Dean Nida Rodriguez reactivated PAGE XII and PAGE ARMM, and sits in the National Board. International Linkages were with the following: Indonesia SEAMEO QITEP on training teachers in BAHASA and other Foreign language, AUSAID for the training of scholars in Peace and Development, and the Asian-Europe meeting (ASEM) based in Helsinki University in Finland – Education Hub for Peace and Conflict Studies for Philippines for their visiting professors and exchange, and IAG Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for Good Governance lectures and round table discussions.
In the spirit of the Oblate Charisma, the NDU Graduate School continues to be committed in providing quality and globally competitive graduate education within the core values of FIRES: Faith, Integrity, Respect, Excellence, and Service. The students claim, “NDU as a pioneering and one making the difference, with a plus – in Graduate Education”. And we all say, “NDU is for social transformation in Central Mindanao!”