FOUR years from now, UST will be able to extend Thomasian education to Santa Rosa, Laguna, the first campus of the University outside Metro Manila, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. has bared.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Varsitarian after ending his four-year term as rector, Fr. Dagohoy said the site development plan by the Makati-based TCGI Engineers was submitted to him last March and the construction contract was ready for bidding.

“The site development plan is finished. Actually, it’s ready for bidding but it was caught up with the transition, so it’s up to the Economic Council now to take that up and continue the work we have started,” Fr. Dagohoy said.

“Site development will take over a year, and then the construction of the building will take a year and a half. That would mean 2017 or 2018,” Fr. Dagohoy said. “Plus one year for planning for academic personnel, so that’s 2019, practically just in time for the first batch of K to 12 graduates. So, it will open in 2020.”

New undergraduate programs will be offered in the new campus. “Mga bagong programs ito na ginawa ng Science and Engineering. We are not planning to open new programs here in the España campus [because] we are congested here,” he said.

The construction of the Santa Rosa campus was first announced by Fr. Dagohoy in his Rector’s Report last year.

Mindanao campus

The Santa Rosa campus will open ahead of another planned expansion project, the General Santos Campus in Mindanao, which has stalled due to lack of government permits. The General Santos (GenSan) campus site sits on 82 hectares of agricultural land that needs conversion for institutional use.

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Fr. Dagohoy said he was able to secure approval of city officials but at the national level, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had yet to approve the permit that would allow further development of the satellite campus.

UST bought the land for P96 million in 1997.

“Plans for the GenSan campus started way back during the time of Fr. Tamerlane Lana. That was 20 years ago. That’s how delayed we are as far as [the] GenSan [campus] is concerned,” Fr. Dagohoy said.

DAR first approved the conversion of the land in 2003 and issued another order in 2008, extending the development period of the site until 2013. The order expired on July 22, 2013, putting the construction of the UST GenSan campus on hold.

In 2013, the General Santos City Council approved the change in the zoning classification of the property to institutional from agricultural through City Ordinance no. 15 s. 2013.

Fr. Dagohoy said the University would have to reassess the programs to be offered in General Santos, citing the “fast-changing educational landscape.”

Documents submitted to the city council indicated that UST planned to offer the following programs: Bachelor in Secondary Education (major in English, Math and Science), Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Bachelor of Science in Entertainment and Multimedia Computing, and Bachelor of Science in Tourism.

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