The University of Southern Mindanao (USM) is a premier land grant university in Southern Philippines. Formerly known as the Mindanao Institute of Technology (MIT), the USM was founded by the late Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang, a dedicated Muslim educator and philanthropist. Formally starting its operations on October 1, 1954, the USM achieved its university status through P.D. 1312 on March 13, 1978.
USM is one of the four leading state universities in the country that achieved excellence in agricultural education. Today, it is one of the nine among 120 or so state-owned universities and colleges (SUCs) that earned Level IV status. In the first half of 2005, it was rated very satisfactory by the Department of Budget and Management Regional Office XII using the same instrument as that used in the level accreditation process.
USM has a total of 5, 129.97 hectares: Kabacan main campus has 1, 024 hectares; Arakan Valley campus, 4,091 hectares; and USM-Kidapawan City Campus, 14.97 hectares. Most of its land is used for agricultural projects.
For five decades now, USM has produced marketable graduates who have distinguished themselves with these marks: leadership, industry, and dedication to work. Until today, the university continues to instill the value of academic excellence and hard work among its students.
The University maintains an enviable track record of producing topnotchers and passers of various board examinations. It has gained international reputation in educating the youths that excel in skills competitions and in motivating its faculty and staff to lead in various fields of research. Ever pioneering and adventurous, USM will continue to provide educational leadership not only in the region but also nationwide. Innovative, research-driven, flexible, relevant, and very entrepreneurial—-that’s USM at the age of 50 and beyond.
The USM main campus used to be a rubber plantation owned and managed by a Scott named Mr. Fleming, who was granted an area of 1, 024 hectares in 1909. The ownership changed hands several times until the Japanese occupation, when it came under the control of Ohta Development Company. After the Americans defeated the Japanese in 1944, this compound was taken over by the United States government until it was transferred to the Philippine government in 1947. It was not until the 1950’s that a respected Maguindanao princess, Bai Matabay Plang, started the move to establish the Mindanao Institute of Technology (MIT) with the rubber plantation areas as the proposed location. She was supported in this venture by Datu Udtog Matalam, the governor then of the Empire Province of Cotabato, together with Congressman and later House Speaker Salipada Pendatun of the same Province.
With President Elipidio Quirino’s signing on June 20, 1952 the R.A 763, the law creating the MIT, Bai Matabay Plang became more inspired to establish a state college in Southern Mindanao. On June 10, 1954, Pres. Ramon Magsaysay signed the Republic Act No. 998 the enabling act for the establishment and subsequent operation for MIT which got initial allocation of P 200, 000 for the school’s operation.
On March 13, 1978, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed the Presidential Decree No. 1312 which converted the MIT into a University with Dr. Jaman S. Imlan as the first University President. As University, the USM functions were mandated to have a trilogy of functions: instruction, research, and extension. The three functions later expanded to four (instruction, research, extension, and resource generation).
Four Fold Functions
Instruction is provided for tertiary and advanced education levels which offer a variety of courses and fields of specialization. In addition, the University maintains laboratory schools for elementary and high school for its teacher education degrees.
To compliment institution, research comes as another major function of the University. Research activities are mostly carried out by its research arms: the University of Southern Mindanao Agricultural Research Center (USMARC) and the Philippine Industrial Crops Research Institute (PICRI). USMARC is the national research center for corn, sorghum, and fruit crops; the regional center for rice and other cereals, livestock and farming systems, water resources, applied rural sociology, cutflowers, and ornamental plants; and a cooperating station for coconut and vegetable crops. PICRI, on the other hand, is the national research institute for rubber, fiber crops, coffee, spices, cacao, and other industrial crops. Attached to PICRI is the Philippine Rubber Testing Center (PRTC), a testing center for dried natural rubber. USM also hosts two organized bodies which do research and development activities: the Cotabato Agricultural and Resources Research and Development Consortium (CARRDEC), a research consortium of various agencies in Central Mindanao and the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), a member of the national PCC network.
Coordinated by the University’s Extension Office, extension work is carried out by the different colleges and research units either on their own or in collaboration with other government agencies as well as private organizations. Provision of extension service takes the form of trainings on various subject areas for different clientele groups most of whom are farmers, technical assistance to various sectors, social laboratory projects, demonstration farms, consultancy services and public education through personal contacts and the mass media: radio, print, and video.
Effectively operated and managed, the University’s resource generation program generates a sizeable income to augment the operating fund of the University and to serve as laboratory for horticulture, animal science, agronomy, and agribusiness majors. Among its projects are: rice, corn; buffalo, cattle and sheep; swine; poultry; durian, lanzones, mango, calamansi and other citrus fruits, coconut, banana, marang, guyabano, rambutan, and pineapple, to name some. The USM is noted for its OPV corn seeds and quality grafted/budded seedlings of various fruit and plantation crops.