The Western Mindanao State University (WMSU will formally install Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho as its fifth president during the investiture ceremonies this afternoon at the Dr. Juanito A. Bruno Gymnasium.

Commissioner Nona S. Ricafort of the Commission on Higher Education, who chairs the WMSU Board of Regents (BOR), will preside over the investiture.

The investiture will be attended by Cong. Juan Eduardo M. Angara, who sits in the BOR as chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education and Mayor Celso Lobregat.

Ho’s formal installation to office came three months after winning the election last April 16 with six out of 10 regents voting in her favor.

She bested three other candidates for the position, namely; then University Board Secretary Dr. Armando Arquiza, Dr. Marilou Elago, dean of the College of Science and Math, and Dr. Gloria Florendo, dean of the College of Nursing.

Serving WMSU for almost 34 years now, Ho had previously served as university/board secretary, vice president for research and extension development and vice president for academic affairs, among others.

The WMSU presidency was left vacant after Dr. Rebollos’s term ended in September 2011. Three women candidates vied for the position. They were former CHED Commissioner Dr. Luningning Umar, Dr. Ho and Dr. Elago.

Umar won in the first election and officially occupied the post on November 15, 2011.

However, her stint was short-lived, after the Civil Service Commission disqualified her from the position on account of being a CHED commissioner having direct supervision over the very institution she wanted to lead as president.

The issue resulted in a legal controversy, haunting the WMSU presidency until the CSC declared Umar’s election null and void from the very beginning. In effect, WMSU did not have a sitting president since Dr. Rebollos left the office in September of 2011.

Seven months later, the WMSU Board of Regents convened anew in Manila last April 16 and finally elected Dr. Ho as the 5th University president, succeeding Rebollos.

The WMSU Board of Regents is chaired by CHED Commissioner Patricia B. Licuanan, represented by Commissioner Nona S. Ricarfort as the presiding chairperson, with Dr. Ho, vice chairperson; Senator Eduardo J. Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, represented by Renato S. San Agustin; Rep. Juan Eduardo M. Angara, chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, represented by Mayor Celso L. Lobregat; NEDA-9 Regional Director Teresita Socorro C. Ramos, WMSU Alumni Association President Charlie Mariano, WMSU Faculty Union President Grace C. Tillah-Alasco, University Student Council President Alvin Rex M. Lucero, and private sector representatives Servando M. Evangelista and Rafael G. Evangelista.

Founded in 1901 by virtue or Republic Act 372, WMSU started as a secondary school in Zamboanga, and became a tributary normal school to the Philippine Normal College in Manila in 1909. In 19014, it became the Provincial Normal School. In 1961, by virtue of RA 3272, the school was elevated to the Zamboanga Normal College, which was converted in 1969 to the Zamboanga State College pursuant to RA 5492, until June 10, 1978 when it became a university by its present name pursuant to PD 1427 with the late Dr. Juanito A. Bruno as the first/acting president.

In 1986, the late Dr. Bernabela L. Ko became the second president and the first woman to hold the position until 1991. From 1991 to 1997, WMSU was under Dr. Erdulfo B. Fernando presidency, and was succeeded by Dr. Eldigario D. Gonzales (1997-2007).

In September 2007, Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, the first summa cum laude graduate of the university, became the 4th president until September 2011.

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