The University of San Carlos (USC or colloquially shortened to San Carlos) is a private, Catholic and research university in Cebu City which is administered and managed by the Society of the Divine Word since 1935. It provides basic education (Montessori academy, grade school, and junior high school), senior high school, undergraduate and graduate studies higher education.
USC is among the biggest university in Cebu City with all 5 campuses combined. It is ranked top five nationwide and top one in the Visayas and Mindanao with the most number of Centers of Excellence (8 COEs) and Centers of Development (12 CODs) awarded and recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as of March 2016. USC is also one of the selected few universities in the country ranked by the International/World Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Rating among the Top 350 Universities in Asia as of 2016 (USC is the lone Cebu based university and one of the universities in the Visayas and Mindanao that were cited by QS as among internationally recognized universities in the Philippines). The university is certified with International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001:2015 Quality Management System for Institutional and Student Support Services as of September 2017 by Technischer Uberwachungsverein (TUV) Sud Asia Pacific.
USC's claims as the "oldest educational institution or school in Asia" has been a long time subject of disputes from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila who on the other hand claims to be the "oldest university in Asia".
USC consists of five campuses in different areas of Metro Cebu – the Downtown Campus (formerly the Main Campus) along P. del Rosario St.; the Talamban Campus (TC) along Gov. M. Cuenco Ave., Brgy. Talamban; the North Campus (formerly the Boys High Campus) along Gen. Maxilom Ave; the South Campus (formerly the Girls High) along corners J. Alcantara St. (P. del Rosario Ext.) and V. Rama Avenue; and the newest is the Montessori Academy along F. Sotto Drive (at the back of USC North Campus).
The university, as an autonomous institute as per the modern definition of a university, started to function in 1867. Though claims have been made to its origin as an autonomous institute at the time of opening of a seminary as a religious school of indoctrination in 1783. University even stretches the claim of its origin back to founding of another center of religious teaching in 1559, which was later closed down. Thus claims about being the oldest, and being a university in its earlier versions or the claims of using shut down institutes as its constituents are concocted and disputed.
According to the university's claim, San Carlos traces its roots to the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by three Spanish colonial Jesuits priests Antonio Sedeno, Pedro Chirino and Antonio Pereira on August 1, 1595. It was closed in 1769 at the expulsion of the Jesuits. In 1783, the initiative of the Bishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo opened the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. In 1852, the management of the college was entrusted to the Dominican Christian priests, replaced in 1867 by the Vincentian Fathers then, in 1935, the Societas Verbi Divini or the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The Second World War led to the interruption of the courses in 1941 because several buildings suffered various amounts of destruction. The buildings reopened as repairs were made over the course of 1945 and 1946. The Colegio de San Carlos (CSC) was granted its university charter in 1948. The University was named after St. Charles Borromeo.
However, this position is contested by some scholars. According to Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas, a professor at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of Cebu, “following Church tradition, the foundation event and date of University of San Carlos should be the decree of Bishop Romualdo Jimeno on 15 May 1867 (turning over the seminary to the Congregation of the Missions) and the first day of classes in the history of what is now USC is 1 July 1867, the day P. Jose Casarramona welcomed the first lay students to attend classes at the Seminario de San Carlos.” Thus, he says that San Carlos cannot claim to have descended from the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Jesuits in 1595, despite taking over the latter’s facilities when the Jesuits were expelled by Spanish authorities in 1769. According to him there is “no visible and clear link” between Colegio de San Ildefonso and USC. San Carlos was specifically for the training of diocesan priests, and it simply took over the facility of the former, a Jesuit central house with an attached day school.
In 1924, San Carlos split into two under a Vatican decree that seminaries should only be for priestly training. In the 1930s, the San Carlos college moved to a different location, P. Del Rosario Street, while the seminary remained at Martires Street. The Society of the Divine Word took over the college in 1935.
The Second World War saw the closure and occupation of CSC by Japanese troops. Shortly before Liberation, in 1944, bombs from US planes fell on San Carlos, almost reducing the school to rubbles. San Carlos became a university in 1948, three years after it reopened. The seminary, meanwhile, was returned to diocesan control in 1998.
Following Communist persecution of the foreign clergy in China in 1949, the University of San Carlos would benefit from the migration of SVD priest-scholars to the Philippines. This accidental émigré culture in USC spawned pioneering research in anthropology, physics, engineering, philosophy, and other fields, in the Philippines. This would have tremendous impact on the nation’s Post-War reconstruction.
Rapid expansion of the University during the 1960s under the leadership of foreign priest-academicians came with the decade’s wave of militant nationalism, which culminated in calls for the Filipinization of the administration of all Catholic schools in the country. In 1970, Fr. Amante Castillo became the first Filipino president of USC.
The academic and curricular programs below are offered by the different schools of the university, the following are :
USC houses a Graduate School offering programs in School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Economics, School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Health Care Professions, and School of Law and Governance.
The official student publication of USC is Today's Carolinian (TC), which is run by its editorial board and staff composed of graduate and undergraduate students of the university. The official slogan of the publication is "Our Commitment. Your Paper." According to its website and Facebook page, the publication began as a re-established student publication of the University of San Carlos during the 80's, almost 10 years after Marcos' Martial Law seized the existence of student publications and other student institutions nationwide. It happened when the students launched its first strike against the administration to reinstate the student council and the student publication of the USC. The students were victorious in reinstating the Student Government. And then, the latter eventually brought back the student publication on September 1983 with Jose Eleazar Bersales as its transition Editor-in-Chief. With TC's incisive analysis on issues concerning the University and the country, not to mention its commitment to quality journalism, there was no doubt that TC became the premier student publication among the universities in Cebu. After some time in the early 2000s, the publication was shut down again and, with the efforts of the university's supreme student council, re-emerged in 2012.
The USC Press is the official academic publishing house of the University of San Carlos. Since 1975 to present the university had published about 500 volumes of research journals and about 110 books of academic researches of the faculty, scholars, alumni and partners. The major research journals published are the Philippine Scientist a journal of natural sciences; Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society a journal of humanities, arts, culture, history and social sciences; and research journals produced by different research centers and units of USC such as the Cebuano Studies Center, Kabilin Heritage Center, Water Resources Center, Office of Population Studies, Business Resource Center, and the different academic schools and departments of the university.
There are 35 books published by USC Press from 2008 to 2015 which cover and involve the following subjects and areas of interests : Historical Images of Cebu during colonial era; Religious Heritage of the Archdiocese of Cebu; Ancestral Houses and Heritage Sites of Cebu and Bohol; Cebuano Literature, Poetry, Language, Culture and Arts; Philippine Architecture (partnership with the University of Michigan); 75th years of SVD Mission at USC; Culinary Heritage of Cebu; Churches of Bohol before and after the 2013 earthquake; 75th years of the USC College of Engineering; Battle of Cebu during the American Commonwealth era; Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile of Cebu based on 2010 Census; Birds of Cebu and Bohol; War in Cebu during the Japanese era of World War II and the History of Cebu province (consisting of 53 volumes for 3 independent cities, 6 component cities, 44 municipalities) which was commissioned by the provincial government of Cebu in 2008.
The USC Press published book “The Birds of Cebu and Bohol” won the prestigious 34th National Book Award in the Science Category for 2015 bestowed by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critic’s Circle. The other two books published by USC Press : “The Battle for Cebu” and “Pagsulay: The Churches of Bohol Before and After the 2013 Earthquake” were also awarded as Finalists in the History and Art categories respectively. USC Press joined the annual national competition of the NBDB in 2013.
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