Dr. Macapado Abaton Muslim was appointed on March 5, 2010 by Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal as the 6th Regular President of the now 11-campus Mindanao State University System. Hon. Patricia Sto. Tomas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Development Bank of the Philippines, administered his oath. He was Acting President of MSU from January 4, 2008 to March 4, 2010. It should be noted that Dr. Muslim ranked No. 1 in the 2005 Search for the MSU Presidency authorized by the Office of the President of the Philippines. Reportedly, he was also among the front-runners in the 1999 Search for MSU President, despite his young age at the time.
His topping the 2005 Search and his eventual appointment as Acting President on January 4,2008 and, subsequently, as regular President of MSU on March 5, 2010 are obviously due to the fact that he fits well the scholar-manager model that is used worldwide in the selection of university presidents or chancellors.
Dr. Muslim's identity as a scholar is anchored on a strong educational background. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science at the University of Hawaii (UH), Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. in 1990 with a GPA of 4.0 or excellent (he got "A" in all subjects). He was a consistent East-West Center scholar at UH. Providing the strong foundation for his advanced studies at UH were his studies at the University of the Philippines (UP), where he earned his Master of Public Administration (MPA) in 1980 and at Mindanao State University Main Campus in Marawi City, where he finished his Bachelor of Science in Public Administration (BSPA) in 1978. At UP-National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), Dr. Muslim was a recipient of a Full Scholarship grant. At MSU, he enjoyed two scholarships, namely, the MSU-funded Full Scholarship, which he got through promotion based on superior academic performance and a National Integration Scholarship Grant from the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS). It is significant to note that Dr. Muslim was admitted to MSU in 1971 after undergoing a one-summer College Bound Program (CBP), a remedial education program for Muslim students which MSU implements even to this day in view of its demonstrated effectiveness.
Dr. Muslim's impressive educational background and his love for books and the teaching profession translate to his effective performance in instruction, research and publication. He joined MSU Marawi in June 1980 as Instructor and rose to the highest academic rank of Professor VI, handling graduate and undergraduate courses in Public Administration and Ph.D. in Philippine Studies. Moreover, he taught in the MPA Program of MSU-General Santos for the entire duration of his 11-year chancellorship there. Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Muslim continued doing research and producing some significant publications. His academic and research interests are in the fields of development administration and governance in multicultural societies, conflict resolution and peace studies, political leadership, international politics, regional and local governance and, recently, higher education. His book, The Moro Armed Struggle in the Philippines: The Non-violent Autonomy Alternative (1994) was described by the Commandant of the AFP's Joint Services Command and Staff College as providing "an incisive analysis of the "Moro Problem." Said book has been a significant reference material for the peace panels of the Government, MNLF and MILF, foreign agencies and other stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process. He has several articles published in national and international journals and publications. His paper, entitled, "Poverty Alleviation and Peace Building in Multiethnic Societies: The Need for a Multiculturalist Governance," delivered at the Launching Conference of the Network of Asia-Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance (NAPSIPAG) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2004 was published separately by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Philippine Journal of Public Administration (PJPA). Dr. Muslim's research works in the above areas brought him as lecturer or resource speaker to several seminars and conferences in the Philippines and other countries (USA, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Libya).
Dr. Muslim's strengths as a scholar are complemented by a solid track record as academic manager and leader. During his first year as Instructor in the College of Public Affairs of MSU-Marawi, Dr. Muslim, then only 24 years old, was recruited on concurrent capacity as Special Staff Assistant at the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA), which, at that time, was practically functioning as the nerve center not only of the Marawi Campus but also of the whole MSU System. This role was his first rigid training in the various aspects of Marawi Campus and MSU System operations. A few years later, he was designated as Acting Director of the Office of Alumni Relations, in addition to his teaching functions and his designation as Special Staff Assistant at OVPAA.
Immediately after his reinstatement as a faculty in the College of Public Affairs after finishing his Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science, Dr. Muslim was elected Dean of the said College. This deanship gave him an opportunity to test and hone further his managerial and leadership skills. Moreover, a year after completing his three-year term as College Dean, the MSU Board of Regents elected him as Chancellor of MSU-General Santos in December 1995. He was reelected overwhelmingly for another five-year term in 2001. His accomplishments as Chancellor provided Dr. Muslim with a much stronger grasp of the intricacies of academic affairs, administration and finance, research and community service on campus and other levels of whole system. His experience in system-wide operation was made possible by his membership (ex-officio) in the MSU Board of Regents since his assumption as Chancellor of MSU-General Santos. The plaque of commendation presented by the Vice Chancellors and College Deans of MSU-General Santos to Dr. Muslim on March 2, 2007 states that his 11 years as Chancellor has made this university soar to higher levels of excellence and relevance. His enormous contributions to faculty development, equipment build-up, infrastructure development, clientele expansion, program diversification, affirmative actions for Muslims and Lumads, and expanded community services are testimonies of his foresight and forbearance... His demonstrated skills in campus management and governance sustained and greatly enhanced the university's impressive track record in licensure exams, making MSU-GSC one of the top performing higher education institutions in the country. Indeed, his successful stewardship of the University bears witness to his being a distinguished scholar and as excellent school administrator. "
Dr. Muslim also served as consultant on many projects in local and regional governance, peace building and university administration. He served as Management Consultant to the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) in 1991. He prepared a proposal on how to enhance and strengthen the organizational set-up of IIUM, which was considered extremely helpful by the Rector of the said university. He was also a Regional Consultant for the 7*, 8* and 9th Rapid Field Appraisals (RFAs) of Decentralization (1997, 1998 and 1999) under the Governance and Local Democracy (GOLD) Project of the Associates in Rural Development (ARD), which was funded by USAID. He was a member of the MSU Counterpart Team that worked with SGV in conducting studies on the organization, budgeting and financial reporting systems of MSU-Marawi in 1982. He supervised several regional and local governance capability building programs, teacher's training programs, youth leadership training programs, and peace building and conflict management projects on Mindanao funded by local, national and foreign agencies.
To keep abreast of developments in his fields, Dr. Muslim keeps his links to relevant academic and professional organizations. He served as National Vice President of the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA), 2003-2007, and Vice President for Mindanao of East-West Center Alumni Association of the Philippines, 1996-1998, and has been actively supporting the activities of the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP), Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA) and Philippine Society for Public Administration (PSPA). He is also a member of the National Advisory Board of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program (IFP). Consistent with his advocacy for peace and non-violence, Dr. Muslim is an associate of the Center for Global Nonviolence based in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA and a co-founder and convenor of the Movement for a Non-killing Philippines.
Recognizing his accomplishments in public service. Dr. Muslim was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award by the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance last May 2008. He was also a recipient of the 1998 Dean Reed Memorial Scholarship Award for "Outstanding Achievements and Future Potentials on Behalf of World Peace" from the Institute of Peace. University of Hawaii.
Dr. Muslim's participation in the search for MSU President was anchored primarily on his firm belief that the best solution to the Mindanao confIict is education and, to him, MSU is one effective instrument for that purpose. His being an MSU alumnus is another push factor.
A closer analysis of the career path of Dr. Muslim will reveal his pole-vaulting rise to the helm of MSU leadership. He became College Dean without serving in lower level positions, like Department Chairman. College Secretary and Assistant Dean. He then became Campus Chancellor without serving as Vice Chancellor and Assistant Vice Chancellor. Now. he has been appointed MSU President without serving in lower level positions like Executive Vice President, Vice President and University BOR Secretary.
It should be noted that Dr. Muslim's nomination for the MSU Presidency was supported by the great majority of the academic leaders, faculty, staff, the studentry and alumni, not only of the MSU Main Campus but the whole MSU System. This has not happened in the past search processes at MSU. Two months after Dr. Muslim's assumption is Acting President, the MSU Board of Regents adopted unanimously Resolution No.4, Series of 2008, strongly indorsing to President Arroyo his appointment as regular President to give him "security and stability... which are vital to the implementation of corrective measures to effectively solve the current problems confronted by the University." Similarly, the Board of Directors of the Mindanao State University Alumni Association adopted Resolution No. 27, Series of 2008, indorsing to President Arroyo fie appointment of Dr. Muslim as regular President of MSU. The said resolution states that "Dr. Muslim was weighed, measured and subjected o rigid test by an objective and impartial Search Committee created ■ Malacanang, and was never found wanting as regular president of a university." It adds, "the Board perceives that Dr. Muslim is equal to the ask at hand and, in the short period has shown unwavering dedication to institute rational and meaningful reforms to make the University truly he haven of quality learning, the market of free ideas and the engine of change in Southern Philippines."
In the same vein, the chancellors and heads of all campuses of MSU and most of its academic and administrative leaders supported the appointment of Dr. Muslim as regular President of MSU. In their letter to 'resident Arroyo dated September 22, 2008, the chancellors and heads of MSU campuses emphasized several justifications why Dr. Muslim should be appointed regular President. They said that "his accomplishments ire indeed remarkable. These include his efforts in strengthening the income generation capacity and financial system of MSU Main Campus, he academic-needs-centered allocation of university resources that; emphasizes the acquisition of books, laboratory equipment, IT and other earning related resources and the significant improvement in security service and his initiatives in stopping new illegal structures on MSU lands in recovering those taken by squatters in the past." They added that Dr. Muslim's "current thrust on the proper delineation of the functions of the 'resident for the whole MSU System" and for the MSU Main Campus is its concurrent chief executive officer and other planned programs reflect his desire to bring back the old glory of MSU Main Campus and to strengthen the whole MSU System."
It should be noted also that Dr. Muslim was indorsed by all of the College Deans and the great majority of the faculty (more than 800) ) of MSU Main Campus. In addition, the Supreme Student Government ) of MSU Main Campus lauded the accomplishments and reforms of Dr. Muslim as Acting President and indorsed his appointment as regular 'resident.
In terms of support from regional and local leaders, it is important to stress that Dr. Muslim was supported by almost all of the Muslim members of the House of Representatives headed by the Deputy
Speaker for Mindanao (composed of nine Congressmen) one of them, who hails from Lanao del Sur. stated in his letter to Pres. Arroyo that Dr. Muslim is "an extraordinarily qualified candidate. His intimate grasp of the challenges that confront the University as it gears up for the future, will make him one of the most effective MSU Presidents that this decade will ever see." Equally important, several Christian leaders on Mindanao indorsed Dr. Muslim's appointment. In his letter to President Arroyo, the Govemor of a predominantly Christian province on Mindanao expressed his firm belief that "we need well-educated Muslims in the academe who will help the government in its efforts of promoting peace and development and whose record speaks of excellence and competence."
When asked to explain his recent appointment as 6lh President of MSU. Dr. Muslim's quick answer was: "It was brought about by a combination of hard work, noble intention for MSU and destiny." Regarding the last item, destiny or drvme plan. Dr. Muslim related that he was born on a Friday, noon prayer time. It is perhaps a Maranao superstition that a person born on such day and time would become a leader. But while his rapid rise in the leadership of MSU is not an ordinary achievement, he is averse to aggressive pursuit of political power. To him. what is important is that a person offers his service and exerts his utmost efforts to enhance his chances. He said that since the start of the search all his efforts and activities have been guided manly by the Quranic verse that states: "Allah is the ultimate giver and withdrawer of power and sovereignty."
Guiding various academic programs, reforms and initiatives of Dr. Muslim since he assumed as Acting President in January 2008 is his vision for a "New MSU in the 21st Century, with the following elements:
To realize the above vision. Dr. Muslim has adopted a twelve-point governance reform agenda:
When asked about his chances of succeeding in addressing the multifarious problems confronting the MSU Main Campus and the whole MSU System, he was optimistic. To him, significant gains realized under his leadership in the last more than years were encouraging. Dr. Muslim is confident that his vision for a New MSU can be achieved with the support and cooperation of all stakeholders of MSU. He said: "What MSU needs right now is for every MSUan to start saying sincerely 1 love my MSU' and subsequently start living and walking that talk to usher in a New MSU, i.e., a re-energized and reinvented MSU for the benefit of the youth of MINSUPALA region, as mandated by the MSU Charter. As the 6th President of MSU, rest assured that I will continue living and walking that talk of love for our dear MSU with my utmost levels of hard work, dedication, integrity and professionalism."