In 1961, at its first meeting to establish the Mindanao State University, the board of regents created the Institute of Research for Filipino Culture (IFRC). The office was one of the first four priority University department (including the colleges of liberal Arts, Social and Political Science and Education), which opened in June 1962, to implement the University Charter (Republic Act 1893). Section 2 of said Law says that the university
“… shall primarily give professional training besides providing advanced instructions in literature, philosophy, the science and arts. More emphasis, however, shall be given in teaching of Filipino Culture, Art, Science, Philosophy and Literature. Researches on these lines shall be undertaken by the University.”
In 1967, the IFRC’s name was changed to the University Research Center (URC) as its functions expanded to include other investigations in the broad fields of the humanities and the natural and physical science. URC’s objective and functions were:
- To formulate policies and adopt measures for the encouragement of research at the University;
- To receive and administer grants, donations, gifts and endowments given to and through the University for the promotion of research;
- To award funds for research and secure assistance for research;
- To administer research funds in accordance with accounting rules and regulations;
- To coordinate research activities at the university here and abroad;
- To publish complete research projects and other materials of scientific and cultural interest related to the function of the center;
- To undertake its own research projects and other activities and would promote research; and
- To serve as a repository for the library and archival material from research projects conducted on campus and elsewhere.
In 1989, most of these functions (except Nos. 6-8) were removed from and URC and elevated to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE), which was created in line with the concept of MSU as a University System. The OVCRE became charged with approving for funding and supervising all research extension proposal and activities emanating from the Marawi campus. For its part, the URC became OVCRE’s facilitator and monitoring arm for research undertaking on campus. It’s former Dean of research, now designated as Director of Research, became co-chairman with the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension in the deliberations and approval of research proposal submitted to the OVCRE.
Without having changed its name as a “research center” however, the URC under the OVCRE continued to operate with its four working divisions: Publication, which was charged with preparing center and also some OVCRE publication; Folklore, literature; the library, which served as the storage for exchange publications and copies of research reports, dissertations, theses and important documents and primary materials; and Administration, which supported the above divisions with materials and supplies and service assistance, it also continued to conduct its own research projects with OVCRE approval. These functions continue to the present day.
Through the efforts of Dr. Mamitua Saber, the founder and dean of the IFRC and URC, the Center had embarked on productive research and regular publications since 1974. To this day it continues to publish the Mindanao Journal,the University’s multi-discipline periodical since 1974; the Mindanao Art & culture, largely the productions of the Folklore Division, since 1979; and others for scholarly papers, like the MSU Professional Papers series. In its most well-funded years in the 1980’s, it also published various College periodicals, like the Arts and Science Journal, the Journal of Fisheries and aquaculture and the Development Administration Journal, as well as numerous independently titled books by single authors from the Philippines and abroad… these internationally-distributed publications helped make a name for Mindanao State University and place it in the world map of educational institutions of higher learning. Until 2004, only the first three continued to be published in print and after that year even these began to come out on-line only on the internet at the MSU website.
One of URC’s outstanding publications was the Darangen epic of the Meranao, consisting of eight hardbound volumes (with 21 episodes included), produced through ten years by the Folklore Division under Dr. Ma. Delia Coronel (now retired). Through this collection, the Darangen was declared a “national treasure.” The UNESCO proclaimed it as a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of Humanity.”
On January 31, 1992, Dr. Saber died. A founding father of the University, he had sat as one of the original members of the MSU board of Regents that crafted the University according to its Charter. In honor and memory of this eminent historian and sociologist and founder also of the Aga Khan Museum and Natural Science Museum, the University Board of Regents issued Resolution No. 14, series of 1992, changing the name of the URC to Mamitua Saber Research Center (MSRC).
In 2000, the MSRC building burned down with all of its office equipment and priceless historical primary documents on Mindanao that covered the 1900 to 1945 period. Said materials had been painstakingly accumulated through 38 years of the Center’s existence. Many of them could never be reconstructed. Also lost were more than 300 volumes of archival materials about MSU since its founding in1961; more than 200 volumes of rare and classical books; folkloric archives, including originals from the Darangen and other Mindanao folk literature; and 7,500 books and periodicals and copies of MSU dissertations, theses and other manuscripts.
Also, MSRC had no office building to work in. even after 2003, when Dr. Federico V. Magdalena, Director of Research after Dr. Saber, left MSU, and Prof. Intuas Abdullah took over, the Center continued to do what it could at its own rehabilitation and reconstruction, despite financial constraints. Fortunately, the University rebuilt the old bowling alley to serve as the new MSRC office. In 2006, through the efforts of Ms. Mindamera Saber-Macarambon and the establishment for the MSU-ACEF Projects the construction of the “Mamitua Saber Research and Technology Center” building was finished on Second Street, near the Administration Building, MSU Campus, Marawi City. On this new address, the MSRC is now relocated.