The year 1953 marked the modest beginning of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University which started as an annex of Notre Dame of Lagao. Like its parent school, ND Dadiangas was a high school for both boys and girls in the Dadiangas area. While Notre Dame of Lagao was handed over by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Fathers to the Marist Brothers (FMS) in 1952, the Brothers, solely established the annex school ND Dadiangas, with Brother Damian Teston, FMS as the first school Director. This was the first school founded by the Marist Brothers in the Philippines; the second one was the Marist School in Marikina in 1964.

The first four years under Brother Teston was marked with informal structures and work arrangements. The Brothers in the community helped each other in running the school.

Two years later, in 1955, Notre Dame of Dadiangas became independent of Notre Dame of Lagao. The first Marist Community of Dadiangas was composed of Brothers Alfred George Ouellette, FMS, Michael O’Keefe, FMS and Sergio Dignadice. The Brothers bought a four-hectare land for the High School Boys Department. After winning some legal battles on the ownership of the land, the Brothers developed the four-hectare land site into a high school campus. In 1958, the Brothers handed the old school site near the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage church to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. The Sisters run the school exclusively for the girls while the Brothers administered Notre Dame of Dadiangas, exclusively for the boys.

In 1959, Brother Michael O’Keefe, FMS, opened the College Department and in 1961 Brother Nicholas Grogan, FMS, opened the Elementary Department, a requirement for the opening of education programs. The College started with three courses: Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Bachelor of Arts and Certificate in Secretarial Science with 161 students. The Elementary Department started with 108 pupils. Brother Grogan served as the first Elementary Department principal. In SY 1963-64, in a major move that strengthened the Marist-Lay Partnership, Ms. Purificacion Llido was appointed principal. A more organized structure has started to evolve during this period, and more lay people handled responsibilities in the administration, to include: Mr. Artemio Sevilla as the High School and College Registrar, Ms. Eremita Alameda as Chief Librarian and Ms. Pilar Ferraren as the Guidance Counselor.

In school year 1966 – 67, Brother Henry Ruiz, FMS, took over as school Director. During this period two big industrial companies DOLE-Philippines and Standard Philippine Fruit Company (STANFILCO) has started to operate in the area. Then in 1968 Dadiangas became General Santos City. These developments opened job opportunities and migrants flock to the city. From 1960 to 1975, the population of Gen. Santos City increased by 160.51%. Consequently, the enrollment at NDDC also grew fast. It was during Brother Ruiz administration, in the first semester of SY 1970-71, that the school attained its 1000th mark in enrollment.

Brother Ruiz responded well, and with vision for the future, he constructed a three-storey building, now the Henry Ruiz Hall. This served the needs for classrooms in the next two decades. To strengthen the presence of religious at NDDC, Brother Ruiz obtained the services of the Oblates of Notre Dame Sisters. In SY 1996-97, a convent on campus was built for them. In addition he created three positions: Dean of Men, Dean of Women and Dean of Studies, in response to the growing enrollment. Brother Isidro Seranillo, Sr. Lily Lauron and Brother Bernard Curtin served in these positions respectively.

After Brother Ruiz, Brother Herbert Daniel Dumont, FMS, became Director for one school year. In 1973, the late and former Marist Brother Samuel Geveso, FMS, assumed the leadership of the school and became the first Filipino Brother to head the school and the first to use the title of President. In November 1974, Brother Geveso appointed the first lay Dean of Studies, Ms. Olympia Cristobal. She was to succeed Brother Curtin in that position. Before Brother Curtin, it was the school Director who performed the functions of the Dean of Studies.

In SY 1976-77, Brother Paul Meuten, FMS, assumed NDDC’s presidency and he prepared the school for its accreditation by the Philippine Association for Accrediting Schools, Colleges, & Universities (PAASCU). He was clear on his vision: To have NDDC accredited. Brother Meuten is best remembered for establishing the systems in school operation. Many documents today evolved from the ones he prepared to include the policy manual, the student handbook and the like. Brother Meuten also created four major positions and appointed all lay people to them. This strengthened the lay presence in the management of academics. They were: Academic Chairman of Commerce, major in Accounting, Ms. Corazon Gacal; Academic Chairman of Commerce, major in Management, Mr. Teodoro Velez; Academic Chairman of Liberal Arts, Ms. Gloria Tagorda; and Director of Science Education, Ms. Gelita Morales.

NDDC obtained its first formal accreditation under Brother James McKnight, FMS, who assumed the presidency in SY 1979-80. The concept of Small Business Management Advisory Council (SBMAC) started during his term. This became NDDC’s first organized Community Extension Service. Two academic degree programs were opened under him: BS Mathematics and BS Guidance and Counseling. The idea of the merger of Notre Dame of Dadiangas and ND Lagao also started during his term. In SY 1981-82, Brother McKnight also appointed Ms. Lolita Antic as the first lay assistant principal. She served up to 1984.

Brother McKnight built the campus chapel through fund raising. The community was supportive of the project and Brother McKnight appreciated this, in particular, the help he got from the parents of the elementary pupils. He believed that this chapel is a visible indicator of the school’s effort to strengthen the spiritual life of the community.

Brother McKnight also constructed the roofing of the open space on the fourth floor of Brother Ruiz Hall, converted Room 301 to an audio-visual room, now known as AVR-1, and constructed the Student Center.

In SY 1982-1983, Brother Manuel Uluan, FMS, assumed the presidency. Under him, many major events took place: the school obtained a five-year accreditation, Brother Robert McGovern, FMS, Vice President for External affairs opened the Business Resource which evolved from Small Business Management Advisory Council (SBMAC); the merger of Notre Dame Lagao and Notre Dame Dadiangas High School was implemented. Two courses were also opened under him: BS Engineering and BS Nursing Program, the last, as a joint endeavor with General Santos Doctors’ Hospital. Brother Robert McGovern recruited a St. Paul Sister, Sr. Mary Mathew Damo, SPC, to head the newly opened Nursing Program. The first Marist Technical Training Program (MTTP) for the out-of-school youth of General Santos City and its environs was also opened. Another significant event was the opening of the Graduate School, independent of Notre Dame of Marbel College, now a University.

In 1985, Brother Leonard Sonza, FMS, took over as president. Brother Sonza was the first Filipino Provincial of the Marist – Philippines. He administered NDDC only for one year, SY 1985-86.

Brother Crispin Betita, FMS, became the President in School Year 1986-1987. He served for two terms, which made him President for six years. His accomplishments in the academic side included NDDC’s attainment of a Level III PAASCU accreditation, and the establishment of NDDC as Center of Early Childhood Education in Region XI. The school also started to supervise Valencia Academy, now Lorenzo Ruiz Academy of Polomolok.

It was during his term that the funds that “took care of the future” was established, to include the retirement and the development funds.

Under Brother Betita, the first extensive faculty development program was conceptualized and approved to solve the accreditation requirement for Master’s degree of the faculty. The Academic Council members responsible for this program that would later change the culture of the faculty in the area of professional development were College Dean, Mrs. Norma Segocio and Academic Chairpersons Alma Hordista, Nasie Seneriches, Edgardo Claudio, Hernane Carillo, and then faculty president Lilia Awayan. Brother Betita also appointed the first full time Dean of the Graduate School, Ms. Gelita Morales, who worked hand in hand with the College Dean to hasten the completion of the teacher’s masteral degrees. Ten years or so later, the impact of this faculty development program in the accreditation of different programs was strongly felt.

Another significant development on human resources development is the coming of the Marist Missionary Sister (SMSM), in September 1987, with Sr. Patricia Leamy, and Sister Malia Iosefina Iosefo, as the first to join the NDDC community.

Brother Betita’s very visible move to empower the lay was when he required all unit heads to prepare their own budgets and be responsible for their implementation and control.

The first written vision-mission of the school was formulated under his leadership. This set a clear direction for school development.

Brother Betita also constructed a two-storey building for the Elementary Training Department, now named Brother Reginald Theodore Hall. This was funded by a loan from the Social Security System (SSS). As the elementary pupils vacated their classrooms at the original one-storey building where O’Keefe building currently stands, more classrooms were available for the College. It was also during his term, in SY 1991-92 that the Elementary Department admitted girls to the school. This started with female children of employees and later was opened to all female applicants.

Brother Briccio J. Baynosa, FMS, became President in 1992. During his term, the Brother Roger Bagares Hall was constructed and dedicated to the first Filipino Brother who died in service. Simple but numerous improvements of the physical facilities included the campus parking lots, the kiosks, the maintenance work-area and office, the painting of the old high school office, the expansion of the chairpersons’ office and the faculty room, and the completion of the stage in the covered area. During Bro. Baynosa’s administration, Brother Robert McGovern, FMS, obtained the help of the German Doctors Association, and started the Mother and Child Center for indigent mothers and children of the SOCSARGEN area. This center opened in 1994 and up to the present, year 2012, this center continues to serve the poor.

Another significant development under Brother Baynosa’s administration was the organization of NDDC Mutual Health Benefit Fund (now program) [NDDC-MHBP], which was proposed by lay administrators composed of College Dean, Dr. Norma Segocio, Finance Officer, Mrs. Marites Gadia and Elementary Principal, Dr. Alma Hordista. This program was approved; policies were laid down by a committee and were implemented. This is a very significant achievement as this program served the financial needs of employees during hospitalizations, in the many years that followed. Since this program operated in the spirit of a cooperative, it became a very visible indicator of the concern of the members of NDDC family for each other.

In SY 1995-96, Brother Wilfredo E. Lubrico, FMS, assumed the presidency of NDDC. As of SY 2004-05, Brother Lubrico has completed two three-year terms and has been given one year extension twice. In SY 2005-06, he completed his eleven years of service as NDDC president.

Brother Lubrico came at a time when NDDC was already suffering a severe shortage of classrooms, laboratories and other facilities. He took bold moves to meet these needs. In SY 1997-1998, he built the Leonard Sonza Hall, followed by Michael O’Keefe Building in SY 2003-04. These buildings provided NDDC with much-needed classrooms, library expansion, the auditorium, two floor-faculty rooms, the Nursing and the Engineering laboratories. One building was also constructed in the High School Campus in Lagao, one in Espina Campus and one in the main campus for the elementary department. These were funded with grants, loans from banks, and internal borrowings.

The Elementary and the High School Departments obtained their accredited status, in year 1999 and 2001 respectively, under the principalship of Dr. Alma Hordista. In SY 1996-97, through donations obtained by Brother Robert McGovern, another elementary school was opened at the Espina Campus. This later developed into a school with socialized tuition. Mrs. Gloria Peralta served as the first assistant principal under the supervision of the Elementary, Main Campus, Principal.

April 1999: In the midst of all these development, the greatest event in the life, not only of NDDC, but of all Marist Schools and the Marist Congregation, was the canonization of St. Marcellin Champagnat on April 18, 1999. Three employees from Notre Dame of Dadiangas College, and seven from BRC and other community extension services attended the canonization rites in Rome. On that occasion, the same group proceeded to France to visit St. Marcellin’s place of origin, as well as the first Marist House in La Valla, France. This was a happy interlude in the fast-paced developments at NDDC.

In the college, developments continued: Many academic degree programs were opened to include: AB in Psychology, Political Science, Mass Communication; BS Biology, BS Architecture, BS in Electrical Engineering, BS Electronics and Communications Engineering, BS Library Science, BS Social Work, & BS in Criminology.

Brother Lubrico’s sustained support of the Faculty Development Program provided the school with sufficient qualified teachers. He pushed for the accreditation of all programs and this was made possible as PAASCU’s Master’s degree minimum requirement for accreditation was easily met. It was during his term that the school was granted the Autonomous Status by the Commission on Higher Education effective October 27, 2003. This was a distinct recognition of the school’s high performance in various aspects. In particular, these include high Board Performance of its graduates and the accredited status of six programs in the college: Liberal Arts, Education, Business Administration, Accountancy, Nursing and Civil Engineering.

As a benefit of the Autonomous Status, more degree programs were opened to include: BS Computer Engineering, BS Information Technology, BS Social Work and BS Criminology.

In the Graduate School, programs opened were: Master in Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy in Language Education and in Science Education, major in Biology.

Special programs were opened for the least favored sectors: the elementary and high school at Espina Campus with socialized tuition; the night shift in the high school in Lagao intended for students who work during the day; and the Marcellin Special Program in the College to serve the needs of students with low placement test results.

SY 2003 – 04: Notre Dame of Dadiangas College celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Many big events took place during this year.

Brother Lubrico reached out to the alumni both in and out of the country. He brought them to participate more actively in the year-long celebration. These composed not only of the alumni of Notre Dame of Dadiangas, but also included the alumni of Notre Dame of Lagao, the parent school of Notre Dame of Dadiangas. Many alumni came to join the Golden Jubilee Celebration. Former Presidents, who are already based in the U.S., came back for the occasion; among them were Brother Paul Meuten, Brother James McKnight, and the school founder, Brother Damian Teston.

During this period, the school core values were identified and are now contained in school documents. To make the Golden Jubilee more meaningful, administrators worked for more benefits from SY 2002-2003 to SY 2004-2005. The more significant of these are the accelerated ranking for the faculty and the deniminis benefits to include uniform assistance, rice allowance, death aid, 23rd year no summer teaching load, and study mission after 20th year of service. Dr. Alma Hordista, Dr. Norma Segocio and Mrs. Maritess Gadia, who proposed these obtained approval without difficulty. It was Brother Lubrico’s way of recognizing the role of the lay partners in school development.

One vision of Brother Lubrico was to obtain a University Status for NDDC. Towards this end, he prepared appropriate structures. Two additional Vice Presidents were created in SY 1996-97: the Vice President for Academics (VPA) and the Vice President for Administration (VPAd). Dr. Ruth Manubag became the first Vice President for Administration and Brother Lubrico who was President, also acted as Vice President for Academics. He was succeeded by Brother Manuel Uluan. In SY 2004-05, Dr. Norma Segocio was appointed as the first lay VPA. Further, in SY 2002-03, the Elementary and the High School in three Campuses were formed into one department, the Integrated Basic Education [IBED] with Dr. Alma Hordista as the first Director-Principal.

Brother Lubrico was officially ending his term on May 30, 2006, but on April 28, 2006, in an administrators’ forum, Bro. Lubrico did a symbolic turn over of responsibilities to his successor, Brother John Y. Tan, FMS. In preparation for SY 2006-07, Brother Tan conducted his first President’s council meeting on May 16, 2006.

Brother Tan started his first year as president of NDDC in SY 2006-2007. It was an interesting period in the life of the institution as many big events took place in succession. For one, the school was preparing for the ocular visit by the Commissioners of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to evaluate the school’s application for a University Status. The visit was scheduled on June 15 and 16, 2006. During the ocular visit, Brother John Tan, presented a compliance report before the commissioners, the school community and the guests from different sectors of the city.

The CHED Commissioners had their en banc meeting in the morning of June 26, 2006 to deliberate on the commissioners’ findings. By two o’clock in the afternoon of the same date, the school received the good news: CHED has granted NDDC a University Status. It was one of the happiest events for the NDDC community. The Board of Trustees met on July 11, 2006, and it has decided that the name of the school will be Notre Dame of Dadiangas University (NDDU).

The school had its inauguration as a University, together with the installation of Bro. John Y. Tan, FMS, as the first University president, on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, year 2006.

Living up to the expectation of the community from a newly declared University, School Year 2006-2007 was full of big events in the academic life of the school.

The month after its inauguration, in September 2006, three graduate school programs and six undergraduate programs were evaluated by PAASCU for accreditation or re-accreditation. The school, as it had just been evaluated for its university application, was ready for the accreditation. Nevertheless, the preparation kept the new president busy as he monitors and even sat in various meetings.

During the second week of November, barely two months after the PAASCU team visit, NDDU received the following accreditation result: Education, Business Administration, Arts and Sciences, and Accountancy were granted re-accreditation for five years, while Computer Science was for the three years.

On March 1 and 2, 2007, the PAASCU team came for the resurvey of the Elementary Department.

On May 18, 2007, PAASCU granted a five-year accreditation status to the Elementary Department and to the Industrial Engineering for three years. The Graduate programs [MBA, MPA and MAED] were given one year consultancy.

While these accreditation works were on going in three levels, the preparation of the five-year plan was done continuously.

By March 7, 2007, in a BOT meeting, the school five-year plan covering the school years 2007-08 to 2011-12 was approved and was ready for implementation as scheduled. One of the major components of the plan is the transfer of the Elementary Department to the Lagao Campus. Even before the start of School Year 2007-08, the school took the first big step in the implementation of this plan. On April 28, 2007, the university had the groundbreaking for the four-story building which will be constructed to house the classroom and other facilities for the Elementary Department.

Looking back, in the year 2004, NDDU (NDDC then) submitted its application for Center of Excellence/Center of Development (COE/COD) to CHED in four programs: Business, Nursing, Engineering and Teacher Education. There was no positive result on this. Thus, in February 2007, the administration worked to update the documents needed to revive the application. Much has happened in three years, so what was intended to be an updating of documents turned out to be an almost entirely new work. By May 8, 2007, these updated reports were sent to CHED to revive the previous applications. SY 2006-07 ended on May 31, 2007, as the school awaits the result of these applications.

During the SY 2008-2009, the evaluators of the programs being applied for COD/COE came to NDDU. Recommendations were given, and one area that would need improvement is Research. The administration agrees that this area is still in its struggling stage.

In this same school year, the Elementary Department moved to Lagao Campus. The Graduate School also moved to Bro. Reginald Laflamme Hall which was previously occupied by the Elementary Department. The Graduate School has now a home of its own where classrooms, conference rooms, defense rooms and professors’ room are provided for the students.

School year 2009-2010 was full of significant developments, too. Some changes in the organizational set-up took place. A new president, Bro. Manuel V. De Leon was appointed. However, as Bro. De Leon was also the Provincial Superior of the Marist East Asia Province, a new position was created, the Executive Assistant to the President, to assist him in his task as University President. The President in the past three years, Bro. John Y. Tan, FMS was assigned to the newly created position.

Another milestone in the life of the University was the grant of the renewal of the University’s Autonomous Status by the Commission on Higher Education. This is effective March 11, 2009 – March 20, 2014. Two new programs, Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management were opened. A laboratory for these programs was also constructed. Then during the First Semester, the IBED-High School Department was resurveyed by PAASCU and was granted five year renewal of its accreditation. During the first semester, both the College and the Graduate School were preparing their reports for PAASCU evaluation scheduled on February 1-6, 2010.

In June 2012, NDDU continued its mission to widen the educational program for the community. Four new programs were opened: Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Bachelor in Elementary Education major in Special Education. Two of these programs are in Health Sciences. These are alternative programs for BS Nursing, which has started to decline as a favored choice of parents and students.

When classes opened in June 2012, the enrollment for the new programs are as follows: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Medical Technology, 44 students; BS in Pharmacy, 30 students; BS in Environmental Science, 11 students; and BEEd major in Special Education, 12 students.
Other significant developments during the SY 2012-2013 are the following: Three programs, Bachelor of Arts, BS in Business Administration and BS Elementary Education and Bachelor of Secondary Education were granted Level IV accreditation, the first Level IV in Region XII, while BS Nursing and the Grade School Department were granted Level III accreditation.

In the IBED Espina Campus, the construction of the administration building started in June 2012. This was funded by Dato Low Tuck Kwong, a recipient of the degree, Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, from Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in March 2012.