Urdaneta City University (UCU) started as a rewarding concept of Dr. Pedro T. Orata, world renowned educator and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, to establish a community college. It started maximizing available resources to provide education to knowledge-hungry youth and young adults, believing on the principle of education for all. Indeed, its humble beginning contrasts with its current status as a fast growing and pioneer local university in the province of Pangasinan.
As the first community college in the Philippines, UCU, formerly known as the City Colleges of Urdaneta (CCU) and Urdaneta Community College (UCC), is a concrete and genuine proof of Dr. Orata's solid expression of his great love, faith, and concern for the poor but capable and deserving Filipino youth who cannot afford collegiate schooling in the cities. Believing that the rural people are entitled to equal opportunities and access to higher education with those in the cities, he founded Urdaneta Community College in 1966 with the support of Mayor Amadeo R. Perez Jr. and the Sangguniang Bayan using the proceeds of the 1966 town fiesta celebration. Noteworthy was the contribution of Dr. Leoncio Ancheta, first dean of UCC who assisted Dr. Orata in laying the groundwork for the College's formal operations. Patterned after the community colleges in the United States of America, the College started with an enrolment of one hundred forty-four (144) students who came from the rural areas. Apparently, most of the first students earned their way through college by driving tricycles before and after classes, working in the farms, and serving as part-time maids and salesladies.
The College commenced its operation with the provisional permit to open a two-year General Education course granted by the Secretary of Education on February 4, 1966. The Secretary further approved the program for Non-formal Education; hence, short-term courses in agriculture and retail business for adults were also offered to assist students in enhancing their earning capabilities.
After two years, the first batch of General Education, 84 members, graduated. This paved the way to the opening of a four-year Education program which was granted in 1968. Adhering to the philosophy of keeping pace with the changing needs in the academe, UCC offered courses in Midwifery (1973), Nursing (1975), Computer Education (1990), Graduate School (1995), Commerce and Accountancy (1996), and Caregiver Training Program (2002).
Undoubtedly, the College is a unique institution. While it is a higher learning institution of the Urdaneta City, it remains self-sufficient to a steady growth. During its infancy, the facilities of the Urdaneta Community High School now known as Urdaneta City National High School (UCNHS) were utilized for its operation. This was based on Dr. Orata's principle of resource maximization and not to wait and stay idle while the government is contemplating the provision of basic services. Otherwise, school children and public high school students in very remote places all over the country might be waiting until doomsday for a chance to go to school or to continue their schooling.
As the College grew and gained wide acceptance not only among the people of Urdaneta but even in neighboring towns, provinces, and cities, it survived supremely well so that it was able to acquire and build its own facilities.
UCC proved its worth despite its limited resources. Many times, the College managed to be one of the top performing higher learning institutions in the field of education, nursing and midwifery. With this, it continues to attract students as far as Abra, Aurora, Isabela, Ilocos, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Quezon, Mt. Province, Pampanga, and other neighboring provinces.
When Urdaneta became a city on March 21, 1998, UCC likewise recognized the need to adopt a new name. Consequently, in 2001, Mayor Amadeo R. Perez, Jr. broadened the school's educational services and changed its name to City College of Urdaneta by virtue of Sangguniang Panglunsod Resolution No. 61 which took effect in November 2001. In 2005, the name was further amended as the City Colleges of Urdaneta. On January 13, 2004, the institution became the first Character School in Region I, inculcating in its students the need, not just for academic excellence, but more importantly, for character transformation.
To further reflect its commitment to quality higher education, CCU was declared as Urdaneta City University by virtue of BOR Resolution No. 139, s. 2006 and was confirmed as such by the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Urdaneta on May 8, 2006 by virtue of Sangguniang Panglunsod Resolution No. 234-06-A and City Ordinance No. 98 s. 2006 on September 4, 2006.
This change of status as an academic institution ushered in an era of unprecedented growth for the institution in terms of programs offered, facilities built, local and international linkages established, strengthened research capabilities, and student enrolment. During this time, courses in Engineering and Architecture, Criminology, Mass Communication, Social Work, Pharmacy, Library and Information Science, Psychology, Tourism, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Political Science, post-graduate and additional graduate degrees, were included in the roster of its academic programs. The College of Law was likewise established offering the degree Juris Doctor. In a revisit of Dr. Orata’s philosophy, UCU added a technical-vocational unit for vocational courses.
With more than five decades of service, UCU now boasts of a steady enrolment. Previous years had seen this dip to more than 9,000, especially during the full implementation of the K to 12 program. Now, despite the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the enrollment remains robust with more than 11,000 students.
From the borrowed classrooms, the university has now expanded to 28 buildings. A newly-refurbished library, student centers, an audio-visual room, a multi-media library, an auditorium, a gymnasium, fitness centers, a wellness center, and renovated rooms are just some of the features that UCU could now lay claim to. Simulation rooms, mock hotels, and specialized laboratories for various courses provide meaningful activities that equip students with the requisite skills in their profession.
Linkages with local and international partners have likewise enriched the university with manpower, programs and facilities such as the four-storey building from Resorts World Philippines that augment its existing resources.
Located in San Vicente West, Urdaneta City, UCU originally occupied 1.5 hectares but later expanded to three hectares of land which continues to develop with newly-built and refurbished academic buildings catering to varied curricular programs. As a local university, it continues to serve significantly as a potent source for the labor market.
From the time of its birth up to the present, the university continues to serve as a reservoir and source of manpower needs for the city, nearby towns, and neighboring provinces, and has now expanded its sights to global perspectives.