The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the United States of America (USA) responded to the request of the Most Reverend Bishop Constance Jurgens of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia (now known as Archdiocese of Tuguegarao) Tuguegarao, Cagayan to meet the spiritual and educational needs of the people of Cagayan Valley particularly in the Province of Isabela. The missionaries arrived in Manila, Philippines on December 12, 1948, and finally reached Santiago, Isabela on the 22nd day of December of the same year. The Missionaries started opening schools upon their arrival and the La Salette of Santiago, Inc. was established in June 1951, which started with its High School Department. A year later, realizing the dire need for a higher institution of learning and aware of the financial constraints of which prevented or made it almost impossible for the poor students in the province to obtain college education in Manila, the college department was opened with two course offerings: Certificate in Secretarial Science and Associate in Arts.
In March 1953, the school held its first graduation in Secretarial Course. A one-year course in Mechanics was offered in SY 1953-1954 and had six students as their first graduates. Two years later the Maryknoll Sisters were invited to take over the administration of the High School and College Departments. In that same year, three courses were offered: Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science in Home Economics Education and Associate in Commercial Science. In the late fifties, however, due to lack of qualified instructors, the Bachelor of Science in Education course was temporarily suspended but was re-opened in SY 1963-1964, and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education was also offered that same year. Four years later, Liberal Arts was opened in 1968. The school year 1968-69 also marked the membership of La Salette of Santiago, Inc. in the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP).
In 1970, in order to cope with the unprecedented increase in college enrolment, the Administration moved the college department from the high school campus to its present site. The College Department was given the permit to offer a Four-Year Course in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
In 1972, with barely two years of existence, the Ministry of Education Culture and Sports (MECS) granted government recognition of the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 1974, the last year of management of the Maryknoll Sisters at La Salette of Santiago, Inc., the college was granted the long-awaited accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) for its three programs: Liberal Arts, Education, and Commerce, making La Salette of Santiago, Inc. the first PAASCU accredited school in the Province of Isabela; second in Cagayan Valley and 19th in the entire Philippines. Thus, La Salette of Santiago, Inc. joined the country with a tradition for academic excellence.
Towards the end of 1974, the Religious of the Assumption took over the administration of La Salette College and the High School. They continued the great work of the Maryknoll Sisters whose service to La Salette was marked by significant innovations in academic and administrative levels. That same year, the La Salette Pananagutan Center was born in response to the challenge of Christian service particularly the poor in the locality. It has become the Social Responsibility Center of the school. During the term of the Religious of the Assumption, the college worked for and passed the second PAASCU re-accreditation. In the following years, many changes and improvements were realized. The Business Office was re-organized and proper accounting system was installed; administrative functions were defined and systematized; the library was transferred to a wider and better site; more buildings were constructed for needed facilities; Faculty and Staff Development Program was strengthened and worthwhile researches and outreach activities were undertaken. Later on, the college assumed operation of the canteen and bookstore.
When the Religious of the Assumption left in 1977 for other new missions, they left an indelible mark in the heart of the La Salette academic community which they served so well. In June 1978, to prepare its students for the growing needs of the business and industry and for the scientific and technological development in the province and the region, the Secondary Science Curriculum was introduced in the High School Department.
In 1979, there was again another change in the administration. The Daughters of Charity were invited to help in the school management of La Salette of Santiago, Incorporated. Their administration lasted for fourteen (14) fruitful years.
In December 1982, the College Department was re-visited by PAASCU for its third re-accreditation and was successfully granted re-accreditation for another five years. During that span of five years, Computer Education was introduced in partnership with Computer Exponents, Inc., and two years later the school assumed full responsibility over the program after MECS approved the integration of Computer Education in all courses of the college. The Child Learning Center (now known as University of La Salette Grade School Department) was opened in 1983 to serve as a training center for the Bachelor in Elementary Education (BEE) student interns. Two years later, DECS granted government recognition of the Pre-school and Basic Elementary Education.
Cognizant of the professional needs of the teachers in the La Salette School System as well as in other schools in the region, the Graduate School opened in 1984 with Master of Arts in Development Education. In the same school year, a five-year Civil Engineering course was also offered in the undergraduate level.
The High School Department, likewise, continued to update and upgrade its standard. It embarked on the rigorous process of self-assessment which resulted in the first formal survey of Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) in 1984. The High School was granted its initial accreditation for a period of three years on March 22, 1985, making it the First Accredited High School in Region 02. That same year, on June 17, 1985, the degree on Master of Arts in Development Education was granted government recognition.
However, a major tragedy which affected the whole institution struck on March 25, 1986. A fire of undetermined origin razed to the ground the main building of the High School Department. The fire destroyed nineteen (19) classrooms, five (5) administrative offices, a large faculty room, and a storeroom where audio-visual equipment, textbooks, industrial arts tools and machines and other school supplies, were kept. However, believing in maintaining and supporting the high standard of instruction which the school has committed to continue, the local community, through the leadership of the Home-School Association and Alumni Association worked extensively with the school administration in building new classrooms.
February 13, 1987, marked the promotion of La Salette College from Level II to Level III Accredited status by both PAASCU and FAAP, an honor that made La Salette College the first Level III accredited school in Region 02. The four-year Bachelor of Science in Secretarial Administration was also granted government recognition on July 27, 1987. In SY 1986-87, Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE) appointed the College President, Rev. Fr. Romeo B. Gonzales, MS to manage FAPE-funded government projects such as the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP), the Educational Service Contracting (ESC) and the Tuition Fee Supplement for all private High Schools in the region.
Despite limited funds, the administrators started the construction of the multi-purpose building named Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Building which housed the following: Chapel, Library, Audio-Visual Room, Offices of the Deans of Education, Liberal Arts, and Engineering, the Central Supply Room, Demonstration Room, the Model Clinic for the Nursing and Midwifery departments, the Drafting Room, the Hydraulic and Physics Laboratories, the Lawrence Conference Hall, a Dormitory and classrooms. At that time, the extension of the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Building housed more classrooms for the growing population, the Graduate School Library, the Physical Therapy Laboratories, and the centralized Laboratories in Biology, Chemistry, and Zoology. The college also acquired an additional lot of two hectares to anticipate future expansion programs as indicated in the five-year plan.
In school year 1987-1988, there was a need for the creation of the position of a Vice-President to assist the President in the administration. To manifest its commitment to sustain quality Christian education, the College Department renewed its accreditation status as Level III by PAASCU and FAAP in 1989. In the same year, the College opened the Criminology Course to respond to the development needs of the region in terms of peace and order which was a very crucial component of rural development. The following year, the degree of Master in Business Management was added to the Graduate School Program.
Similarly, to meet the demand for adequate health services and technology in the local community and in the region, the Midwifery course was offered in 1992, followed by the Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1993, Bachelor of Science in Geodetic Engineering, Master in Public Administration and Doctor of Philosophy (Educational Management) in 1994. The school year 1993-1994 marked the second PAASCU re-accreditation of the High School Department for a period of five years thereby raising its accreditation level to Level II.
In July 1994, the College President filed the application for the conversion of the college into a University. The College in its desire to be of greater service to other schools in the region developed and opened its physical facilities for provincial and regional conferences/seminar-workshops of schools and government agencies. This year was also the height of the strong leadership and involvement of the college in various educational activities in the region.
In school year 1995-1996, curricular expansion was made with the opening of the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BSPT), the Bachelor of Science in Computer Information System (BSCIS), Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and the integration of computer in all courses. Adjacent 1.5-hectare lot was purchased for expansion.
Constant follow-up was made by the administration with regards to its application for university status. During the first semester of school year 1996-1997, a team from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Office was sent to assess the capability and qualification of the college to become a University. Sometime in February 1997, a team from the CHED National Office was organized and sent to La Salette College to make follow-up assessment and to make recommendations to the Commissioners on the status of La Salette College to become a University. The Honorable Commissioner Mona D. Valisno, Managing Commissioner and Oversight Commissioner for Luzon was invited by La Salette College as the Commencement Speaker in March 1997. This provided the time and venue for the Commissioner to see for herself the curricular programs, the extension services and the research services of La Salette College.
In school year 1997-1998, two big computer laboratories with Local Area Network (LAN) were provided to keep up with the development of Information Technology. Expansion of the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal building was constructed to provide more classrooms for the growing population.
Series of visits of the three CHED Commissioners were made in November 1997. It was hoped that the University Charter will be awarded in January 1998 during the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Presence of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in the Philippines (1948-1998). However, the administration was required to comply with three recommendations: the improvement of the facade, the Internet connection and the development and production of more research studies. The administration exerted efforts to respond to these demands. Before the start of school year 1997-1998, the administration signed the Memorandum of Agreement with Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPENet) for internet connection and services.
In February 1998, the College of Nursing and College of Engineering went through a preliminary survey for accreditation by PAASCU.
The long-awaited dream of becoming a UNIVERSITY was realized on June 25, 1998. Formal inauguration and awarding of the University Charter was held. Fr. Romeo B. Gonzales, MS, Ph.D., who served the college since 1979 until 2010, was installed as the first University President.
The challenge of being a University continues to inspire the administration to update and expand the curricular programs. It has established several Graduate School extension classes in the Provinces of Cagayan and Isabela through its Center for Alternative Learning in order to respond to the call for borderless education and community service. The University of La Salette was one of the universities in Region 02 deputized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Manila to implement the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP). The Memorandum of Agreement was signed by the University President and Commissioner Mona D. Valisno on May 19, 1999.
The College of Physical Therapy and the College of Information Technology were created in the first semester academic year 1999-2000. In the same academic year, the College of Engineering and the College of Information Technology were granted Centers of Development (COD) status by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
In December 18, 1999, the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the University Hospital was held in preparation for the requirements to open the College of Medicine.
In academic year 2000-2001, the College of Law, and the College of Agriculture and Vocational Technology were opened, The College of Physical Therapy was renamed College of Allied Medical Programs and expanded to offer health-related courses, namely, BS Pharmacy, BS Medical Technology, BS Radiological Technology, Doctor of Dental Medicine and Doctor of Optometry. At that time, the University of La Salette had a population of about eight thousand.
To this very day, the University of La Salette stands with pride in serving the youth of Santiago City, Province of Isabela and the entire Cagayan Valley. In pursuit of academic excellence, Christian formation, leadership and service, University of La Salette continues to offer a well-rounded education that provides an opportunity for self-realization and actualization. Each one is called to continue to live by heart the message of Our Lady of La Salette for conversion, prayer, and zeal and to make her message known to all people.