The Center for Research and Engagement (CRE) traces its roots to two important institutions in the University, namely: the Institute for Social Research and Development (ISRAD) which was organized in 1980 to focus on social research, and the Integrated Research and Development Center which was established in 1987 to specialize in the areas of business research and development projects. By January of 1996, these two organizations were merged and named as the University Research Center (URC) with the primary mandate of involving more faculty and administrators in research activities, in addition to its existing initiatives in pursuit of social and business researches and development projects.

In 2018, the URC was re-structured in order to strengthen the interface of the three trifocal functions of the University; namely, instruction, research and extension (engagement). This re-structuring efforts of the administration led to the creation of a new research center known as the Center for Research and Engagement (CRE).

The CRE continues to be the research arm of the university whose main purpose is to administer and supervise all institutional research requests, internally-funded researches under the Faculty and Administrators Research Program, and university-based externally-funded research projects as well as other research-related activities. It also provides research technical assistance to both internal and external clients. It envisions extending a full range of academic, applied and development-based research projects which traverse the fields of academic excellence and community engagement as well as promote the quality of life of the Negrense community.

Under the CRE are the Publication and Engagement Office (PEO), the Social Research Ethics Review Office (SRERO) and the Intellectual Property Rights Committee (IPRC). The PEO facilitates the timely publication of research outputs and dissemination of research recommendations to all stakeholders and links the university with private and public institutions and agencies for possible fund sourcing through research collaboration. To ensure ethical soundness, the SRERO ascertains that all researches are compliant with ethical principles and standards of the university.  On the other hand, IPRC looks into issues and concerns pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights in order to protect the IP creators of the University.

The CRE is a member of organizations such as the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC) and the Federation of Institutions for Marine and Freshwater Sciences, which are committed to the promotion of mutual cooperation among researchers. It also represents the university in DOST-based consortia in the region such as the Western Visayas Consortium for Industry and Energy Research and Development (WVCIERD) and Western Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium (WVHRDC). It has also forged partnership agreements and working relationships with esteemed institutions of international and national stature like World Vision, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH(GIZ), Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA), PROFOREST Limited, INFIC, Inc., the Facultés Universitaires Notre Dame de la Paix (FUNDP), Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU), Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic, the University of Groningen of the Netherlands, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology of Australia, the Danish International Development Agency, the Environmental Education Network of the Philippines, and the Women’s Studies Association of the Philippines (WSAP).