The first President of the University was Dr. Dedicacion Reyes who assumed the position in May 1972. She was succeeded by the late Dr. Romualdo Tadena in 1978. Dr. Dorotea Campos-Filart was the third President who held the reins from 1985 to 1998. On July 1, 1998, she was succeeded by Dr. Lauro B. Tacbas, the fourth President, and Dr. Gilbert R. Arce the fifth and incumbent President assumed on August 22, 2011.

The University has a main campus located in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur and three satellite campuses to it: UNP Sinait (Upland Research and Development Center), Quimmarayan, Sto. Domingo (Environmental Research and Training Center) and Nalvo, Sta. Maria (Marine Research and Development Center.

The main campus has seventeen colleges, namely:
(1) Graduate School,
(2) College of Law,
(3) College of Architecture,
(4) College of Engineering,
(5) College of Arts and Sciences,
(6) College of Business Administration and Accountancy,
(7) College of Communication and Information Technology,
(8) College of Criminal Justice Education
(9) College of Social Work
(10) College of Fine Arts,
(11) College of Health Sciences,
(12) College of Nursing,
(13) College of Teacher Education,
(14) College of Technology,
(15) College of Hospitality and Tourism Management,
(16)College of Medicine, and
(17) College of Technology,