Silliman University: 118

silliman spirit feature


Greetings to all Sillimanians, guests, friends and visitors to Silliman University. There is a Silliman spirit which cannot be explained but all Sillimanians acknowledge it exists. But it is inexplicable. It can only be felt but it cannot be described. It is too big to be defined. It has no limits and it exists among Sillimanians.

Silliman graduates are all over the world and yet if they have a chance they go back to attend the founders day celebration. Some Sillimanians go back to Silliman every year to attend its founders’ day celebration.

So many lives have been touched by Silliman. So many lives would have been different if not for Silliman. In short, Silliman has influenced the life on earth. So many meet their lifetime partners in Silliman and send their children and grandchildren to study in Silliman. This is one of the immeasurable things which Silliman has contributed.

Silliman University (also referred to as Silliman or SU) is a private research university in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines. Established in 1901 as Silliman Institute by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, it is the first American university in the Philippines and the entire Asian continent. The university is named after Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a retired businessman and philanthropist from Cohoes, New York who gave the initial sum of $10,000 to start the school. Starting as an elementary school for boys, the school expanded to become a college in 1910, acquiring university status in 1938. For the first half of the 20th century, Silliman was run and operated by Americans. After the Second World War Filipinos began to assume more administrative positions, culminating in the appointment of Silliman’s first Filipino president in 1952.[7]

In terms of accreditation, Silliman is one of only five universities in the Philippines with “Institutional Accreditation” by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP). Institutional Accreditation is the highest certification that can be granted to an educational institution after an overall examination of its number of accredited programs, the quality of its facilities, services and faculty. Incidentally, Silliman also has the highest number of accredited programs in the country, twenty of which are on Level IV accreditation status, the highest level that can be granted to individual programs.

Today, the university comprises ten colleges, five schools, and three institutes, enrolling over 9,600 students from the Philippines and from at least 30 foreign countries.[3] It is registered as a National Landmark by the National Historical Institute and is one of few private higher education institutions in the Philippines that have been granted full autonomous status by the Commission on Higher Education. It is also a founding member of the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) and one of the recognized institutions in the U.S. Veterans Administration’s list of approved educational institutions.

Silliman University offers programs in the early childhood, elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels. Programs in the undergraduate and graduate levels cover disciplines such as Arts, Accountancy, Agriculture, Architect u r e , BusinessAdministration, Engineering, English, Filipino, Information Technology, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Education, Economics, Fie Arts, Foreign Languages, Journalism, Marine Sciences, Nutrition, Music, Physics, Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and Public Administration. In addition to its academic undertakings, the university is involved in research and community extension projects. Silliman’s stature in the fields of environmental and marine sciences has led to its being designated by the USAID as a Center of Excellence in Coastal Resources Management.

Silliman University was founded on August 28, 1901 as Silliman Institute by Protestant missionaries under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Originally established as an elementary school for boys, operations for the institute started through an initial $10,000 donation given by a businessman and Christian philanthropist of Cohoes, New York named Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, who wanted to establish an industrial school using the Hampton Institute of Virginia model.

The person tasked by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to establish the school was Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard, a man from Lyndon, Kansas who, after serving as a pastor in a Presbyterian church in that locality, offered his services to the Presbyterian Board as missionary. Upon his arrival in the Philippines, he was commissioned, with his wife Laura, to scout the southern part of the islands to determine the best location for the school. His original points of destination were Cebu, Zamboanga and Iloilo. While in Cebu, a suggestion came to him to make a side-trip to Dumaguete.[25] On his arrival, he was met by a Rev. Captain John Anthony Randolph, chaplain of the 6th U.S. Infantry Regiment stationed at that time in Dumaguete, who later introduced him to Don Meliton Larena, the town’s local presidente and to his brother Demetrio Larena, then the vice-governor of the province. Hibbard got attracted to the place and decided to establish the school in the locality. He would later on write that the “beauty of Dumaguete and the friendliness of the people” helped in bringing about his decision.

The institute had a modest beginning: Dr. and Mrs. Hibbard held classes in a rented house beside the sea until the institute’s first building, Silliman Hall, was completed in 1903. Recalling how the University started half a century later, Dr. Hibbard described:

“There were fifteen boys that first morning. The equipment consisted of four desks about ten feet long, two tables and two chairs, a few McGuffey’s Readers, a few geographies, arithmetics and ninth-grade grammars. I was President; Mrs. Hibbard was the faculty.”

When Martial Law was declared in 1972, Silliman became one of the first two universities ordered by the government to be closed and one of the last to be opened. On the morning of September 23, 1972 some faculty members and many students were rounded up by the local Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police), some of whom were detained for one to six months. Many offices of the university, including the Weekly Sillimanian, the student paper, were raided by the PC.

The year 1979 became a landmark year for Silliman when its Van Houweling Research Laboratory, then headed by Dr. George Beran,[36]produced a dog vaccine that gave a threeyear immunity from rabies, making it the first and only laboratory to produce a rabies vaccine with long-term immunity in the whole of Southeast Asia.[37] The development of the vaccine resulted in the elimination of rabies in many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao Islands and was later on used by other countries in their fight against rabies conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

In a 2007 report released by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Silliman University was ranked 4th in the country, following three schools of the University of the Philippines (UP) namely, UP-Diliman, UP-Los Baños, and UP-Manila, which ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. The survey was based on average passing rates in Board examinations from 1991 to 2001 in all courses of all universities and colleges in the Philippines. The study is conducted every ten years.

In other board or licensure examination-related reports released by the CHED in the year 2009, Silliman was ranked 1st in the country in the field of Nursing Education[ and 2nd in the fields of Accountancy[ and Mechanical Engineering.

Internationally, Silliman is ranked among the top 150 universities in Asia based on International Students’ Review by the QS Quacquarelli Symonds, an institution that ranks the world’s top universities.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) designated Silliman as a Center of Excellence in Information Technology, Marine Science, Nursing Education and Teacher Education, and a Center of Development in Anthropology, Biology, Medical Technology and Accountancy Education. Aside from these, the University was also named by the United States Agency for International Development as a Center of Excellence in Coastal Resource Management, and by the Haribon Foundation as an Academic Center of Excellence in Biodiversity Conservation. Due to the University’s community-based coastal resource management program, Apo Island, a small island off the coast of Dauin, was recognized as one of the best diving spots in the world.

“Via, Veritas, Vita” is a Latin phrase which means “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.” Chosen by the University as its motto, this phrase is attributed to Jesus Christ and is found in the Gospel of John chapter 14, verse 6, which reads Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (New International Version) The choice of the motto is firmly rooted in the University’s belief that religious instruction, particularly in the teachings of Jesus Christ, is essential to the moral development of every young person. Incidentally, the motto has been adopted by the Province of Negros Oriental by incorporating it in its provincial seal.

Founders Week is part of a two-week-long event conducted by the Silliman community to commemorate the founding of the university. This event is held in the last week of August. The celebration is characterized by class reunions, alumni, fraternity and organizational gatherings, concerts, exhibits, booth-building, awarding ceremonies (e.g. the Outstanding Sillimanian Awards), and invitational games with other schools. The week-long celebration is traditionally commenced by an early morning worship service called Sunrise Service at the Silliman University Church and culminated with a citywide parade held on the anniversary of the university’s founding, August 28. The parade is referred to as the “Parada Sillimaniana” and August 28 is referred to as the “Founders Day” in honor of the pioneers. For the past few years, however, the University moved the parades to August 27. Traditionally, the parade is characterized by the use of floats, with each representing a particular college, department, or school.

Before the end of an important event or ceremony the Silliman Song is sung by the attendees. The lyrics were written in 1918 by Dr. Paul Doltz, then the vice-president of Silliman Institute and pastor of Silliman Church. The tune of the song is an adaptation or modification of “The Orange and the Black” of Princeton University, Dr. Doltz’s alma mater. The melody is based on the original song “Sadie Ray” composed by J. Tannenbaum late in the 19th century. The Silliman Song briefly describes Silliman’s tranquil location; the student’s college or university experience; the student’s victories, whether it be in the classroom, the court, the track, or the field; the highs and lows in life; and the principles that the graduate brings as the latter leaves the halls of the university. Sang by the Silliman community for almost a hundred years, the Silliman Song has popularized the phrases “Dear old Silliman” and “Silliman beside the sea”.