So in honor of Founder’s Week, here are ten things I didn't know about Silliman University:
1. Of course, the university is the namesake of Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, but perhaps it should have been named Hibbard University. Yes, Silliman was the principal donor (giving $10,000). But it was fellow American Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard who came to the Philippines to scout locations for a school, chose our location because of the "beauty of Dumaguete and the friendliness of the people," and served as the school's first president.
2. Silliman U is often recognized for academic excellence. Throughout its modern history, the school's Accountancy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing programs were ranked 1st in the Philippines. Silliman University has been ranked the 4th best in the country (following three University of Philippines schools), and one of the top 150 universities in all of Asia.
3. Silliman's tree-lined campus by the sea is a National Historical Landmark and on the list of "50 Most Beautiful College and University Campuses in the World." But the university actually has multiple satellite campuses, including a 29-hectare campus just north along their own Silliman Beach, Camp Lookout in Valencia where they host the Silliman National Writers Workshop, and even a 465-hectare
working ranch and farm on Ticao Island in Masbate Province.
4. Silliman University takes up almost one-third of the total land area of downtown Dumaguete. With nearly 10,000 students from all over the Philippines and 30 countries abroad, Silliman makes up approximately 8% of Dumaguete’s total population.
5. Silliman University was forced to shut down twice during its history. On May 26, 1942, the campus was occupied by Japanese forces, who turned Channon Hall into the headquarters of their dreaded military police, where they tortured and killed many Filipinos. It wasn't until 1945 that American and Filipino forces liberated the country from the Japanese, allowing the university to reopen and classes resume.
But it wasn’t foreign invaders but Martial Law that closed the university in 1972, with the Philippine Constabulary raiding offices and even rounding up and detaining some students.
6. The scenic campus is known for its 300 acacia trees, but there is one near the gymnasium that is most notable. According to the campus guide, the tree is perfectly symmetrical because the Japanese hanged prisoners there during WWII, with the weight of their dangling bodies posthumously shaping the branches.
7. In 2010, Silliman University became the first in the Philippines to offer coed boxing in its physical education program. Taught be world famous coaches, Fred and Hedi Block and Joe Clough, the two-credit P.E.21 was called Introduction to World Boxing.
8. Built in 1978, the Robert B. & Metta J. Silliman Library started with only two small bookcases. Today, it holds over 250,000 books and is considered one of the biggest collections in all of the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
9. Present-day Katipunan Hall was originally the Mission Hospital, which is now home to parts of the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education. But is it haunted? Thanks to accounts of blood dripping from the walls where the operating room used to be and other spooky ghost stories, Psychology students decorate the hall as a Horror Chamber every year during Founder’s Week.
10. Here are some other interesting Silliman firsts:
The first Filipino university president didn’t take office until 1952 when Dr. Leopoldo Ruiz, was voted in.
The first campus radio station opened in 1950. Known by call letters DYSR, this 1000-watt station first broadcast out of Guy Hall for three hours every night.
The first university newspaper was the Silliman Truth, founded in 1903 and now known as the Weekly Sillimanian.
Filipina Pura Blanco became the first female student admitted to Silliman University in 1912.