Dumaguete’s Famous University: Silliman

Located in the Negros Oriental province of the Philippines, Dumaguete is home to several universities and colleges in the southern part of the country, earning the city the title “university town.” Dumaguete is also the largest city in the province.

The city draws tourists and students alike. No wonder one of the top attractions in the city is an educational institution, the Protestant-founded Silliman University.

The university was established in August 1901 by American missionaries belonging to the Presbyterian Church, led by Dr. Horace B. Silliman, from whom the university got its name. It was Dr. Silliman who funded the building of the institution.

Other universities in the area include the Foundation University, Negros Oriental State University and St. Paul Dumaguete, one of the many schools run by the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in the Philippines.

Known as the Silliman Institute until 1938, Silliman University has the distinction of being the first Protestant school in this predominantly Catholic country, and the oldest American university in Asia.

Silliman is famed not only for its history, but for its academic excellence as well. It offers a wide range of courses, from engineering to law to nursing. It also has education in music, fine arts and business administration courses, among others. There is a Graduate School as well.

The school prides itself on its science courses, particularly on marine biology and agriculture. The university is supported by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and is recognized as one of the Centers of Excellence by the country’s Commission on Higher Education.

Former Philippine president Carlos P. Garcia, who led the country from 1957 to 1961, was an alumnus of the university. Garcia was a lawyer and teacher before entering politics in 1926 as a congressman. He also became a governor, a senator and vice-president before his presidency.

Silliman University is also one of the biggest universities in the Philippines, currently resting on a 610,000 square meter land area—a far cry from its humble beginnings. It started out as an elementary school with less than twenty students and basic school facilities. At present, each college has its own building. The campus also has sporting facilities like an Olympic-size swimming pool, football field, archery range and tennis court. It also boasts of a three-storey library that was built in 1978, which is considered as one of the biggest libraries in the country.

A solid testament of the university’s status as one of the main tourist attractions of Dumaguete City is its power to draw large crowds in its annual Founder’s Day celebration every August 28. Dumaguete locals and even outsiders take part in the week-long celebrations in the campus grounds.

Truly, it is simply hard to think of Dumaguete City without having Silliman university in mind as well.

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