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College of Education: A 100-year-old Institution

By Diamay Klem Balacuit | Feature Writer

Vol. XCI No. 5

Aug. 28, 2019

“Any teacher must be able to manifest…the fruit of the Spirit and by manifesting those, then you can be freely be good examples of being an educator not just in the classroom – but also in the community,” from the words of Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann, Silliman  University (SU) President during the Pakiglambigit Night of the College of Education’s Alumni Homecoming in celebrating its centennial year on the evening of Aug. 26 at SU Gymnasium.

It was in the year 1919 when the seeds of the college were planted – to become the source of producing the fruit of excellence in service today.

The seed’s journey as it grows

The College of Education (COE) started only from a small department of Silliman Institute. In 1920, they offered the High School Teacher’s Certificate (HTC) and the Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in their curriculum. In 1924, the institute granted its first BSE degrees to six of its graduates. Since then, the importance of responding to the need of teachers to the Public School System of the country was emphasized.

As the seeds germinated through the clamor of the alumni, faculty, and staff, what was once a department was reorganized into a college, offering both undergraduate and graduate divisions, with the elementary and high school designated as laboratory schools. This was established by the Board of Trustees in the year 1935. In the same year when the first Dean of the College (as well as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Clyde Heflin was appointed.

When the institute became a university in 1938, the COE was one of the pioneering academic units, and programs on General Normal and Home Economics were also granted. As 1941 came in, the first Filipino Dean, Dr. Pedro E.Y. Rio was appointed.

In 1950, a two-story Education Building was erected near the twin Science Building extension and was completed in the summer of 1951. The building was named Heflin Hall in 1954 in honor of the first Dean of the College.

When the seed flourished, it caught up in an early withering. This happened in 1951 when an oversupply of teachers nationwide affected its enrollment. COE reverted to the status of a division under the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) during the school year 1956-1957.

But this early withering was healed back when the demand for public school teachers in succeeding years resulted in the increase of enrollment on November 10, 1962, elevating it back the status of the college. It was on December 3, 1963, when it was officially restored, and Dr. Lino Q. Arquiza became the Dean (1963-1966) during its restoration period.

The reputation established by SU benefited COE during the 1960s. Opportunities were given to them such as the “Third Country Training Program” supported by the US-AID Scholarships in 1963, implementation of a project in health education by the World Health Organization, and accreditation for teacher-training by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1967. COE was also selected to become the location of a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-sponsored Applied Nutrition Training Center in 1969.

Though the seed successfully grew to become a plant, its leaves faced withering. In 1968, it experienced a downturn in its enrollment. The Heflin Hall underwent a lot of alterations to become offices and workspaces of CAS, Dean of Instruction, Registrar, and the Division of Student Personnel. Due to dwindling enrollment, it paved the way to the construction of the office of Graduate School Dean, a lecture hall, and classrooms on the 2nd Floor. The Oriental Hall also became the home forth Office of the Dean of COE and professional education classes when it was transferred in 1970. This was also the time when the college was accredited by the Philippine Association of Accredited Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU). The doctoral degrees in Education (Ed.D and Ph.D.) were then offered by COE in the academic year 1976-1977.

As the opening of the Silliman University Medical Center and refurbishing of the Old Mission Hospital now named as Katipunan Hall took place, COE was transferred to the 2nd floor of the building’s south wing at the start of the school year 1980-1981. This was the home of COE until 2009, under the administration of Dr. Ben S. Malayang III and inspired by a historical sense, the COE administrative offices including the office of the faculty and college library were transferred to the 2nd floor of the Heflin Hall on September 2009.

The withering leaves of the plant were healed once again when the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) awarded COE as the Center of Excellence in Teacher Education in 1996. The said distinction continues to be upheld until the present. That school year also began the vertical articulation of the Graduate School which was returned to the administration of the Education Graduate Programs back to COE. In 2001, a new organizational structure was adopted by SU which led to the creation of the School of Basic Education which separated its administration from the college. In this structure, the Early Childhood School, Elementary School, and High School became one entity headed by a director. However, at the beginning of June 2011, the Dean of the COE was appointed as the supervising dean of the School of Basic Education.

As COE continued to offer service to the community through innovative programs, it led them to offer the Bachelor in Special Education Program up to the present. Aside from that, in 2009, the Center of Excellence for Learning, Teaching, and Assessment (CELTA) was also established to improve the advocacies of COE and further equipping the student-teachers and faculty of various Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) in Negros and Siquijor that are part of the network of TEIs of COE as a CHED Center of Excellence for Teacher Education. In addition, an organization of student-teachers was created in 1997 called Student Teachers of Negros and Siquijor (STONES).

Up to the present, COE offers undergraduate and graduate programs that endeavor to mold the best quality teachers, researchers, dieticians, nutritionists, and administrators who are fully prepared to handle the teaching-learning process that will help mold the younger generation to be the hope of the future.

Amidst withering, the seed is now a full-grown plant

The seed that was planted 100 years ago is now a full-grown plant. The college that was once a small department is now a long-standing institution that caters to the needs of molding individuals to become educators for the future.

As COE reaps its fruits of untiring labor of being a full-grown plant, a series of activities were organized to celebrate its centennial years of doing its job having its theme,  “Bearing the Fruits of the Spirit Through a Century of Christ-centered Transformative  Education.”

Last Aug. 22-23, the students of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department showcased their skills by opening their Food Street to the public. This annual event became more festive in celebrating the centennial year of COE. Their Mr.and Miss Education also competed in the Mr. Hibalag last Aug. 22 and 73rd Miss Silliman last Aug. 24, respectively.

In the morning of Aug. 24, SUCOE-CELTA organized a seminar on “Understanding Autism and ADHD on How to Manage Challenging Behaviors” while Department of Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis – Briones conducted a lecture on “Public Policy in Education” in the afternoon. Outstanding Sillimanian Awardees namely Dr. Leonilo B. Oliva (2019) and Dr. Aurelio P. Ramos, Jr. (2013) also conducted Balik – Talent lectures in the morning of Aug. 26.

“Pasundayag,” a variety show, the highlight of these activities, was held last Aug. 25 at the Luce Auditorium. The event showcased different talents of the educators and the staff coming from the three departments of COE namely Teacher Education, Physical Education, and Nutrition and Dietetics, and School of Basic Education. Sillimanian educators coming from the Divisions of Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental also presented their talents to the public.

In the evening of Aug. 26, a grand alumni homecoming, “Pakiglambigit Night: SUCOE @ 100,” was held for the alumni of COE. This festive homecoming was attended by different
batches of Sillimanian educators who are successful in their teaching vocation.  Launching of the College’s Coffee Table Book entitled “Balik-Lantaw” was presented, showing 100 different stories and reflections of SU College of Education Alumni. The launching was indeed a college’s dream that came true as said by Associate Dean Prof. Gina F. Bonior.

The celebration of the college’s centennial year does not end only with these festivities. Instead, it is a year-long celebration. In an interview with the College Dean Dr. Batchiba Lacdo-o, some activities will be conducted the whole year round such as a series of  lectures these months of October, November, and December, and storytelling activities that will be sponsored by the COE Alumni, and environmental activities.

Firming the now full-grown plant

The continuing effort behind the success of achieving COE’s academic excellence in catering the society’s needs resulted in reaping its fruits. Recently, COE’s Nutrition and Dietetics Department produced two topnotchers: Joshua Tingson Ferido (Top 6) and Christian Denzel Tadena Sagun (Top 10) in the August 2019 Nutritionist-Dietitian Licensure Examination, making the university as one of the top-performing schools in this field.

“The College of Education has [already] stood up the test of time and [it] is because there were people who have walked this and have made what the college is to be… I am so grateful to them that we are reaping its fruits,” said Dr. Lacdo-o as she reminisced the history of COE.

What was once a planted seed continues to holistically develop each individual —  through producing educators ready to take on the challenge of making a difference, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, and by cherishing and looking back to its roots.


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