Luce President Cites SU’s Care for Country’s ‘Cultural Future’

Luce President Cites SU’s Care for Country’s ‘Cultural Future’

The president of The Henry Luce Foundation, whose trip to Silliman University was his first to a partner institution of the United Board for Christian Higher Education (UBCHEA) upon election as chair of its Board of Trustees (BOT), expressed gratitude for the care that the University has given to Filipino culture.

Dr. Michael Gilligan reflected on the relationship between Silliman and the Foundation, and how through the Foundation’s donation, the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium, the University has been able to build a reputation as a center of culture in the Philippines.

“On behalf of my late colleague, Henry Luce, and the rest of us at the Foundation, we thank you for the care of the cultural resources, the cultural traditions, and, in fact, the cultural future of the Philippines,” he said.

Dr. Gilligan made the statement in reference to the auditorium, a donation of the Luce Foundation to Silliman. The auditorium was named after Claire Isabel McGill, the wife of Henry R. Luce, the one who founded the Foundation and was co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc. (TIME magazine). Claire Isabel passed away in 1971, three years before the building was completed.

It was at the opening on July 23 of the 2012 United Board Fellows Program of UBCHEA where Dr. Gilligan shared a brief history of the auditorium. The Fellows Program at Silliman marked the 90th anniversary celebration of UBCHEA in the Philippines.

While the auditorium is known as a donation of the Luce Foundation, he gave tribute to the people whom he described sacrificed towards its completion.

“I think that it should be named the 'faculty and staff auditorium'. The Luce Foundation had made a commitment for the building, but when the funds fell short, faculty, staff and students – all sacrificed for the completion of this beautiful hall that remains a center of cultural life in the Philippines,” Dr. Gilligan shared. 

Silliman and the United Board

This affinity of the Foundation to Silliman was the same connection that he established between the University and UBCHEA. The bulk of his message focused on the transformation of the relationship of Silliman and UBCHEA since 1951, with the University as among its first institutional grantees.

“Since those first partnership grants in the 1950s, the relationship between the United Board and Silliman has become mutually beneficial and mutually rewarding. The benefits that we at the United Board and Silliman University have reaped have, in fact, extended way beyond this campus,” he said.

The impact of this partnership, he added, is felt across the region and around the world. He mentioned the strong support of Silliman alumni. Records show that Silliman alumni comprise the largest support group of UBCHEA to a single institution.

Among the tangible results of the partnership are the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, women studies program, agriculture program, and service-learning. The University’s pioneering projects in coastal resource management was specially mentioned as showing potential contributions to an innovative approach to caring for and transforming the environment.

“All of these projects and partnerships flow from our common commitment to excellence, particularly in our understanding of higher education – the education of the whole person, not just for a job, not just for a credential… but for a whole life filled with learning, with engagement, with building communities, and with service,” Dr. Gilligan stressed.

Impressed with Silliman University, he offered an idea that would remind everyone of their experience on campus.

“When we watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London, when we see that flag leading the delegation of the Philippines, we will think about this evening and the time we spent here on the Silliman campus,” he said.  

Silliman treated the UBCHEA officials and fellows with a cultural performance in the Luce Auditorium dubbed Handulantaw. Staged by the College of Performing and Visual Arts, Handulantaw featured different talent groups (Silliman University Goodwill and Gratitude Ambassadors, Kahayag Dance Company, Kwerdas, Women Ensemble, among others) doing a re-run of their cultural tribute to Silliman on its Founders Day last year.

“I share your pride. I’m grateful for your support. And I look forward to a future together,” Dr. Gilligan concluded his message.