Response at Turnover Ceremony

Response at Turnover Ceremony

By: Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann
| President

Betty Cernol-McCann, PhD
Thirteenth President 

(Delivered on June 1, 2018 at the Silliman University Church.) 

It’s a new day to serve the Lord!

Let me take you back to October 1913, twelve years after the founding of Silliman University, Charles Gunn, in his report to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, made an observation:

“One of the missionaries who is no busier than the rest conducts eight recitations daily, superintends the Silliman Printing Press involving the proofreading of a million and a half pages annually, takes his turn at conducting Sunday and chapel services and serves as superintendent at the Sunday School. His spare hours are occupied in writing a new text-book. His work commences at 7:45 in the morning and ends when it is necessary to go to bed at night, and that within ten degrees of the equator. And he likes his job!”*

Such a long, diverse and dedicated service. And he liked his job! But then, if he truly loved Silliman as we all must, how could he not?

As the 13th Silliman University President, I humbly follow a long line of administrators who performed with passion and dedication — who all have contributed to what Silliman is today. Pres. Ben S. Malayang III on top of what he has done in all the past 12 years, has been kind and gracious in making the turnover smooth and without problems or difficulties.

This is the 117th year of the Spirit and Service that define the character of this great university. I call upon us all to continue working together towards the vision “A leading Christian institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment.”

Being with Silliman University is a form of ministry and service. Having the academic institution, the hospital and clinics, the church and its outreach projects are ways of engaging with the age-old tradition of the teaching ministry, healing ministry, and the gospel ministry. It is our sacred task to articulate the educational, medical, and evangelistic work in ways that responsibly respond to the situation or condition that confront us at present.

Silliman University is a reservoir of qualities and virtues required for this institution to function well: Energies, Intelligences, Imagination, and Love. It is up to us now in this moment of consecration to renew them.

We are a bunch of Energies – positive and negative, creative and destructive, innovative and conservative – all types of energies that must be managed for our productive use. Let us channel our energies for positive purposes. Let us not get wasted on negative thoughts and deeds.

We are a collective of Intelligences in all respects – cognitive, emotional, social; right-brained, left-brained; practical intelligence, creative intelligence, analytical intelligence; or the 7 types of intelligence (naturalist-nature smart; musical-sound smart; logical-mathematical or number/reasoning smart; existential or life smart; interpersonal or people smart; bodily-kinesthetic or body smart; and linguistic or word smart). Based on studies of various forms of intelligence, you are smart, no matter what others say. We just need to discover our individual types of intelligence and use them where we can best contribute productively to the Intelligence pool of the entire university.

We all are endowed with Imagination. We have the capacity to form new ideas, or images, or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. It is the part of the mind that imagines things and gives us the ability to be creative or resourceful. As the textbook says, “Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process.” Let us imagine ourselves being able to work together. Let us imagine the impact the Silliman Spirit – that comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ – on our work and service and on our relationship with one another.

And, above all Love. The greatest commandment of all – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Silliman University is one big community encompassing all those who have gone through our portals and those who are here now. We are each other’s neighbor. We are to love each other – heart, mind, and soul.

On this the consecration service, I deem it appropriate to take a Presbyterian oath of old, and make a plea for us all “To serve with energy, intelligence, imagination and love…”

Perhaps none of us today will be required to devote the amount of time that the early missionary gave to making things work here. But all, at one time or another, may be called on to serve as tirelessly as he did. I’m hoping you’ll join me this day in pledging ourselves—heart, mind, and soul—to do our best for our beloved institution, and that, may we, too, “still like our jobs!”

As our song goes, “Still we work for dear old Silliman, her honor bright to shield”!


*Gunn, Charles A. 1913. The Presbyterian Church and the Filipino. Princeton Theological Seminary – Speer Library