Tuesday, January 08, 2008

UP firsts: Centennial trivia

Now that we are celebrating the University of the Philippines centennial, did you know that

Graduate degrees

UP awarded its first MA degree to a woman? Her name is Josefa Desiderio who got her MA in 1917, the year UP's grad school first produced its graduates.

The next year saw UP award its first MSc degrees to two men, Amando Clemente and Jose Mirasol.

The university also awarded its first research doctorates in 1918 in tropical medicine and public health. Before that time the university awarded professional doctorates in medicine and dentistry and of course honorary doctorates.


As early as 1922 the UP had a problem with professors salaries. Professors' salaries were way below that of other professions. (What else is new?) Profs left to teach at private universities or go overseas. (What else has changed?!)


Even as early as 1919, UP wanted (and sorely needed) bigger state subsidies. UP got 1.12 million dollars from the Philippine Insular government. Compare that to state Us in America. Michigan got 13.79, Minnesota 8.946, Iowa 9.22 and Ohio 6.994. The president of UP was then an American, Dr Guy Potter Benton and he was already concerned about decreasing state support.

There was even talk of UP being privatized! Some politicians believed that the university was a waste of money! (Nothing has changed!)

The politician who took issue about the budget and opposed these moves was no other than Senate President Manuel L Quezon. Quezon later would be elected as first President of the Philippine Commonwealth.

Academic costume brouhaha!

Benton appointed a committee to design the university academic costume. The university regents approved a gown in white as an"adaptation" to the tropical climate. The students found it silly and in 1922 the UP decided to adopt the usual black gown.

I wonder if the "sablay" committee read the minutes of the board of regents about this acrimonious debate in 1920-1921.

Source: Jamias C. (1963) The University of the Philippines First Half Century. The Diliman Review, UP Diliman, Quezon City.

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