Central Philippine University


The Men at the Helm

University Presidents


Rev. Dr. William Orison Brown Valentine persevered in finishing his high school education and partly his seminary studies, in order to reach his goal to serve God. In 1896, he worked as principal of the Baptist Mission High School in Mandalay, Burma. In 1902, he suffered from sunstroke that brought him back to the U.S. There he met his former colleague, Mrs. Charles Briggs who told him about mission work in the Philippines. A year after, he married Ina Jane Miller Van Allen (whom he had a three children with Barbara Lucille, Elizabeth Adell, and William Orison, Jr.). The couple then embarked for the Philippines three days after their wedding.

They landed in Jaro, Iloilo City, where Rev. Dr. Valentine established the Jaro Industrial School in October 1, 1905. He became the first principal from 1907-1915. All students of the school worked half of the day and studied the other half. The school was the first institution in the country to teach that there is dignity in labor. Until his death (he was inflicted with malaria) on February 2, 1928, Dr. William Valentine continued to be pious and dedicated to mission work. He was a victor for he achieved his goal in educating the Filipino youth.

DR. FRANCIS HOWARD ROSE (1914-1916; 1931-1932; 1938-1941)

Dr. Francis Howard Rose was considered to be more versatile than most men. He was skillful in tools of arts, the sciences, architectural drawings, poems, school songs, carpentry, advertising matters, editorial work, bookkeeping, contacts with the student alumni. Aside from teaching six various subjects all at the same time, he went to Negros to beg for funds preached on Sundays, did publicity work, supervised the electric plant and shop, wrote poetry and set it to music, drew plans of buildings, and even delivered commencement speeches as far as Mindanao.


Rev. Henry Weston Munger was the acting president of the Jaro Industrial School after Miss Mary J. Thomas went on furlough. Rev. Munger had a practical disposition but a broad outlook and high idealism. He was humble and gentle yet courageous in crusading for Christ.

MS. MARY JANE THOMAS (1917 – 1918)

Ms. Mary Jane Thomas was a faculty member of the Department of Arts and Trades and Bible School Department from 1913-1918. In 1915-1917, Ms. Thomas was the Secretary of the Jaro Industrial School. She became the Acting President of the school from 1917-1918.

DR. ALTON EZRA BIGELOW (1876-1935; 1918-1922)

Dr. Alton Bigelow was interested with preaching, teaching, printing, and translating the Scriptures. Dr. Bigelow could speak five languages. In Iloilo, he produced a 555-page Visayan-English, English-Visayan dictionary with more than 14,000 entries. His greatest contribution to Central Philippine University is the establishment of the Bible Department (now College of Theology). The Alton Bigelow Award (or Alma Mater Award) given to an outstanding graduating students every year is in his honor.


Dr. Harland Francis Chandler Stuart was an educator and an engineer. He was well known for his administrative ability, his visions, and his clear judgment. The academic climate which he created promoted high morale and high standards of work. Dr. Stuart guided the college through its first period of growth, striving for a balance between the original emphasis of the school on vocational education and a sound academic foundation.


Dr. Fred Hertling Chambers was responsible for the upholding of scholastic standards of the Central Philippine College and keeping the Christian program and atmosphere of the college strong and meaningful. He was thoughtful, understanding and concerned for the need and welfare of the faculty and administrative staff. In 1945, he came back to Central after internment in Sto. Tomas. Upon seeing the destruction of the campus caused by the World War II, he murmured the famous line: FROM THESE ASHES SHALL RISE A GREATER CENTRAL.


Rev. Dr. Joseph Morris Rickey Forbes was better known as a thinker and a philosopher. To many, he was an enthusiastic worker and a man of action. Even if he was doing something else, he would take time to answer questions from the little children of Central who would enter his office anytime to greet him. He was the friendly, cheery guy in the campus. He taught Philosophy, English, Sociology, Education, and the Bible. He was an effective public relations man for Central. Dr. Forbes showed great interest in all spiritual and educational activities and made himself available to teachers, staff and students.


Rev. Dr. Peter Hugh James Lerrigo came to the Philippines as a missionary in 1902. In 1905, he helped Dr. William Valentine in conceptualizing Central which they called Jaro Industrial School. In 1909, he established the Emmanuel Hospital in Roxas, Capiz. He returned to CPU in 1949 and assumed CPC presidency during which, he led the major reconstruction of buildings and the erection of new ones (including Rose Memorial Hall), the establishment of new courses of study, the reopening of the ROTC the enlargement of the library through the help of his two daughters in the States and the revitalization of the student republic. At Central, when he talked, everybody listened. Dr. Lerrigo was a vibrant, wise leader.

DR. ALMUS OLIVER LARSEN (1952-1956; 1957-1961)

Dr. Almus Oliver Larsen had a wide experience when it comes to work from a laborer to a sales promoter to an athlete. Being Central Philippine University+s president, he abolished the Schedule Committee and the Acting Deans. His philosophy stated the young people who graduate from Central must have had those spiritual and educational experiences as well enable them to live more abundantly and to compete on equal terms with the graduates of other Colleges and Universities.


Rev. Dr. Joseph Turner Howard was known as Tatay Joe to many. He taught in the Hiligaynon dialect since 1949. The advancement of the Filipinization of CPU was evidently shown in his administration as President of the University. He had the command of the native dialect and identified himself well with the Filipino life.

DR. LINNEA AGNES NELSON (1956-1957; 1965-1966)

Dr. Linnea Nelson was one of the missionaries who were sent to Philippines when the Communists closed China to religious groups. When faced with a very serious problem, she examined its complexities. She was the kind of leader who draws clear lines out of the blurry picture. Dr. Nelson+s principle was: each school must work out an environment based on a careful study of the needs of the particular youth and community in which the school is located. She assumed the deanship of the School of Graduate Studies from 1905 until her retirement except during the years she acted as President.


Miss May Angeline Mason Coggins was first assigned at the Baptist Missionary Training School in 1923. During the World War II, she was in the United States. In 1945, she returned to Iloilo. Her significant contribution to the Central Philippine College is her faith in the Filipino+s ability to manage their affairs. Miss Coggins was known to be an activist for Christ, and her life was an epitome of active faith and Christian love. The Bacolod City Council passed a resolution making her an Adopted Daughter of Bacolod City, Philippines, on her 77th birthday. She was guidance counselor and Religion and Ethics leader for many years and became Chairman of the Faculty Council from 1946 to 1947.


Dr. Rex Divinagracia Drilon is the first Filipino president of Central Philippine University. His students fondly remember him as a journalist from Missouri who walks with a busy man´s heavy tread, keeps a thesaurus in his head and exhibits a mood as stable as the waves. His installation as the First Filipino President of CPU was administered by His Excellency President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Dr. Drilon encouraged academic freedom and free expression through speaking and writing. He envisioned a GREATER CENTRAL. It was during his term that the Filipinization of administrative leadership was achieved.


Dr. Agustin Aguilar Pulido is an avid reader and serious thinker. He was responsible for the success of the University by strengthening linkages with the alumni around the world and spearheading accreditation effort and curriculum expansion and revision. He initiated networks with educational institutions and other agencies, and promoted library development, research, faculty and staff development, graduate education, infrastructure development, and outreach projects. His untiring efforts in connection with accreditation were recognized when it was announced that CPU was the school with the greatest number of accredited colleges. Everything that he has done for the University has contributed to its being one of the eighteen quality educational institutions in the Philippines.


Dr. Juanito Maca Acanto has always been passionate about serving God and his fellowmen. A lawyer by profession, he had also been a public servant for many years. In 1997, he shifted from his political stint to school administration when he became the Acting President of Central Philippine University upon the majority vote of the Board of Trustees. In 1998, he was installed as the CPU´s President. Dr. Acanto is the front-liner of Central´s evolution. He initiated the building of the Smile Hill at the center of the Half Moon Drive, saying that If you follow the light, which is Jesus Christ, you will not walk in darkness. He has taken CPU to greater heights not only by beautifying the campus with parks and gardens, but also by continuing the Central Vision of Exemplary Christian Education for Life.

DR. TEODORO C. ROBLES (2008 – 2023)

Dr. Teodoro C. Robles is the current President of Central Philippine University. Prior to CPU, he was professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was deeply involved in digital system design, power electronics, microcomputer system design, power systems, analog and digital electronics, and control systems.

Dr. Robles´ specializations are in the fields of research, technology, and education. An advocate of educational reforms, and food security, he is currently President of Association of Private Higher Education Institutions for Western Visayas. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations, and of the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities and a member of the Iloilo Mission Hospital Corporation.

He has served as research engineer, and engineering faculty at Central Philippine University, Montana State University, Tennessee Technological University, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Purdue University School of Engineering & Technology, and Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Driven with a desire for better technology, he has earned research, and equipments grants from companies like Altera Corporation, Motorola, Texas Instruments, National Semiconductors, and Intel and from the USA Office of Coal Research. Continually innovating, his efforts for course development have been funded by the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis.

As co-author or author, his writings have been published by Pergamon Press, McGraw-Hill Book Company, among others. He has presented papers at the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference at the University of Utah, Conference on the Engineering Applications of Magnetohydrodynamics at the University of Pittsburgh, and the International Symposium on Plasmadynamics at the University of Texas among others.

He has served as Director of the Applied Industrial Research Institute, Associate Director of the Applied Technology Center at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Consultant for the United Nations Development Programme, Department of Science and Technology, Republic of the Philippines, Public Service Company of Indiana, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, and Wisconsin Power Company.

He is a recipient of the Milwaukeee School of Engineering Distinguished Professor Award in 2003, and the Distinguished Centralian Award in 1997.

He completed his BS in Electrical Engineering as a working student at Central Philippine University, his MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering are from Montana State University.

He is married to the former Angeles Antonio, a BSN graduate of Central Philippine University. Their only son Theodore, a PhD graduate of Ohio State University and Assistant Professor at University of California in Los Angeles is msarried to Jennifer Preston. They are blessed with a daughter, Madelyn Kay.