CENTRAL PHILIPPINE UNIVERSITY is a non-stock, non-profit Christian Institution of higher learning, where a well-rounded program of education is offered under influences that strengthen faith and build up character.
It was founded in 1905 as the Jaro Industrial School by missionaries of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. It started as an Elementary Vocational School for poor boys who worked for their board and tuition. Perhaps it was the first school in the Philippines to teach that labor is honor. The school also had the distinction of having organized the first student government in the country – the Jaro Industrial School Republic, and one of the oldest student’s newspapers – the Central Echo.
Dr. William 0. Valentine, the first principal, worked hard to have the school incorporated and recognized by the government. His objectives were reached in 1913, the year when the school began to admit female students also. In 1915, the first two years of high school were opened. In 1920, the third and fourth year classes were added and the following year the first batch of high School graduates were turned out.
To satisfy the growing desire of young people for education, a junior college was opened in 1923 and the name of the school was changed to Central Philippine College. The senior college was established in 1936 and by 1940 five degrees were offered: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Religious Education.
The war broke, out and with it came destruction and death. The college buildings were destroyed. Eleven American missionaries were massacred by the enemy. Central students, faculty and staff members and alumni joined the guerrilla movement or the Civil Resistance Government. Many of them laid down their lives for democracy and freedom.
The “Central Spirit” however did not die in the night that was World War II. As soon as war ended the college was reopened by loyal faculty members and returning missionaries who were caught by the war in America. Destroyed buildings were reconstructed and new ones were built with funds from friends at home and abroad. Postwar reconstruction resulted in a well-laid, attractive campus.
April 1, 1953, was an important landmark in the whole CPU story. On that day the ardent dream of thousands of alumni and the long line of American and Filipino pioneers became a reality: Central Philippine College gained university status and became Central Philippine University.
From the founding of the school, Filipinos were gradually given larger responsibilities in its administration. In 1966 the first Filipino president, Dr. Rex D. Drilon, was elected; and in 1968 the entire university property – land, buildings, and equipment – was turned over by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society to the Filipino corporation of CPU. Since 1973, all members of the Board of Trustees and administrative officials of the university have been Filipinos.
In 111 years, CPU has grown from an elementary school with 17 pupils to a widely known university with an enrollment of over 12,000. The 24-hectare campus, which was originally chosen for its quiet and relative isolation, is now a veritable community by itself, with more than 30 buildings used for classrooms and support facilities.
CPU has grown much in physical plant and in educational programs, but it has remained true to its mission as a Christian institution whose motto is Scientia et Fides (Knowledge and Faith). It is affiliated with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches and maintains fraternal ties with the International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches (known before as the American Foreign Mission Society) and the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. The university is also a member of the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU) and the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA).