Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the University of the Philippines Upon Receiving an Honorary Degree

June 16, 1960

Mr. President, faculty members and staff, students and fiends of the Philippine University:

I express to you my deep and lasting gratitude for the honor you bestow on me today. The kindness of the University of the Philippines in granting me the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws has a particular personal significance.

Mr. President, if the records of the Philippine University were so fortunate as to survive the destruction of the late war, you will find in your records an incident in which another American was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. This was General MacArthur. As a major, I was a staff officer with him and accompanied him to the exercises.

At that time it could scarcely ever have crossed my mind that one day, sir, I should be awarded the honorary degree of this great university, and indeed later as President of my own country to be privileged to carry back to you General MacArthur's personal greetings, transmitted to me only 3 or 4 days ago in Washington.

He said, "One of the high moments of my life in the Philippines was when I received the Honorary Doctorate of this great university." This university stands as a visible monument to a tradition which your country and mine share. That tradition is: the right of the citizen to education on the basis of merit.

When I lived in Manila, the university was located in Ermita. At that time, the healthy growth of the school already required larger facilities, and the move to Dillman had begun. As one who has experienced the problems of an administrator in higher education, Mr. President, I congratulate you on the wonderful university which you have here, and on the strength and vitality of the educational tradition which you represent.

Now, sir, in order to get in perspective my own short experience as a president of a great university, I trust you will not be offended if I tell a story that was told years ago, at my expense.

The story was this, that in the university, when they found that a man was no longer a good professor, they made him a dean. But when he was no longer a good dean, they made him president.

I hasten, my friends, to add, the story applied only to me.

You and all who are associated with you--faculty, staff and students, friends and public officials--are joined in a noble human endeavor--the search for truth; the teaching of it; the preservation of truth for ages ahead.

In the long future before us, command of technical skills, knowledge, understanding of the past and a vision of what free men can accomplish, integrity in every public trust and in every personal responsibility, faith in ourselves and in our fellows and in the guiding hand of our Creator-all these qualifies of mind and of spirit are essential, if our accomplishments are to match our hopes and our dreams.

Their possession far outweighs all physical defects and wants. Given them and a genuine fellowship, a sound partnership with other peoples of like mind and purpose, every physical lack can be filled; every physical resource developed in the fullest measure for our mutual good and the profit of mankind.

In these days when an aggressive and strong ideology proclaims a purpose of world domination, the free world cannot afford to neglect its own security--its moral, economic, intellectual, and material strength. But all too often we measure the place and the power and the prestige of a nation by its numbers and its riches in nature and in gold.

Population in men and women, of course, is an index to potential stature, if those men and women are eager in freedom to expand themselves and all their talents; growing in mastery of nature; ever more conscious of their dependence on their fellows; always devoted to supporting the prosperity, the dignity, the priceless freedom of their own nation and of all mankind.

We are so minded--we of the Philippines and the United States and of all the free world.

In numbers, we are mightier than all those who are allied against us and those still in bondage under them. Let us never for a moment forget this world fact: the bulk of the earth's people are joined with us in the eternal pursuit of freedom and dignity and justice for every single individual.

But our chief and most potent asset, in the battle for men's minds and their loyalty, is our commitment to the mutual interchange of knowledge and wisdom and culture; and our commitment to the mutual interchange of new skills; of our power in machines; of our mastery over nature.

Not all peoples and their nations are so minded. for them, no matter how immense their numbers may be, if the minds and souls within them are chained in the dictates of tyrannic master plans; conceived only for the purposes of those who rule; enforced by distant and pitiless bosses, the ultimate products will be: sterility in works, hopeless futility in spirit, increasing resentment that finally ignites revolt.

Tens of millions cannot forever be denied their freedom to venture on their own. They will not eternally remain chained to the mastery of other men.

In so speaking I merely echo a deep seated conviction expressed by Jose Rizal--scholar and writer and scientist, doctor of medicine, leader of men, patriot.

Were he here today in the land that he so fervently loved, in the halls of the learning that he pursued all his days, not one of us could equal him in praise of this university's purpose. None of us, I am certain, could hope to reach his heights of inspiration, or his exhortations that we use our every muscle of body, every talent of mind and soul toward the golden goal of peace and friendship with freedom among men and their nations. Nevertheless, in all humility and in recognition of his greatness in voice and thought, I venture to suggest that the core of his message might be this:

Filipinos, Americans, forever strengthen your brotherhood; forever grow together in knowledge; in wisdom; in your faith as children of God so endowed by God that you can achieve, under His guiding providence, mastery of the universe for all people's good and His glory.

Again, my friends, I thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:11 a.m. His opening words "Mr. President" referred to Dr. Enrique Virata, Acting President of the University of the Philippines.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the University of the Philippines Upon Receiving an Honorary Degree Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234699

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