The missionary work of Drs. Robert B. and Metta J. Silliman, after whom the Silliman University Main Library facility was named, comes to life in a book recently published by an American historian.

Mission Accomplished: Robert and Metta Silliman’s Mission Work in the Philippines, 1924-1966 chronicles the story of the Silliman couple as American missionaries in Dumaguete and teachers at Silliman University.

Dr. Robert was the first Arts and Sciences dean of the University, while Dr. Metta was an English professor.

Authored by Ms Tawny Ryan Nelb, an archivist and historian based in Midland, Michigan and past president of the Historical Society of Michigan, the book is now available for purchase on and

In a letter to Silliman President Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, the author described the missionary work of the Silliman couple: “They taught at Silliman University, interacted with nearby mountain people, and helped nurture their students at the college.”

“If this wasn’t enough to challenge them, they lived a nomadic life in the jungles of Negros to evade the Japanese invaders during World War II. They were eventually rescued by an American submarine and later returned to their mission on Negros after the Japanese surrender,” Ms Nelb added.

She cited the strong support of Grace A. Dow and other members of the First Presbyterian Church (and later the Bertha E.R. Strosacker Memorial Presbyterian Church) in Midland, Michigan as instrumental in the success of the missionary work of Drs. Robert and Metta J. Silliman.

“Although this narrative recounts the work of Robert and Metta Silliman and only a few of the many dedicated men and women who contributed to the growth and development of Silliman University and the Presbyterian Church in Midland, Michigan over the years, it is an amazing story about how collaboration among people and commitment to others can have a worldwide impact,” Ms Nelb wrote of the book.  

Copies of Mission Accomplished: Robert and Metta Silliman’s Mission Work in the Philippines, 1924-1966, donated by Ms Nelb to the University, can also be accessed at the Robert B. and Metta J. Silliman Library.