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The First Steps

Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan was founded in 1933 by Fr James TG Hayes SJ, Superior of the Philippine Jesuit mission and first Bishop and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro. In the next 11 years, the two-storey wooden building along Burgos Street that schooled 17 high school male students mushroomed into several buildings on Corrales Avenue with 614 students. This studentry came from the existing high school, from the college department that was added in 1938 with course offerings in Liberal Arts, Education, and Commerce, and from the Grade School established in 1940. All these were brought to the ground during the outbreak of World War II which forced it to close on December 9, 1941. The chemistry laboratory was at first used to extract quinine for the government forces. Later on, the campus was used as the Northern Mindanao headquarters of the Japanese troops after they entered Cagayan de Oro on May 2, 1942.

Soon after Cagayan de Oro was freed from Japanese forces, the school was reduced to rubble when on September 9, 1944 American planes began bombing Cagayan de Oro. “Those liberators wrecked the town of Cagayan and its wharves. When the day was over the old transit showed our college in ruins, the century old cathedral gone, and the lovely house of the Bishop a heap of concrete,” wrote Fr Edward Haggerty SJ, then Rector of Ateneo de Cagayan. His successor Fr Andrew F Cervini SJ saw to the reconstruction of the school. Through their efforts and with the assistance of local and foreign benefactors, the school reopened in 1946 with the usual classes held in partially restored buildings.

By 1946, collegiate program offerings included Bachelor of Arts, Pre-Legal, and Commerce. The Graduate School was opened in 1948. The College of Agriculture was started by Fr William F Masterson SJ in 1953, and the College of Law and the Manresa Farm in 1955.

In March 1958, two years after Fr Francisco Araneta SJ became Rector, Ateneo de Cagayan was granted the university status, It was on August 27, 1958, that Ateneo de Cagayan was inaugurated as a university and was, thenceforth, called Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, in honor of St Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary to the Indies and companion of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Xavier University became the first university in Mindanao and the first Jesuit university in the Philippines.

Fr Francisco Araneta SJ further explained that the change of name “merely crystallized an old spirit that always had been the soul of all Ateneo schools, the spirit of learning and service, the spirit of purposeful scholarship.”

Academic Expansions

Responding to the demands of a rapidly developing Northern Mindanao, Xavier University opened more and more courses, becoming the leading educational institution in the region and the principal training ground for professionals and leaders.

A two year Pre-Engineering course, started in 1957, eventually became a 4-year course with the opening of the College of Engineering in 1981. A graduate course in Guidance and Counselling was opened in the summer of 1958. The College of Medicine started in 1983 while the College of Nursing was established in 1988 and reopened in 2002. In consonance with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) plan to establish Master Pilot Technician Training Center, Xavier University launched the Center for Industrial Technology (CIT). In June 1983, classes for three-year technical program started. The Computer Center began its program offerings in 1993.

The Nursing and Medicine programs now have their own base hospital, the Maria Reyna - Xavier University Hospital, in partnership with the Sisters of St Paul de Chartes and the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. In the global arena, Xavier has linkages with universities and institutions in America, Asia and Europe through its Office of International Networking and Cooperation.

Research and Social Outreach

The University has been closely involved with the life and growth, concerns and problems of Cagayan de Oro City and Northern Mindanao. Under the leadership of Jesuits, the University undertook various developments in countless areas. Improvements in the school’s intellectual life were made; more scholarships were granted, and more emphasis was given to research activities and social involvement.

The Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU) was established in 1957 to conduct researches on Mindanao, its cultures, issues and concerns. In 1963, the University Journal “Kinaadman” started publishing research and articles on Mindanao, and has since been well-received locally and globally.

As a University, Xavier has played an active role in the development of Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao, responding to the needs of its people whenever possible. Since 1963, the Southeast Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN) has been forming and producing rural social development leaders in Asia. Committed to the appreciation, preservation, and enrichment of Filipino culture and heritage, Xavier established the Philippine Folklife Museum and Archives, now Museo de Oro, in 1968, becoming the country's first folkloric museum. The Institute for the Development of Educational Administrators (IDEA) has been training school administrators since 1972. In May 2014, the University opened the XU Marine Station in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental under the management and supervision of the McKeough Marine Center to support researches and training sessions in marine environmental research.

The University has evolved its units and expertise to a comprehensive Research and Social Outreach (RSO) cluster that encompasses both college-based and non-college based programs on research and outreach programs being implemented by established units. The RSO thrust of the University draws guidance from the XU Vision and Mission and from the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA). Through the RSO cluster, XU affirms its commitment to the Church and the Filipino people by sharing its resources and expertise particularly in the five thematic areas of engagement, namely: (1) Food Security; (2) Health; (3) Environment; (4) Governance; and (5) Peace.

Mission and Ministry

Central to Xavier Education is the spiritual and social formation of its community members. Facilitated by the Office of Mission and Ministry, the University has institutionalized a collaborative and integrated formation program, which includes spiritual formation, psycho-emotional formation, physical wellness and sociocultural formation for students, faculty, staff and alumni.

In 2007, Xavier launched the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts out of the desire to contribute to the cultivation and appreciation of Philippine and Mindanao culture, considered as a potent instrument for social transformation. In 2013, the university’s 80th Ruby Jubilee year, XU renamed its chapel as the University Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a testament of its service to the local Church and the greater community.

Xavier exhorts its students to be more open to spiritual growth and to understand the values of Jesuit Education. Programs such as the First Year Formation Program (FFP) and Religious Studies include community exposures to supplement classroom discussions. Other formation units include the Campus Ministries, which provides students and faculty with retreats and recollections; the Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana -Social Involvement Office (KKP-SIO), which encourages social involvement and advocacy; and the Office of Student Affairs, which takes care of the students' leadership formation.

In December 2011, when news of the devastation of Typhoon Sendong broke out, Xavier University responded by launching Operation: Tabang Sendong to give relief to those who were affected by the flash flood. Xavier mobilized an average of 1,500 volunteers per day and served nearly 40,000 families needing aid. Xavier also offered five hectares of its property in the uptown village of Lumbia to serve as resettlement and relocation area for the typhoon survivors. The resettlement site called Xavier Ecoville is envisioned to be a community of responsible citizens who care for one another, for Cagayan de Oro and for the environment. Xavier Ecoville was blessed in 2013 in an event called “Hope Festival.” All throughout the experience of Sendong, XU faculty, staff, students and alumni showed their hearts of cura personalis.

Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan is thus a product of a rich history. But more importantly, it is a product of an encompassing commitment to address the needs of the Church, the global community and the Filipino people. In the minds perhaps of all those who contribute to Xavier’s present standing is Ignatius' vision; and in their hearts, Francis Xavier’s burning desire to spread the good.


Presently, Xavier operates on five campuses: the Agriculture extension, the new campus of the Center for Integrated Technologies in Manresa, the High School and Grade School Annex in Pueblo de Oro, the Grade School campus in Macasandig, and the main tertiary campus on Corrales Avenue.

The main campus houses the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Engineering, Agriculture, and Computer Studies, as well as the schools of Business and Management, Education, and Graduate programs, and the professional schools of Law and Medicine.

Xavier University continues to address the intellectual and spiritual needs of its students, the people of Northern Mindanao, and its neighboring regions. As an academic institution, Xavier has continually shown exemplary performance in instruction, research and public service. Xavier now has Centers of Development in Teacher Education, Agriculture, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, and Electronics and Communications Engineering, and Literature. Likewise, the University has Level IV PAASCU accreditation for Liberal Arts, Sciences and BS Chemistry Programs, Business Administration and Accountancy Programs, and Elementary and Secondary Education Programs, Level III for the Agriculture Program, and Level II for Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Electronics, Industrial, Mechanical Engineering and Basic Medical Education Programs in addition to regaining “Full Autonomy” from CHED until 2014.

Xavier University also continues to further its thrusts of better administration, stronger formation and greater societal engagement. Each unit and department has been clustered into either Academic, Mission and Ministry, Research and Social Outreach or Basic and Technical Education to address the growing scale and complexity of the operations of the University.

As Xavier prepares for the 2015 ASEAN Economic Integration, it envisions being a leading ASEAN university engaged in teaching, formation, and research and social outreach, promoting the pursuit of knowledge and truth, dialogue with religions and cultures, and care for the environment and creation.