CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The Campus of the Future, by far the biggest project of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, is set to expand the university’s post-pandemic learning spaces and academic programs.
“The new campus will not just be bigger in size, but most importantly, it will be a 21st-century campus that is smart, environmentally efficient, future-ready, and adaptive to the new normal,” shares XU President Fr Mars Tan SJ.
The masterplan includes an abundance of open spaces, a main plaza, interconnected courtyards, campus-wide wireless connectivity, bike lanes, sports facilities, newly-designed academic buildings, and the center of the life of the Xavier Ateneo community, the University Church.
The proposal is to name it formally as the “Masterson Campus” in honor of the great visionary Jesuit Fr William Masterson SJ who foresaw the potential of Manresa in the 1960s.
The project will rise on a 21-hectare land in Manresa, adjacent to the 14.3-hectare township to be known as “Manresa Town.” The 25-hectare forest reserve and animal sanctuaries will be retained in the uptown property.
This new campus is set to provide innovative and smart components for synchronous and asynchronous learning, pioneering research, artistic expression, and whole-person formation.
Fr Mars has underscored the crucial role of health sciences in responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic, thus, making it a priority in the masterplan of the new campus.
Stakeholder consultations prior to approval
In August 2021, the Vatican finally gave its seal of approval for the new campus project after “having attentively examined the documents submitted.”
The long wait for the final decision only showed the amount of time devoted by the Church authorities to review and study the project.
As part of the process of seeking approval, Xavier Ateneo conducted a total of 15 stakeholder consultations with students, parents, faculty and staff members, and XU alumni groups, including CDO’s diocesan clergy, CDO’s civic, business, and government leaders, which began in 2019. There were also spiritual discernment sessions among Jesuits, the Board of Trustees, and the President’s Council. Discussions about the advantages of the project as well as the issues raised by stakeholders were part of the consultations.
To widen the consultations, XU leadership also held meetings with former Xavier University Presidents (Frs. Ernesto Javier SJ, Ben Nebres SJ, Antonio Samson SJ, Jose Villarin SJ), then-President Fr Roberto Yap SJ, the Provincial of the Society of Jesus Fr Primitivo Viray SJ, and then-CDO Archbishop Antonio Ledesma SJ DD.
There was also a special dialogue between Fr Yap and then-Archbishop Ledesma at his residence. Those who joined the dialogue were Dr Libby Abesamis, Mr Manny Boniao, Fr Mars Tan SJ, Fr Archie Carampatan, SJ, and the late, Ms Ghaye Alegrio.
The objectives of the consultations were to present the project, raise concerns, address issues, and generate possible solutions. The results of the consultations formed part of the documents submitted to Jesuit authorities, which were then endorsed by Superior General Fr Arturo Sosa.
Celebrating its centennial in 2033
“We venture boldly into the future yet ever mindful of preserving the heritage of Xavier Ateneo, that of providing the best possible Jesuit education forming our youth to become men and women for and with others,” says Fr Viray in his message during the MOA signing.
Since the Vatican approval, Xavier Ateneo has continued its information campaign through the university convocations and on social media. The project has not only received positive engagements, but also messages of hope and support.
“XU’s Campus of the Future will continue to be a birthplace and home for leaders of character, who will contribute to creating a better Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, and the Philippines,” shares Andre Robert Daba, Executive President of XU Central Student Government.
“The physical move will not alter the spirit and mission of XU, but it will take it a step closer to realizing its vision of becoming a leading ASEAN University.”
This project is in line with Xavier Ateneo’s strategic plan to be the top university in Mindanao and among the best in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, particularly as it moves forward to celebrating its centennial in 2033.
Post-pandemic learning and formation strategies
XU is not just building a new campus but a new Xavier University, more responsive and adaptive to the new normal and to the 21st century education. As such, part of the important preparations is in the area of learning development and innovation.
XU has started planning on gathering data and inputs from the university community on different learning strategies (academic, formation, research, and social engagement) that will be implemented in the new XU in Manresa.
The preparations will involve FGDs and consultations with key stakeholders of the University to define and articulate XU’s niche in the future educational landscape of Mindanao and the country and its effective modalities to deliver education best in the new normal.
“These learning strategies should be properly executed in the new campus through accurate planning of the designs of the facilities and the campus in general,” Fr Mars said.
“In a way, the Campus of the Future becomes one of the major vehicles to carry out the transformation of Xavier University into a more competitive higher education institution in the 21st century ASEAN region.”