Following the directives of Rev. Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan has successfully conducted consultations with various stakeholders for the construction of the 21st-century “XU Campus of the Future” at Manresa in uptown Cagayan de Oro City.
The Board of Trustees, the President’s Council, and the XU Jesuit Community have also engaged in spiritual conversations essential in the discernment deemed necessary by Father General before he makes the important decision on this major project.
Consultations from the ground
In a letter sent by Fr. Sosa in March, he wrote: “In general, the plan seems reasonable, and some initial leg work has been done. Thus, I would be open to this alienation and eventual transfer. However, given the magnitude of this undertaking, involving such an enormous amount of money, I ask that more in-depth and extensive discernment and consultation be done before approving this request.”
On July 20, two sets of consultations with the alumni were held at AVR1 of the Old Library. Officers and members of the XU Ateneo Alumni Associations and representatives per college and high school batch attended the morning session while the officers of XU Agriculture Alumni Association, Aggie faculty and staff, and retirees were present in the afternoon.
Xavier Ateneo Vice Presidents, Deans, Chairs, and Directors of offices attended the consultation on July 18 at AVR1. On August 7 and 14, the new campus project was presented to faculty and staff of the higher education colleges and senior high school, respectively, at the XU Little Theater.
On July 17, the consultation at AVR1 centered on the sentiments of the Xavier Ateneo student body, represented by their leaders from all colleges/schools and from co-curricular and extra-curricular organizations of the university. The consultation was repeated to other student leaders on August 7 also at AVR1 and then to a full-house student audience on August 10 at the XU Little Theater.
Officers of the XU Parents Associations from all levels, namely, the Grade School (XUGS PTA), Junior High (PSTAG), Senior High (PTC), and College (XUCPFA), participated in the consultations on July 16 at AVR1.
The community leaders of Cagayan de Oro were also consulted. Among those in attendance during the July 22 consultation at AVR1 were City Mayor Oscar Moreno and members of his administration from the City Planning Office (CPO) and City Information Office (CIO), representatives from Barangay Balulang, Road and Traffic Administration (RTA), Brotherhood of Christian Business and Professionals (BCBP), Oro Chamber, Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (CEPALCO), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-10), Commission on Higher Education (CHED-10), Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD), and Promote Northern Mindanao Foundation (PNMF).
The Campus of the Future project was also presented to the clergy and religious from the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on August 5 at the Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary.
The consultations started with the presentation of Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Roberto “Bobby” Yap SJ, on the new campus project. After the presentation, there were lively discussions on the concerns about the project and possible ways to address these challenges. Many who attended the consultations expressed enthusiasm and excitement about the Campus of the Future.
Dialogue to address the concerns
Fr. Sosa wrote: “Dialogue with the faculty, staff, students, and parents of XU, and even representatives from the alumni would be important. Should serious questions be raised in this process, they should likewise be addressed. I would like to see that the objections and alternative solutions are sufficiently addressed. My hope is that this would make this project even stronger, with greater and more solid support from major stakeholders.”
Among the concerns raised by the stakeholders were: respecting XU’s heritage (tangible and intangible), solving traffic, augmenting transportation, environmental impact of the project, lack of water supply in El Gaucho (where the College of Agriculture will be transferred), and the planning and coordination with the LGU Cagayan de Oro and government agencies for the related infrastructure development.
Possible ways to respect heritage discussed in the consultations include: working with government authorities (e.g. National Historical Commission), adaptive re-use of buildings, replicating historical monuments from the old campus to the new one, placing historical markers in the Divisoria and Manresa campuses. Regarding accessibility to the new campus, DPWH in the consultation informed the stakeholders of plans to build new roads going uptown from Balulang and Macabalan. E-jeeps and shuttles could be added as means of transportation from Manresa to downtown or to El Gaucho. It was recognized that close coordination with the CDO LGU and other government agencies would be sine qua non for the success of the project.
XU and Cebu Landmasters Inc. (the project’s developer) shared that the campus will follow Green Building Practices (e.g. energy efficiency, urban gardens, rain-water harvesting, natural lighting design, dual piping, comprehensive solid waste management, water retention tanks). XU will need to work with government agencies for the water sources needed in El Gaucho.
Discernment and spiritual conversations
Fr. Sosa also emphasized the vital role of discernment and spiritual conversations in deciding whether to go ahead with this proposed project: “Even more important than discussion and dialogue with the different sectors is a true discernment, which would involve spiritual conversation, and which would require a profound spiritual freedom and an authentic desire to search for the will of God for such an important decision.”
Using Guidelines for Spiritual Conversations issued by Fr. Sosa himself, concerns raised by stakeholders during the consultations were prayerfully considered in spiritual conversations. The primary leaders of Xavier Ateneo and the Jesuit Community engaged in spiritual conversations about the “Campus of the Future”: the Jesuit Community on September 1, the President’s Council on September 2, and the Board of Trustees on September 7.
After prayerful discernment, all three groups were unanimous in saying “Yes” to endorsing the project to Father General for its merits and importance for the future. The Campus of the Future was prayerfully judged in line with the Jesuit university’s strategic plan to be the best university in Mindanao and among the best in the Philippines, especially as Xavier Ateneo moves forward to celebrating its centennial in 2033.
If the expansion project is approved by the Jesuit authorities in Rome, it is expected to be developed over an 8- to 10-year period. The new campus is proposed to be named the “Masterson Campus,” honoring the visionary Jesuit Fr. William Masterson SJ who foresaw the potential of Manresa in the 1960s.