History of the Ateneo

The Ateneo de Davao University is one of nine schools in the Philippines owned and operated by the Society of Jesus. The school tradition at Ateneo de Davao University is the product of over four centuries of educational experience of the Society. This tradition started with the establishment of a College at Messina in 1547 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, and which is now found in very many educational institutions throughout the world managed by the Society of Jesus.

At the request of the Most Reverend Luis del Rosario S.J., Bishop of Zamboanga, which then included Davao, the Jesuit Fathers took over St. Peter’s Parochial School and founded the Ateneo de Davao in 1948. The founding Fathers were led by Fr. Theodore E. Daigler S.J., who became the first Rector of the school. The other founding Fathers were Frs. Alfredo Paguia S.J. and Grant Quinn S.J. and Scholastics James Donelan S.J. and Rodolfo Malasmas S.J. On 20 May 1948, Ateneo de Davao was registered with the SEC with SEC Registration No. 3467 as a non-stock, non-profit, education institution.

When the Ateneo de Davao formally opened in 28 June 1948, it offered Grades V and VI and 1st to 3rd year high school. There were 71 elementary students and 131 high school students who started in a wooden building on a six-hectare lot in Matina.

The Jacinto campus was obtained in 1951 with the generous support of the Most Rev. Clovis Thibault, P.M.E., Bishop-Prelate of Davao. The campus provided classrooms for high school students in the daytime and college courses in the evenings. College course offerings then were liberal arts, commerce, education, associate in arts, pre-law, secretarial and an elementary teacher’s certificate program. There were 130 male college students at the July 1951 start of the College Department, and they were housed in the wooden Bellarmine Hall. In 1953, the Ateneo de Davao College became co-educational. By then, there were 9 collegiate course programs offered.

A credit union for Ateneo de Davao students was organized by one of its faculty members, Ms. Elsa Escaño in 1956.

By 1960, the population of the College Department had greatly increased, requiring the construction of a five-story building, Canisius Hall. The next year, the College of Law was started, to respond to the demand of pre-law students who wanted to have a quality Catholic legal education at the Ateneo de Davao.

A two-wing, two-storey high school building complex was constructed at the Matina campus in 1967: the High School was transferred to the Matina campus to provide more rooms for the College at the Jacinto Campus. During that same year, the Ateneo also accepted female students in the Grade School, also in Matina. By 1968, the Ateneo de Davao was ready to offer graduate courses.

In 1969, the Ateneo de Davao College received its first accreditation with the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). Ateneo de Davao together with Xavier University and the Ateneo de Zamboanga formed the Mindanao Consortium of Ateneo Schools with the approval of the Department of Education.

In 1973, the Grade School became the first PAASCU-accredited elementary school in the Visayas and Mindanao. The Graduate School entered into a consortium with St. Francis Xavier Regional Seminary for masteral degrees in Theology and in Theology Education.

The High School received its PAASCU accreditation in 1974. This was also the year when the Institute of Small Farms and Industries (ISFI) was established. Likewise, with assistance from the Coconut Federation (COCOFED), a .five-storey dormitory hall was constructed to house the COCOFED scholars. With the end of the COCOFED scholarship grants, the dormitory was eventually converted into offices and classrooms and renamed Dotterweich Hall.

In 1974, Ateneo de Davao opened a branch at the Valderrama lumber camp in Compostela, Davao del Norte. On 23 December 1975, the First Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed with the Ateneo de Davao University Employees Union affiliated with the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), composed of the non-teaching personnel and Grade School faculty.

Together with San Pedro College, San Pedro Hospital, Brokenshire Hospital and the Development of Peoples’ Foundation, the Ateneo co-founded the Davao Medical School Foundation in 1976 as a separate institution but with degrees granted by the Ateneo de Davao. During the same year, the Graduate Institute of Mindanao was started as a consortium between the University of Mindanao and the Ateneo de Davao for the offering of doctorate programs in education.

The Ateneo de Davao gained University status in 1977 with Fr. Emeterio Barcelon S.J. as its first University President. On that same year, the College of Agriculture was started, and female students were accepted in the High School. Preschool education was also started.

In 1979, in coordination with and the support of the National Science Development Board, the Regional Science Teaching Center (RSTC) was established at the University to service Southern Mindanao. For the first time, engineering education was introduced at the Ateneo with chemical engineering as its first degree course program.

In 1982, the Social Involvement Coordinating Office (SICO) was established in response to the need for conscientization and social involvement of college students. The High School was re-accredited with PAASCU for another five years in 1983 while a playschool was also added in the Grade School.

Through a building grant from the USAID-Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad, additional buildings and facilities were completed at the Jacinto campus in 1984, especially to strengthen the University’s programs in science and technology. In the same year, three engineering programs were added: civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

In June 1986, Fr. Antonio S. Samson S.J. became the second University President.

A university-wide reorganization was done in 1989: lay persons were appointed as school heads and treasurer; Mrs. Katie Delima became the first female High School Principal. The Matina campus was for the basic education units: preschool, grade school and high school. The Jacinto campus was for tertiary education units (College, College of Law and the Graduate School) and for other University support offices and services, research, extension and auxiliary units. The University maintained a retreat house in Talomo for spiritual and other formation programs and activities.

An Instructional Media Center was established at the High School in 1990 housing the library, computer laboratory and the audio-visual room. At the College, the Ateneo Computer Science Center was created to offer computer support courses both for degree and non-degree students.

On account of dwindling student enrollment and the requirement of a .fifty hectare farm, the agriculture program was phased out in 1991. Likewise, the University discontinued its Valderrama – Compostela branch. The College of Arts and Sciences, High School and Grade School were reaccredited by PAASCU for another .five years. The graduate Theology program was started in 1992 and became the Ignatian Institute for Religious Education (IIRE) under the leadership of Fr. William Malley S.J.

In June 1993, Fr. Edmundo M. Martinez S.J. became the third University President. On the following year, the Business and Management Education programs were named Center of Development (COD) by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

In 1996, CHED named the University as a Center of Excellence for Teacher Education. Information technology was strengthened by a memorandum of agreement with Mosaic Communications and with assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The partnership called for a joint implementation of an internet service and computerization program.

There was also a felt need to improve the physical plant and facilities of the Matina campus to answer the needs of a growing student population. In 1996, the University embarked on an aggressive infrastructure program with the construction of a new High School, with a three-concourse, four-storey, 114-room building. It also called for the enlargement of the Preschool and Grade School with the construction of another two-concourse, four- storey, 99-room building. Libraries, laboratories and offices were greatly improved; an interactive preschool library and technology center was set up.

At 1997, the Civil Service Commission launched its Local Scholarship Program (LSP) for government employees and named the University as one of its accredited schools for its scholars.

In 1998, reorganizations led to the creation of the School of Business and Governance (SBG). The school vertically articulated course programs, integrating the undergraduate, the graduate and postgraduate programs. The CHED selected the University as Center of Development in Chemistry and Mathematics Education.

In 1999, the College of Arts and Sciences programs were likewise vertically articulated. This led to the renaming of the College of Arts and Sciences as the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS). The College Scholarship Program was also instituted as an office headed by a coordinator and supervised by a committee composed of thirteen administrators.

In 2000, the Ateneo de Davao University ventured into another infrastructure improvement. Finster Hall, a 9-story building with a ground level food court, with 110 new rooms and offices, was built. Ateneo de Davao became the .first university in Davao City to have three 20-person service elevators and a state-of-the-art auditorium with 600 seats. The Matina Sports Complex which provides athletic, recreational and canteen facilities for the Grade School and High School was completed in late 2004. It is also a convenient venue for graduations, liturgies and large gatherings. The CHED named the University as a Center of Development in Information Technology Education.

The University had been offering a master’s degree program in Nursing Administration since the 1970s, the University opened an undergraduate BS Nursing in 2001. The program started under the auspices of the Natural Science and Math Division. The program eventually became the College of Nursing.

The University was granted full autonomy status on 25 September 2001 for a five-year period by the CHED through Memorandum Order No. 32, Series of 2001. The autonomous status was later extended by the Commission on Higher Education until 2012.

Towards the end of 2004, Fr. Antonio S. Samson S.J. returned to the University as its President. An organizational assessment team with an external consultant was tasked to review procedures and operations of University.

Faculty Development Programs for graduate degrees and short-term seminars and workshops have remained a priority. In support of research efforts, a University Research Manual was put out in 2006. A Research and Publications Office was set up. The Institute of Small Farms and Industries, an extension arm of the University, celebrated 25 years of outreach service to the larger community of southern Mindanao.

The University Chapel of Our Lady of Assumption was adorned with colorful stained glass windows. Stained glass windows in celebration of the Jubilee of the First Jesuit Companions were also placed in the High School Chapel of St. John Berchmans. A new Grade School Chapel of St. Stanislaus Kostka was finished in late 2006, with stained glass windows to be added when completed.

In May 2006, there was a University-wide strategic planning to revisit the vision and mission of the University. Stronger rules on cheating and academic honesty were established as part of initiatives for honesty and student integrity. The University participated in the Conversations of Jesuit Universities in Mindanao in May 2006, which ushered the strengthening of cooperation among the three Mindanao Jesuit Universities.

In the summer of 2007, the School of Arts and Sciences had its major strategic planning to identify directions and priorities for the next five years. It was attended by administrators, support services, members of Jesuit community and Jesuit superiors.

In 2008, the University celebrated its 60th Jubilee. A commemorative stamp was launched in coordination with the Philippine Postal Corporation. The Blue Iguana of Davao City designed the four stamps and the first-day cover envelop. A series of public lectures was rendered in celebration of the jubilee year.

In the same year, the Grade School was granted PAASCU re-accreditation for a five-year period until November 2013. Formation of High School administrators was developed which included Ignatian Leadership Training and Billings Natural Family Planning. An MBA Program for Alflocor executives started in early November. SBG received its CHED accreditation for the CPA Review Center. The University placed 2nd among the Top Performing Schools in Category A for the Certified Public Accountants Board examinations. A new dean, Atty. Manuel P. Quibod, was appointed for the College of Law. An expertise-based immersion program called “Pagtataya” was organized by SICO in coordination with the Theology Division.

Construction of a five-story Jubilee Hall was started. ADDU HS Class ’83 donated a large statue of Our Lady of the Assumption near the Jacinto main gate and of Madonna and Child at the McArthur front of Matina Campus. The three clinics were integrated into one health service center headed by Dr. Michael T. Manalaysay MD. Fr. Daniel J. McNamara S.J. succeeded Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia S.J. as Rector of the Jesuit Community in Ateneo de Davao University. Fr. Magadia became the Provincial-Superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

On December 19, 2008, the CBA with the College Faculty Union (CFU-ADDU) was signed.

His Excellency Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste and a Nobel Laureate, gave a lecture in the University with the theme “Is Long Lasting Peace an Attainable Dream?” in the middle of January 2009. This was the first lecture-visit of a head of state in the University.

Late June 2009, the School of Business and Governance had its major strategic planning to identify its priorities and directions for the next years. Dr. Danilo M. Te, the new SBG dean, spearheaded the planning in coordination with the Personnel Office.

In early August 2009, the University participated in the 21-day Service Learning Program (SLP) at Sanata Dharma, Yogjakarta, Indonesia under the auspices of Association of Jesuit College and Universities – East Asia and Oceania (AJCU-EAO).

A conference of Jesuit universities and institutions in Mindanao was held at the Finster Hall. Dubbed as Conversations 2009, its inspiration came from General Congregation 35 which calls Jesuit institutions to respond to emerging frontiers. Hence, the chosen theme: “Setting Mindanao Afire: New Frontiers after 150 Years”. In celebration of the 150th year after the return of Jesuits in the Philippines, the University implemented a three landmark projects: training and formation of public school administrators in Agusan del Sur (instruction), a major research on mining in Mindanao (research), and a feeding program in Davao City (extension). A series of public lectures was rendered to commemorate the sesquicentennial. Furthermore, the famous AdZU band and the ADMU-ADDU glee clubs also performed for the first time in the University.

High School faculty labor union started its negotiations with the University negotiating panel.

Two round-table discussions were hosted by the University to address pressing concerns in Southern Mindanao: Water and Energy Crisis and the State of Education. These were spearheaded by the School of Arts and Sciences in coordination with divisions, government agencies and nongovernment organizations in the region.

In the mid of December 2009, the University was the fourth higher education institution (HEI) in the country to be granted institutional accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) and Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines (FAAP). The accreditation was granted to the University “for its long tradition of exemplary accomplishments in the areas of instruction, research and community service and high performance of its graduates in government licensure examinations; for the laudable practices leading to internal efficiency and external productivity; for its meritorious record of excellence as evidenced by the high level of performance of program accreditation and effective assurance mechanisms.”