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.”
The Dr Jose P Rizal School of Medicine is housed in a five-storey building located at the east side of Xavier University campus. It offers health care to the community with 35 beds and by seeing about 450 out-patients per day. The Medical Library with 5,000 volumes and 256 journals is the Mindanao repository for World Health Organization publications.
Founded in 1983, the medical school has Level 1 Accredited Status from the Commission on Higher Education as a Center of Development in Medical Education, and was recognized by the Professional Regulations Commission and the Board of Medicine for having ranked second in the national Physician Licensure Examination over 11 consecutive years. The school was chosen by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development as a satellite medical institution for its project on the development of research capabilities. In collaboration with the XU Community Health Care Center, the school was the pilot site in Mindanao for the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Program in 2008. The research division also offers consultative services on ethical issues.
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