The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP) convened from 27 – 30 August 2023 at the Mirador Jesuit Villa and Retreat House, Baguio City, Philippines, for the AJCU-AP Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) Meeting 2023. Representing 18 member institutions from 9 countries were 28 meeting participants composed of CEOs or their representatives, and International Networking Officers (INOs) of their respective institutions. This August 2023 gathering was the largest ever and most well-attended CEOs Meeting of the AJCU-AP, and was hosted by Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.
In his welcome remarks, Fr. Roberto C. Yap SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila and also President of the AJCU-AP, highlighted the multi-dimensional diversity of the AJCU-AP as a community, with its members belonging to 3 different organization types and speaking at least 7 national languages from across the region.
The CEOs meeting agenda covered important areas of focus and work of the AJCU-AP, including regular AJCU-AP programs, proposals for new AJCU-AP programs, and updates about special Jesuit concerns. In particular, Fr. Thomas Michel SJ of the Xavier Learning Community gave updates on the recently-concluded service learning program (SLP) entitled “River, Mountain, People: The Art of Beings (Discernment and Peace)” and held in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Fr. Wan-liu Ignatius Hung SJ of Fu Jen Catholic University (FJCU) likewise shared updates regarding the 13th Global Leadership Program (GLP) for Jesuit Universities in East Asia with the theme “Our Blue Planet ~ Ocean and Sustainability”, and hosted by FJCU. A total of 30 delegates representing 5 East Asian Universities participated in the GLP program.
For special Jesuit concerns, the CEOs received inputs from and engaged in discussions with resource persons and subject matter experts on becoming Laudato Si’ Universities, and on safeguarding our communities and creating gender-safe spaces. Numerous CEOs found these discussions very relevant to their work, and the group agreed to continue the exchange of information, sharing of expertise, and even benchmarking among AJCU-AP members.
In its desire to deepen learning and formation, and increase its impact, the AJCU-AP CEOs also considered proposals for new areas of work, including a training program on Ignatian Leadership in Higher Education, and on Collaborative Online International Learning, potential partnership with The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, and a Leadership and Friendship Retreat which seeks to impart interiority and discernment practices to those who belong to non-Christian belief systems. Of these proposals, the AJCU-AP CEOs voted to immediately adopt the Ignatian Leadership in Higher Education Training Program, and instructed AdMU’s Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design to immediately detail plans for implementation in 2024. Meanwhile, the CEOs also approved for further discussion and the formation of task forces for the other proposals presented.
The AJCU-AP CEOs also received updates and directions from the Jesuit Conference in Asia Pacific (JCAP), and the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU). JCAP President Fr. Antonio Moreno SJ joined the group virtually and shared highlights from De Statu Societatis Iesu – 2023, Superior General Arturo Sosa SJ’s recently released e-book entitled “Sent to Collaborate in the Reconciliation of All Things in Christ”. Meanwhile Dr. Yoshiaki Terumichi, President of Sophia University (Japan), shared updates from the IAJU Board Meeting held in Rome in March 2023. The CEOs heard updates as well from two IAJU Task Forces, namely the Peace and Reconciliation Task Force, and the Democracy and Human Rights Task Force, shared by Dr. Simon Koo of The Beijing Center and Dean Philip Arnold Tuaño PhD of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government respectively. Dr. Koo requested the AJCU-AP members to continuously exchange information about peace-building activities in their respective institutions. Dean Tuaño meanwhile presented a collaborative research opportunity called Democracy Observatory which hopes to directly address and contribute to the discourse on the precarious state of democracy around the world. The AJCU-AP approved the formation of working committees to ensure progress on both initiatives.