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Friday, September 30, 2022

Xavier Ateneo eyes new Aggies campus at El Gaucho

In a series of consultations conducted over the weekend, Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) stressed the need for a new main campus since its main campus downtown was already congested, experiencing increasing noise levels and at risk from floods.

However, in order to establish a new main campus at its Manresa Campus currently home to its College of Agriculture, Xavier Ateneo has to sell portions of its downtown campus and a portion of Manresa Farm to underwrite the construction and transfer.

Before the next phase of the Master Plan can proceed, the College of Agriculture facilities including its demonstration farms, workshops, field laboratories at Manresa have to be moved and upgraded to XU’s 104-hectare property at El Gaucho.

In a briefing conducted last July 20 specifically for Aggies alumni, College of Agriculture Dean Maria Rosario Mosqueda explained that while El Gaucho campus would house the field laboratory for the College Agriculture, lectures and non-field laboratory classes would still be conducted at the new main campus proposed to be named Masterson Campus in honor of the late Jesuit visionary Fr. William Masterson SJ who foresaw the potential of Manresa in the 1960s.

“We haven’t done detailed planning yet, but we hope by sharing this with you, you can also give us your suggestions and comment on what we have done so far,” Mosqueda said

“We want to leverage the College of Agriculture in the Main (Manresa) Campus as a model for Urban Agriculture with some buildings having rooftop gardens, and other innovations which would make it a real model for Urban Agriculture,” she added.

Mosqueda said Xavier Manresa would be guided by the following principles in developing El Gaucho: Contribution to the XU Mission, Vision and Development Goals (Academic Excellence, Holistic Formation, Global Competitiveness and Social Engagement); support for the college’s four-fold functions of Instruction, Research, Extension and Production; opportunity to improve the college of agriculture’s sustainability; harmony with existing community and the environment; working with available resources, and partnerships with Cagayan de Oro city and the private sector.

“Hopefully we can really change the way we package Agriculture,” Mosqueda noted. “So we shouldn’t just focus on the farm, but also on the other parts of the supply chain, like develop new programs that can be attractive, and at the same time, mission-responsive.”

Besides new and upgrade field laboratories, research and training facilities, farming system models (with LGU CDO and private sector partners), the El Gaucho Campus would also include a self-sustaining Agri-Eco Adventure and Wellness Resort and Convergence/Activity Park.

As proposed under the initial concept presented by Mosqueda, 22 hectares of El Gaucho’s total of 64 allocated for the academic area (mainly plateau) and the Convergence Hub which will function as the campus activity center for theRodeo, Tabuan Center, and possibly a Bagsakan.

Under its proposed 12-year timeline divided into four 3-year phases, developments will kick off in the six hectare first phase with the construction of road network and drainage; utilities (light and water); admin building for land development (coordinating team); living spaces for workers; bus acquisition; land acquisition, land development (crops, pasture and forage).

“The problem is water, it’s really a concern,” Mosqueda noted. “Perhaps that is where we can start land development, prioritizing crops, pasture and forage, because it is a real good area for dairy if we have the water.”

Next, structures such as a SEARSOLIN-like building to house offices, classrooms, accommodations, ancillary facilities and animal production would be established while road and water systems continue to be developed.

“The Farming System Model Area would be devoted to partnerships with industry and private sector to allow students to use their facilities to conduct research, or partner with poultry firms to do feeding trials, and the like.|”

The third phase would entail the development of other components (training facility, convergence hub); establishment of partner locators; and continuing road development.

Finally the last phase would cover the 100% development of ‘academic areas’; and the establishment of the self-sustaining Agri-Eco Adventure and Wellness Resort.

XU is considering moving most of its operations out from its 6-hectare main campus near Plaza Divisoria to provide a better learning environment for its college students.

The planned Campus of the Future in its Manresa Campus will feature well-designed school buildings and administration facilities catering to several academic and technical courses such as Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, Business & Management, Computer Studies, Education, Engineering, and Nursing. The campus will also be adaptable to future developments in academic disciplines and technological innovations.

Main master plan elements include an abundance of open spaces and greeneries – a main plaza, interconnected courtyards, sports facilities, an amphitheater, and a University Forum which will incorporate a museum, theatre, and gallery.

The state-of-the-art Manresa Town Campus of the Future will provide innovative spaces for learning, pioneering research, artistic expression, whole-person formation and experiencing excellence.

The new main campus will retain the 25-hectare forest reserve in Manresa. It will be near XU’s 12-hectare basic education campus at Pueblo de Oro, allowing integration of campuses for greater efficiency and modernization.

To finance the construction of the new campus, the proposed Master Plan envisions the sale of around 14 of the 63-hectare Manresa property to CLI.

CLI plans to develop a township project (working name Manresa Town) which will integrate complementary commercial, residential, office, and leisure uses.

XU is also proposing to sell around 4 of its 6-hectare property in Divisoria that CLI plans to develop into downtown CDO’s Central Business District (working name Xavier City), with XU’s Church of the Immaculate Conceptionat its heart.

“We are not leaving Divisoria,” Yap stressed. “Xavier Ateneo will continue to be present in downtown Divisoria with the University Church and a redesigned campus for the XU School of Medicine, College of Law and most of its graduate programs.”

Should the new campus project be approved by the Jesuit authorities, it is expected to be developed over an 8- to 10- year period.

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