Ateneo de Zamboanga University

Ateneo de Zamboanga University
Pamantasang Ateneo de Zamboanga

The Jesuit university in the Zamboanga peninsula, Philippines
Latin: Universitas Athenaea Zamboangensis
Former names
Escuela Catolica (1912)
Ateneo Elementary School (1916)
Ateneo de Zamboanga (1928)
Motto Pro Deo et Patria (Latin)
Motto in English
In the Service of God and Country
Type Private, Research University
Established 1912 (1912)
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Chairman Efren Y. Wee, Ph.D.
President Fr. Karel S. San Juan, S.J.
Vice-president Rebecca V. Fernandez, Ph.D.
Principal Fr. Stephen T. Abuan, S.J.
(Junior High School)
Pilar C. Agraviador
(Grade School)
Location Zamboanga City, Philippines
Campus Main campus La Purisima St., Barangay, (Senior High School, Colleges, Graduate School, School of Medicine, College of Law)
Barangay Tumaga, (Grade School & Junior High School )
Alma Mater Song "Animo Ateneo"
Colors Blue      and      White
Sports varsity sports teams
- men's college
- women's college
- 10 boys' high school
- 10 girls' high school
Nickname Blue Eagles (Azul Aguila)
Mascot Eagle
Website ADZU

The Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) is a Catholic and Jesuit university in Western Mindanao. It is also known by the acronym AdZU. AdZU began in 1912 as Escuela Catolica, a parochial school run by Spanish Jesuits.[1]It is the second oldest Jesuit school in the Philippines and the second Jesuit school to be named Ateneo. It initially offered primary and secondary education for boys. It became a college in 1952 and a university in August 2001. It currently operates on two campuses, La Purisima Street with the tertiary and senior high school divisions and Barangay Tumaga, outside Zamboanga City proper, with the junior high school and grade school divisions.


Pre-war Ateneo

The Ateneo de Zamboanga University began in 1912 as Escuela Catolica, a parochial school run by Spanish Jesuits at the old site of the Immaculate Conception Church across from the Sunken Garden. Fr. Manuel M. Sauras, S.J., was the first director and served in that capacity up to 1926. Escuela Catolica served as the parochial school of the Immaculada Concepcion Parish headed by Fr. Miguel Saderra Mata, S.J. Classes were held on the ground floor of the rectory of the parish, which was adjacent to Plaza Pershing. While the curriculum was similar to that of the public elementary school, the Spanish Jesuits emphasized religious teaching alongside quality education. Catholic education later became a factor in the decision of the Jesuits to open a school that was empowered to issue the titulo oficial upon completion of studies.

In 1916, the Escuela Catolica expanded and became the Ateneo Elementary School. Its grade school opened that year with seven grades. The school name was changed to Ateneo de Zamboanga when its high school opened in 1928. High school classes were held on the top floor of the three-story Ateneo building along I. Magno corners P. Reyes and Urdaneta streets. The building used to be the Mindanao Theater, now the site of the City Theater. Five lay teachers and the Jesuit Director made up the faculty. The elementary school occupied the lower floors. The first high school students graduated from Ateneo in 1932. The ten young male graduates belonged to Zamboanga City’s crème de la crème, one of whom was Roseller T. Lim who would become the first Zamboangueño senator of the Philippines.

The American Jesuits took over from the Spanish Jesuits in 1930, with Fr. Thomas J. Murray, S.J., as the first American director. In 1932 the government gave official recognition to the high school.

In 1938, AdZ opened night classes in commerce and pre-law, thus pioneering its expansion to college, later interrupted by World War II. Pre-war Ateneo expanded with an enrolment of 230 in the grade school and 376 in the high school under Fr. Eusebio G. Salvador, S.J. A Zamboangueño and himself a product of Escuela Catolica, Fr. Salvador was the first Filipino director of AdZ. In 1938 a library was built on the first floor of the Knights of Columbus building. A façade, an auditorium, and an annex were also built. Fr. John Shinn, S.J., was appointed headmaster of the grade school and Fr. Francis X. Clark, S.J., became the principal and dean of discipline of the high school. The school was closed during World War II and used by the Japanese as a public school until it was shelled and bombed by American forces on March 8 and 9 in 1945, prior to the liberation of the city.

Post-war Ateneo

The high school and intermediate classes (grades 5 and 6) reopened in 1946, in a nipa-sawali building on a new site outside of the poblacion called the Jardin de Chino near Camino Nuevo. It was providential that shortly before the outbreak of the war, Fr. Eusebio G. Salvador, S.J., had bought 18 adjoining lots in Jardin de Chino on Bailen Street (now La Purisima Street). In 1947 he bought an additional 1.5 hectares along Camino Nuevo St. adjoining the Bailen St. property to bring to a total of 4.3 hectares the La Purisima campus. Together with Frs. Kyran B. Egan and Cesar E. Maravilla, he reopened high school classes.

In 1949, Ateneo became independent of the Jesuit mission in Zamboanga, separating itself from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. The school was officially recognized as a Jesuit school apart from the parish. The post liberation years were a period of rapid physical, curricular, and enrollment expansion of the school. By 1949, AdZU underwent a major make-over. A solid structure of fine wood replaced the nipa-and-sawali class rooms. The gymnasium-auditorium (now Brebeuf Gymnasium) was constructed in 1950, making it the oldest existing structure on campus today. A college was established in 1952 and a graduate school in 1976.

In the years between 1946 and 1952, a total of 2,766 students graduated from high school. The college opened in 1952 with a two-year collegiate program, which offered pre-law courses and a degree in Associate in Arts. The college gradually expanded to include four-year bachelor’s programs in the arts, commerce, education, and nursing. In 1956, the college and high school became separate departments.


AdZ experienced a “building boom” beginning with the completion of the Jesuit Residence in 1959, Sacred Heart Chapel in 1961, Gonzaga Hall in 1964, and Canisius Hall in 1967. In 1972, the two one-storey grade school buildings, Berchmans and Kostka Halls, were built. By mid-70s, basic education was well established with an enrolment reaching 381 students in the grade school. In 1976, higher education expanded to include the graduate school which opened an MBA course, the first graduate program in business administration in Region IX. Soon after, other master's degrees followed: public administration, nursing, guidance and counselling, and education. These programs were offered under the guidance of Fr. Ernesto A. Carretero, S.J., the first President elected by the Board of Trustees of AdZ.

In the years that followed, more changes and developments took place. Campion Hall and Bellarmine Hall were built in 1979 and 1980. The Fr. Jose Ma. Rosauro, S.J., Center was finished in 1986. The Learning Resource Center was inaugurated in 1987 to accommodate the library, book center, audio-visual unit, and various offices. Fr. Carretero, S.J., obtained the PAASCU accreditation of the high school in 1975, the liberal arts and commerce in 1981, and education, nursing, and the grade school in 1982. AdZ attained Level III in the accreditation of these colleges, the highest rank given to tertiary schools in the Philippines at that time.

In 1984, girls were accepted for the first time in the grade school. Twenty-two girls were part of the grade six graduating class in 1992. They became the first batch of girls to study at the Ateneo High School in 1992.

Presidency of Father Kreutz

Ateneo de Zamboanga University

Fr. Carretero, S.J., and after 1989 Fr. William H. Kreutz, S.J., Ateneo presidents, sought university status for the school. By this time and into the mid-90s the school had added undergraduate programs including accountancy, arts and sciences, business management, and computer science.

In 1994, a group of Zamboanga-based doctors entered into a consortium with the Ateneo de Zamboanga under Fr. Kreutz’s presidency to establish a medical school named Zamboanga Medical School Foundation (ZMSF). It was located in the La Purisima campus. In 2004, ZMSF was turned over to Ateneo. The medical school became the Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine. Partnering with the universities of Calgary, Laos, Nepal, and Cambodia, the School of Medicine utilizes the problem-based learning and community-based approach to medical practice with emphasis on serving communities in Western Mindanao.

University status

On August 20, 2001, AdZ was officially declared a university by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). In the same year it was granted autonomous status by CHED, making Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) one of only thirty higher education institutions in the Philippines, and the only one in Western Mindanao, to be granted full deregulation and autonomy. The new College building and the Multi-Purpose Covered Courts were inaugurated in 2001.

New Campus in Tumaga

On July 31, 2005, groundbreaking was held for the new high school building in Savanah, Tumaga, Zamboanga City. Fr. Kreutz’s 18-year presidency came to a close together with the completion of the new campus in Tumaga, which was later named Fr. William H. Kreutz, S.J., campus. The high school was transferred to this new site in 2006 for school year 2006–2007.

Presidency of Fr. Moreno (2006-2013)

In October 11, 2006, Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J., was elected as the second president of the University, replacing Fr. William H. Kreutz, S.J. He assumed office on May 21, 2007, and was officially installed on September 22, 2007.

Meanwhile, AdZU and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan launched the Xavier University College of Law – Zamboanga on 25 June 2011. The College of Law is located in a new four-storey building named in honor of Fr. Manuel Ma. Sauras, S.J. Sauras Hall is also home to the new university cafeteria.

The school's Sacred Heart chapel, built in 1961, was replaced after 50 years by a new Spanish- colonial University Church of the Sacred Heart in time for the University's centennial in 2012.

Presidency of Fr. San Juan (2013-present)

When in 2013 Fr. Moreno became Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, the University Board of Trustees elected Fr. Karel S. San Juan, S.J., as its third president, on February 23, 2013. As Fr. San Juan was in his final year of Jesuit spiritual formation, he did not assume the presidency until October 8, 2013.

Groundbreaking for a new grade school building at the Tumaga campus was held on July 30, 2013, and the new school was opened on June 13, 2015. Future plans for this campus include construction of an auditorium, an amphitheater, sports facilities, and a chapel which will replace the chapel in the high school building.[2][3]


AdZU operates two campuses. The main campus (4.3 hectares) on La Purisima Street, named for Fr. Eusebio Salvador, S.J., houses the undergraduate and graduate schools and the senior high school, while the new campus (8.3 hectares) in Barangay Tumaga, which is outside Zamboanga City proper, named for Fr. William Kreutz, S.J., is home to the junior high school and grade school.

University image


The Ateneo de Zamboanga University seal reflects the mission of the school.

Surrounding the upper half of the seal is the school motto: "PRO DEO ET PATRIA"—IN THE SERVICE OF GOD AND COUNTRY. The school's mission is to produce men and women for others, men and women for the service of God and country. And on the bottom, surrounding the seal, is the name of the school, the ATENEO DE ZAMBOANGA which was founded in 1912.

In the circular field is the shield. The red and yellow stripes are derived from the coat of arms of the family of Oñaz, the maternal line of St. Ignatius. In the center are two wolves and a food pot. These are of the medallion of the family of Loyola, the paternal line of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This medallion stands for the generosity for which the house of Loyola was well known. The cross on the upper right portion of the shield symbolizes the Christian character of the Ateneo, while the vinta indicates the various cultural communities of the South Western Philippines where the school is located. On the bottom left are the book and torch, traditional symbols of education.

Above the shield is the glorious sunburst, the monogram of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) – JHS with the cross above and three nails below. The "JHS" are from the Greek ΙἨΣ, the first letters of Jesus' name. Emanating from the name of Jesus are blue and white rays signifying grace for all.


The name Ateneo is the Spanish form of Athenæum, which the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities defines as the name of "the first educational institution in Rome" where "rhetoricians and poets held their recitations." Hadrian’s school drew its name from a Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The said temple, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, was where "poets and men of learning were accustomed to meet and read their productions." Athenæum is also used in reference to schools and literary clubs. The closest English translation is academy, referring to institutions of secondary learning.

The Ateneo de Davao is not the only Jesuit school that the Jesuits named Ateneo. The Society of Jesus in the Philippines has established sixteen schools all over the Philippines since 1590 and named nine of them Ateneo. Ateneo de Zamboanga was the second school named Ateneo.


The college varsity teams, men and women, compete in the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) and the high school varsity teams, boys and girls, participate in the Private Schools of Zamboanga City Athletic Association (PSZAA).

Ateneo holds a school-wide annual sportsfest called "Ateneo Fiesta", a week-long event beginning in the last week of November. Most competitors, high school and college, are varsity athletes preparing for competition in sports events on the PRISAA agenda.


After receiving a five-year Level III Accreditation for the Arts and Sciences, Education, Business and Accountancy, and Nursing programs in May 2014, AdZU requested Institutional Accreditation, an evaluation process that looks at the overall quality of the school. On September 2014, the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) granted Institutional Accreditation to Ateneo de Zamboanga. In August 2015 the junior high school awaited an upgrade from Level II status to Level III status from PAASCU accreditors.

Student councils & publications

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Ateneo de Zamboanga University (SMADZU) was its student government prior to 2009. In its place is El Consejo Atenista, a more representative student government.[4] The junior high school student government is called the Council of Leaders.

Official student publications are The Beacon Magazine for the college, The Blue Eagle Publications and La Liga Atenista for the high school, and The Quill for the grade school.

See also

Coordinates: 6°54′37.4″N 122°4′31.66″E / 6.910389°N 122.0754611°E / 6.910389; 122.0754611


  1. The History of ADZU, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, retrieved 2009-05-15
  2. Adzu Campus La purisima, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, archived from the original on 2009-04-29, retrieved 2009-05-15
  3. AdZU Tumaga Campus, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, archived from the original on 2009-05-05, retrieved 2009-05-15
  4. The Beacon Magazine of CSIT, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, archived from the original on 2009-12-11, retrieved 2009-05-15

External links

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