After Fr. Dan Ross, S.J., of FuJen University organized the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU) in 1994, Fr. Ismael Zuloaga, then President of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia and Oceania (JCEAO), asked him to be Secretary for Higher Education of the JCEAO and to use his position to bring the Jesuit university presidents of East Asia and Oceania together.
He accepted the mission. On August 30, 1994, he brought together the Presidents of Sophia, Sogang , Sanata Dharma, and the Ateneo de Manila universities in the office of Fr. Zuloaga in Manila.
With Presidents coming and going till about 2002, “bringing university presidents together” entailed meeting a new President, whenever one would be appointed or elected, and helping him get involved in the association. Much of this was carried out by email.
Originally things worked very informally. The annual meetings, always organized by Fr. Ross, occasioned rich sharing among the Presidents – and whomever else they would invite to participate. Presidents got to know each other, be comfortable in one another’s presence, and learned how their experiences in leadership were similar to but different from the experiences of others. But not much happened between the meetings.
It was at an extraordinary meeting of the group in FuJen University in 2000 to prepare for the 2001 Worldwide Meeting of Jesuit University Presidents Monte Cucco in Rome that mention was first made of the possibility of a more formal organization. Fr. Charles Currie, S.J., President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) in the USA, was present. Fr. Ross suggested the name, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in East Asia and Oceania (AJCU-EAO) for the Jesuit higher-education association in this region. The group went along with the idea. Slowly, the formalization of the association grew.
The first AJCU-EAO Constitution and ByLaws were approved during the 2002 General Assembly in Perth, Australia. As JCEAO Secretary for Higher Education, Fr. Ross was the CEO of the association.
When the International Committee on Jesuit Higher Education (ICJE) of the Society of Jesus was organized in Rome, Fr. Ross also represented the AJCU-EAO schools. Similarly, he represented the AJCU-EAO during the regular December meetings of the Major Superiors and the JCEAO President of the Society of Jesus.
In 2003, Fr. Joel Tabora of the Ateneo de Naga began chairing the meetings in FuJen University in Taiwan.
The AJCU-EAO Constitutions and ByLaws were revised and ratified after the General Assembly in Seoul in 2006 in order to preserve the camaraderie and friendship that had developed over the years among many Presidents, but also place the responsibility for the association in heads of the higher-education institutions or endeavors. The text of the Constitution and Bylaws was streamlined; the executive responsibilities for the association passed from the JCEAO Secretary for Higher Education to the chair of the board. The chair was to be elected from among the CEOs of the AJCU-EAO.
During the 2010 Annual Meeting held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the name was changed from Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities – East Asia and Oceania (AJCU-EAO) to Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities – Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP) aligning itself with the Jesuit Conference in Asia Pacific (JCAP). During that same meeting, four consortia were approved to focus on regional researches in line with the address of Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas, SJ “Depth, Universality and Learned Ministry: Challenges to Jesuit Higher Education Today.” These consortia are the following:
- Atheism, Secularism, Fundamentalism and Inter-Religious Dialogue
- Headed by Sanata Dharma University
- Members are: Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Loyola School of Theology, Sogang University and Sophia University
- Faith and Culture
- Headed by Sogang University
- Members are: Elisabeth University of Music, Ateneo de Naga University, Loyola School of Theology, Sophia University and Ateneo de Manila University
- Poverty Migration and Injustice
- Headed by Ateneo de Manila University
- Members are Frank Brennan of the Intellectual Apostolate, Loyola College of Culion, Xavier University, Sanata Dharma University, ATMI Surakarta Polytechnic and Sogang University
- Environment and Climate Change
- Headed by Sophia University
- Members are Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Naga University, Sanata Dharma University, ATMI Surakarta Polytechnic and Xavier University
Current chair is Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., of the Ateneo de Davao University; Vice Chair is Fr. Paulus Wiryono Priyotamtama of Sanata Dharma University.