The 29th ASEACCU Annual Conference was successfully held from Aug 21st to Aug 26th, 2023, in Baguio City, Philippines. Co-organised by the University of Saint Joseph, Macao (USJ) as the ASEACCU Secretariat and this year’s host institution, Saint Louis University (SLU), the Conference was attended by over 200 faculty, staff and students across member and non-member institutions from Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Macao, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
The conference serves as a crucial platform for the ASEACCU community to engage in international educational dialog through shared lectures, open forums, cultural exchanges and performances as well as local exposure site visits to Baguio City’s Banangan Women’s Association, the scenic Mount Costa, and Mirador Heritage and Eco-Spirituality Park.
The Conference was kicked off with welcome messages from Saint Louis University President, Rev. Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, CICM, the ASEACCU Executive Secretary, Rector of University of Saint Joseph Macao, Rev. Prof. Stephen Morgan and had the presence of distinguished guests including Hon. Benjamin Magalong, the City Mayor of Baguio; Rev. Fr. Roland P. Buyagan, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Baguio, and J. Prospero E. De Vera III, DPA, Chair of Philippine Commission on Higher Education.
Keynote presentation from François Mabille, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), on “IFCU, A Global Tool for the Care of our Common Home” brings on critical perspectives from the IFCU to the overarching theme of this year’s conference. Joining him as speakers in the programme include Mr. Rodne R. Galicha, Executive Director of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines; Architect Donna R. Tabangin, Officer of Baguio City; Dr. Montserrat Alom, Director of International Centre for Research and Decision Support (CIRAD); Fr. Stephan Rothlin, Director of Macau Ricci Institute; Most Rev. Gerardo Alminaza, Bishop of San Carlos, Diocese of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; Rev. Fr. Aloysius Ma. A. Maranan, O.S.B., Rector-President of San Beda University; Mr. Quintin Pastrana, President of Energy Power Pilipinas; Asst. Prof. Nestor R. Ong, MSIE, PIE, ASEAN Engr., Deputy Director at the Office of QS/THE Rankings, University of Santo Tomas; Dr. Stephenie O. Busbus, Chair, Institutional Reputation and Effectiveness Committee, SLU; Dr. Karen Tagulao, Programme Coordinator for the Bachelor of Environmental Sciences at University Of Saint Joseph Macao; Dr. Stephenie O. Busbus, Chair of Institutional Reputation and Effectiveness Committee at Saint Louis University; Ms. Mei Mei Lim, Director of Consultancy at Times Higher Education; Assoc. Prof. Richard Colledge, Interim Dean of Theology and Philosophy and Ms. Jacqui Reymond, Lecturer at School of Theology and Laudato Si’ Consultant at Australian Catholic University.
Beyond lectures and activities related to the Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Laudato Si’, and Sustainable Development Goals, the conference included networking opportunities for ASEACCU member Institutions to solidify new partnerships and signing of MOUs. Likewise, all student delegates had the opportunity to showcase their talents during the Student Night Cultural Performance.
On the morning of the fourth day, Aug 25, 2023, the ASEACCU Secretariat held the Executive Board Meeting, where Country Representative members at the Executive Board were nominated to serve the upcoming term of 2023 to 2026. New country representatives include Saint Louis University for the Philippines and Sanata Dharma University for Indonesia. The General Assembly followed the meeting with Member Institution representatives where the ASEACCU Executive Secretary reported on activities for the previous year and the Financial Report, which has been approved and welcomed the new Country Representatives and Executive Board members the newly admitted ASEACCU Members: Saint Mary’s University and the University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao.
Additionally, the theme for the 30th ASEACCU Annual Conference 2024 which will be hosted by the Australian Catholic University was announced during the General Assembly, and Providence University, Taiwan, was appointed the host of the 31st ASEACCU Annual Conference in 2025.
During the closing ceremony, Rev. Prof. Stephen Morgan, ASEACCU Executive Secretary, echoed the sentiment of the Conference delegates, sharing “we’ve had a remarkable week here: the things that we looked for when we came up this mountain, the voices we wanted to hear, the communion with God and with our fellow men, women, and children.” President of Saint Louis University, Rev. Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, CICM, also expressed in his reflections, “the care of our common home is our collective duty…what we have learned in this Conference are highly vital to planning, executing, and evaluating (sustainable) actions.”