Fr. Roberto Chan Yap SJ, the class valedictorian of Sacred Heart School for Boys batch 1975, assumes office as President of Ateneo de Manila University on August 1, 2020. Yap now becomes the institution’s 31st president.
Fr Bobby, as he is known, was most recently president of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo), leading the Jesuit institution for 9 years (2011-2020).
As the 6 August 2019 announcement from the Board of Trustees said: “As president of Xavier Ateneo, Fr Bobby presided over the active engagement of the University in recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong, which included the building of a community of 500 houses at Xavier Ecoville. Under his watch, XU has also been active in the rehabilitation of Marawi, the achievement of the highest levels of accreditation for its college, junior high, and grade school programs, the integration of its service learning programs, and the building of the Xavier Ateneo Sports Centre and new senior high campus.”
He holds a PhD in Environmental Economics from University College London; an MA in Economics from New School for Social Research, New York; a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University; and an MA in Theology and Bachelor in Sacred Theology (summa cum laude) from the Loyola School of Theology.
Yap is no stranger to Ateneo de Manila. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Economics (cum laude) here in 1980; taught at the Ateneo High School (1980-1982); and has been an assistant professor at the Department of Economics (currently on leave) since 2002.
His past ministries include being Province Treasurer; Province Assistant for the Social Apostolate, and Associate Director of the John J Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues.
He was born in Cebu on May 16, 1959 and graduated from Sacred Heart School for Boys in 1975. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1982, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1992.
Yap was selected to succeed Fr Jose Ramon T Villarin as president last 3 August 2020 by the Board of Trustees, and was supposed to start his first term last 1 June 2020. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances brought by the pandemic, Villarin’s term was extended for two more months, as was Yap’s term in Xavier Ateneo. Fr Mars P Tan SJ succeeded Yap in XU.
Yap is also the third Ateneo leader to come from Xavier Ateneo. Villarin, as well as Fr Bienvenido F Nebres SJ (Ateneo president 1993-2011) – two of his predecessors – were both XU presidents before becoming Ateneo de Manila president.
Details of his formal investiture will be announced in the future.
Photo credits: Christopher Chiu Yue & Tony del Prado