OP Archive: Fr Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ (President 2011-2020)

Father Jose Ramon Tizon Villarin, S.J., more commonly known as "Fr. Jett", is the Ateneo de Manila University’s 30th president, succeeding Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. He was elected last June 29, 2010 while he was serving as university president of Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan. Fr. Jett's first term as university president began on 1 June 2011. He was re-elected for two more terms, and his tenure ended 31 July 2020.

Official Biography as of 31 December 2012

Early life and education

Fr. Jett was born in Manila on 30 January 1960. He started formal education at Lourdes School in Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City and was introduced to Jesuit education when he entered Ateneo High School in 1972.

Fr. Jett took his undergraduate studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and in 1980 received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, graduating magna cum laude. He was also voted the class valedictorian.

As a Jesuit

A year after graduation, Fr. Jett entered the Society of Jesus in 1981.  His first two years in the Society was as a novice at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches. He returned to the Loyola Heights campus in 1983 to study in the Juniorate program of the Society, which offered studies in English and Filipino literature and composition.  After Juniorate, he completed his Philosophy studies in 1985.

He then did graduate work in the United States, receiving a Master of Science degree in Physics from Marquette University in 1987.  He came home to study at the Loyola School of Theology, where he received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree, summa cum laude, in 1991.  In the year following his priestly ordination in April 1991, he did campus ministry work at the Ateneo de Manila, while preparing for advanced studies in physics.  He left the country in 1992 to do his PhD studies in Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon completion of his doctorate in 1997, he came home to do research at the Manila Observatory and teach with the Physics Department of the Ateneo de Manila.

Fr. Jett took his final vows as a Jesuit in January 2005.

Fr. Jett the scientist

Fr. Jett served in various capacities throughout his career as a scientist.  While he was studying theology in the late 1980's, he was teaching and doing research at the Laser Laboratory of the Ateneo de Manila.  While he was a graduate research assistant at Georgia Tech, he did experimental fieldwork on urban air quality and theoretical studies on the global atmospheric circulation.

But it was the issue of global warming in the early 1990s, which ignited his academic interest and passion.  He was a Global Change scholar at Georgia Tech and while he was a PhD student, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) gave him an Outstanding Student Paper Award for what he presented at the AGU conference in San Francisco in 1995.  At the end of his studies, his work won for him the school's Best Graduate Student Research Award.

Fr. Jett was awarded National Outstanding Young Scientist in 2000 by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).  In 2001, he edited a book titled "Disturbing Climate" which was conferred the National Book Award (Sciences) by the Manila Critics Circle, the National Book Development Board, and later in 2002 by the NAST.

Because of his work on greenhouse gas emissions, Fr. Jett became part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a team of climate scientists that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore.

He is also an active member of several local and international environment and climate groups.  Internationally, he is lead reviewer of the UN Convention on Climate Change and has worked with UN Consultative Group of Experts for Developing Countries.  Nationally, he is part of the advisory board of the Climate Change Commission, among others.

As administrator

From 1997 to 2005, Fr Jett was head of the Climate Studies Division of the Manila Observatory.  In 2005, he became president of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, a position he held until he was appointed president of Ateneo de Manila University.

No stranger to the Ateneo de Manila University, Fr. Jett has been a member of its Board of Trustees since 2000. He also used to serve as trustee of the Ateneo de Davao and the Ateneo de Zamboanga Universities.  He is now a trustee of Ateneo de Naga University, Loyola School of Theology, MWSS, and the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation.  He also chairs the boards of the Manila Observatory and Synergeia Foundation.

Fr. Jett writes a column (“God’s Word Today”) with other Jesuits for the Philippine Star.

Xavier Hall University Seal
Investiture Speech, 8 September 2011
JTV Arete
A Thank You Note from Fr Jett, 31 July 2020