May 3, 1837: The University of Athens was founded

greek universities the university of athens, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, commonly known as the University of Athens, was founded in the Greek capital on May 3, 1837.

It has been continuously operating since its establishment in 1837. It is the oldest higher education institution of the modern Greek state and the first contemporary university in both the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Today it is one of the largest universities by enrollment in Europe, with over 69,000 registered students.

The University of Athens was founded on 3 May 1837 by King Otto of Greece (in Greek, Óthon) and was named in his honour Othonian University (Οθώνειον Πανεπιστήμιον). It was the first university in the liberated Greek state and in the surrounding area of Southeast Europe as well.

the university of athens, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

It was also the second academic institution after the Ionian Academy. This fledgling university consisted of four faculties: theology, Law, Medicine, and Arts (which included applied sciences and mathematics).

During its first year of operation, the institution was staffed by 33 professors, while courses were attended by 52 students and 75 non-matriculated "auditors".

It was first housed in the residence of architects Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert on the north slope of the Acropolis in Plaka, which now houses the museum of the university.

In November 1841, the university relocated to the Central Building of the University of Athens, a building designed by Danish architect Christian Hansen.

He followed a neoclassical approach, "combining the monument's magnificence with a human-scale simplicity," and gave the building its H-shape.

The building was decorated by painter Carl Rahl, forming the famous "architectural trilogy of Athens", together with the building of the National Library of Greece (left of the university) and the building of the Athens Academy (right of the university).

Construction began in 1839 in a location to the north of the Acropolis.

Its front wing, also known as the Propylaea, was completed in 1842–1843. The rest of the wings' construction, which was supervised at first by Greek architect Lysandros Kaftantzoglou and later by his colleague Anastasios Theofilas, was completed in 1864.

The building is nowadays part of what is called the "Athenian Neoclassical Trilogy".

The historian and professor Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos, founder of the modern Greek historiography, was elected rector of the University of Athens in 1872.

The Othonian University was renamed to National University (Εθνικόν Πανεπιστήμιον) in 1862, following events that forced King Otto to leave the country.

the university of athens, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
University of Athens

A major change in the university's structure occurred in 1904, when the faculty of Arts was divided into two separate faculties: the faculty of Arts and the faculty of Sciences, the latter consisting of the departments of Physics and Mathematics and the School of Pharmacy.

In 1919, a department of chemistry was added, and in 1922 the School of Pharmacy was renamed a department. A further change came about when the School of Dentistry was added to the faculty of medicine.

Between 1895 and 1911, an average of 1,000 new students matriculated each year, a number which increased to 2,000 at the end of World War I. This resulted in the decision to introduce entrance examinations for all the faculties, beginning for the academic year 1927–28.

Since 1954, the Ministry of Education and Religion has fixed the number of students admitted each year on the proposal of the faculties.

Modern history

The University Club building was founded in 1930. Today the building houses the Health Services Office, the Meals Department, the University Club reading rooms, and the Students Cultural Association (POFPA).

From 1911 until 1932, the university was separated into the Kapodistrian University (the humanities departments, named after Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of the independent modern Greek state) and the National University (the science departments).

In 1932, the two separate legal entities were merged into the "National and Kapodistrian University of Athens."

Construction began in the 1960s on the University Campus in the suburb of Ilissia, which houses the Schools of Philosophy, Theology, and Sciences.

In 2013, the University Senate made the decision to suspend all operations in the wake of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs cutting 1,655 administrative jobs from universities around the country.

In a statement, the University Senate said that "any educational, research and administrative operation of the University of Athens is objectively impossible".

READ MORE: How the ancient Greeks proved Earth was round over 2,000 years ago (VIDEO)

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