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Ivan Franko National
University of Lviv
Львівський національний університет імені Івана Франка
University Lviv 2009 1.JPG
Latin: Universitas Leopoliensis
Established 1661
Type Public university
President Ivan Vakarchuk
Students ~12,000
Location Lviv, Ukraine
Specialty programs 111
Colors blue and gold

The Lviv University (Ukrainian: Львівський університет, Polish: Uniwersytet lwowski) or officially the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukrainian: Львівський національний університет імені Івана Франка) was founded in 1661 and is the oldest continuously operating university in Ukraine. It is located in the historic city of Lviv in Lviv Oblast of western Ukraine.

Lviv University was ranked 2223th in the world (and 4th in Ukraine) by the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities in July, 2009.[1]





The University was founded on January 20, 1661 when the King John II Casimir of Poland issued the diploma granting the city's Jesuit Collegium, founded in 1608, "the honour of the Academy and the title of the University". The Jesuits had tried to create the University earlier, in 1589, but did not succeed. Establishing another college in Poland was seen as a threat by authorities of Kraków's Jagiellonian University, who did not want a rival and for many years managed to halt plans of the Jesuits.

King John II Casimir was a sympathizer of the Jesuits and his stance was crucial. The royal diploma was confirmed by another act issued in Częstochowa on February 5, 1661. Creation of the school was also stipulated by the Treaty of Hadiach. One of its articles stated that a Ruthenian academy was to be created in Kiev and another one should be created in an unspecified location, most likely in Lviv, which was an important center of the Greek Catholic church.

The Jesuit Collegium existed until 1758, when King Augustus III issued a decree, which described the Collegium as an Academic School, with two departments - theology and philosophy.

Under Austrian rule

In 1772 Lviv was annexed by Austria (see: Partitions of Poland) and the Society of Jesus was dissolved by the government in Vienna. The school was renamed into Theresianum, i.e. State Academy. Twelve years later, Emperor Joseph II officially granted it a university status, with four departments - theology, philosophy, law and medicine. Most professors of the University were German or Germanized members of nations of the Empire. Latin was the official language of the school, Polish and Ukrainian were permitted only in certain cases.

In 1805 the University was closed, as Austria, involved in the Napoleonic wars, did not have sufficient funds to support it. Instead, a high school was established. The school was reopened in 1817, officially Vienna described it as an act of mercy, but reasons were different. The Austrians were well-aware of the pro-Polish policies of Russian Emperor Alexander I and they decided to counterbalance it. However, quality of education was not high, in the course of time Latin was replaced by German and most professors were mediocre. The few good ones regarded their stay in Lviv as a springboard to further career.

In 1848, when pan-European revolution reached Lviv (see: Revolutions of 1848), students of the University created two organizations - Academic Legion and Academic Committee, demanding that the school should be polonized. The government in Vienna answered by force, when on November 2, 1848, center of the city was bombed by troops of General Hammersteina. Buildings of the University suffered the most, especially the library. Soon afterwards, curfew was established and the University closed.

The school was reopened in January 1850, with limited autonomy. After a few years the Austrians relented and on July 4, 1871 Vienna declared that Polish and Ruthenian languages became official at the University. Eight years later this was changed. The Austrians, knowing that number of Polish students and professors exceeded the Ruthenians, declared Polish as official and Ruthenian and German as auxiliary. Examinations in two latter languages were possible as long as the professors spoke them. This bill created unrest among the Ruthenians, who were demanding equal rights. Finally, a Ruthenian student of department of philosophy, Miroslaw Siczynski murdered in 1908 the Polish governor of Galicia, Andrzej Potocki. After this event, both Poles and Ruthenians came to the conclusion that a separate, Ruthenian university should be created, but the lack of professors nipped these plans in the bud.

Meanwhile the Lviv University was thriving, becoming one of two existing Polish language colleges (the other one was the Jagiellonian University in Kraków). Its professors were famous across Europe, with such renowned names as Wladyslaw Abraham, Oswald Balzer, Szymon Askenazy, Stanislaw Zakrzewski, Zygmunt Janiszewski, Kazimierz Twardowski, Benedykt Dybowski, Marian Smoluchowski and Ludwik Rydygier.

Jan Kazimierz University 1919-1939

The main building of Lviv University was constructed as the Diet of Galicia

From 1919 until September 1939, in the Polish Second Republic era, the university was known as John Casimir University (Polish: Uniwersytet Jana Kazimierza) in honor of its founder. The decision to name the school after the king was taken by the government of Poland on November 22, 1919.

The Jan Kazimierz University was the third biggest academic center of the country (after the universities in Warsaw and Kraków). On February 26, 1920, the University received from the Polish government the building formerly used by the Galician parliament, which has since been the university's main edifice. Its first rector in the Second Polish Republic was the famous poet Jan Kasprowicz.

In 1924 the Philosophy Department was divided into Humanistic and Mathematical-Biological Departments, thus there were five departments:

  • Theological - 222 students in the academic year 1934/35,
  • Law - 2978 students in the academic year 1934/35,
  • Medicinal - 638 students in the academic year 1934/35 (together with the Pharmaceutical Section, which had 263 students in the academic year 1934/35),
  • Humanistic - 892 students in the academic year 1934/35,
  • Mathematical-Biological - 870 students in the academic year 1934/35.

Altogether, in the academic year 1934/35 there were 5900 students at the University, among which:

  • 3793 were Roman-Catholic,
  • 1211 were Jewish
  • 739 were Greek-Catolic,
  • 72 were Orthodox
  • 67 were Protestant.

Ukrainian professors were required to take a formal oath of allegiance to Poland; most of them refused and left the university in early 1920s.

Ivan Franko University

In 1939, after the Polish September Campaign and the accompanying Soviet invasion, Soviet occupants allowed classes to continue. Until late 1939, the school worked in the pre-war, Polish system. On October 18, Polish rector, professor Roman Longchamps de Bérier was dismissed, and replaced by a prominent Ukrainian historian Mykhailo Marchenko, grandfather of Ukrainian journalist and dissident Valeriy Marchenko. Marchenko was determined to transform the University of Lwow into the Ukrainian National University.[2] On January 8, 1940, the University was renamed Ivan Franko Lviv State University.[2] Polish professors and administrative assistants were increasingly fired and replaced by Ukrainians or Russians, specializing in Marxism, Leninism, political economics, as well as Ukrainian and Soviet literature, history and geography.[2] This was accompanied by the closing of departments seeing as related with the religion, free-market economics, capitalism, or the West in general; this included Polish geography, literature, or history.[2] Lectures were held in Ukrainian and Polish (as auxiliary). In the period 1939-1941 the Soviets also executed over a dozen members of the Polish faculty.[2]

In July 1941 German occupiers closed the University, nearly at the same time massacring two dozen Polish professors (as well as members of their households and guests, increasing the total number of victims to above forty), who included members of other academic institutions, too.[2] The extent to which Ukrainian nationalists may have been involved in identifying and selecting some of the victims is still a matter of debate, as Polish historian Adam Radzik wrote, while the Ukrainian nationalist students helped prepare lists of Polish intellectuals, it is unlikely they expected or knew about their intended purposes (i.e., the executions).[2]

In the summer of 1944, advancing Red Army, strongly assisted by Polish Home Army forces locally implementing Operation Burza, pushed the Wehrmacht out of Lviv and the University was reopened. At first, its academic staff consisted of Poles, but within the following months most of them, together with the Polish population of the city, were "evacuated", in reality expelled, to Poland as the country's borders have been moved to the west. In Poland, traditions of the Jan Kazimierz University have been preserved at the University of Wrocław.


  • Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Informatics ([2])
  • Faculty of International Relations ([3])
  • Faculty of Biology ([4])
  • Faculty of Journalism ([5])
  • Faculty of Chemistry ([6])
  • Faculty of Law ([7])
  • Faculty of Economics ([8])
  • Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics ([9])
  • Faculty of Electronics ([10])
  • Faculty of Philology ([11])
  • Faculty of Foreign Languages ([12])
  • Faculty of Philosophy ([13])
  • Faculty of Geography ([14])
  • Faculty of Physics ([15])
  • Faculty of Geology ([16])
  • Faculty of Preuniversity Training ([17])
  • Faculty of History ([18])
  • Department of Pedagogy ([19])

Research divisions and facilities

  • Scientific Research Department ([20])
  • Zoological museum ([21])
  • University Library ([22])
  • Journal of Physical Studies ([23])
  • The Institute of Archaeology ([24])
  • Ukrainian journal of computational linguistics ([25])
  • Media Ecology Institute ([26])
  • Modern Ukraine ([27])
  • Institute for Historical Research ([28])
  • Reginal Agency for Sustainable Development ([29])
  • Botanical Garden ([30])
  • NATO Winter Academy in Lviv ([31])
  • Scientific technical & educational center of low temperature studies ([32])

Notable alumni

Notable professors



  1. ^ [1] Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, Cybermetrics Lab, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain. Retrieved on December 3, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Adam Redzik, Polish Universities During the Second World War, Encuentros de Historia Comparada Hispano-Polaca / Spotkania poświęcone historii porównawczej hiszpańsko-polskiej conference, 2004

See also

External links


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