With the constitution of its first Senate, the 30th of October 1979 marks the birth of the University of Cadiz (UCA), and so reaching the climax of a long process of reclamation of a university institution that would recuperate, for Cadiz and its province, the fruitful tradition of superior studies initiated and developed with the support of maritime and commercial activities in modern and contemporary times.
The historical background of superior studies in Cadiz go back to the XV century, with the creation of the College of the Pilots of the Sea of the East and West, under the brotherhood of the Vizcainos, whose studies of cosmography and mathematics achieved fame and prestige, as was certified by the Brief Treaty of the Sphere and art of Navigation, of Martin Cortes, formed in 1545 in Seville, and the Geometric Analysis of Antonio Hugo of Omerique – born in 1698- as an expression of the Nautical Chair that since 1682 existed in the College of Santiago of the Company of Jesus, founded in 1566.
With the motivated efforts of Jorge Juan, Luis Godín, Vicente Tofiño and others, the nautical studies reached unusual heights in the Academy of the Marine Guards, with the creation of the first Astronomic Observatory of Spain and the Literature Assembly, precedent of the Academy of Sciences.
As for the field of Humanities, the Chair of Latin Studies in the School of the Cathedral was occupied by the grammarian and erasmist Francisco de Támara. Also, in the convent of Saint Dominic of Cadiz, in 1681 studies in Grammar, Arts and Theology were established and spread to the laymen, reaching a prestigious position, for which in 1722 it rose to General Studies.
In 1748 the most important cultural institution ever in Cadiz was created. This was the Royal College of Surgery of the Army, whose masters were Virgili, Canivell, Nueve Iglesias, Roland. In this College the norm to sponsor the best students to continue their studies in the most prestigious centres abroad, was introduced. Thus the faculty, thanks to in revolutionary study plans, managed to realize two functions that were privative of universities, as was that of awarding titles of ‘Latin degrees' by the Royal Cédula of 1757, and that of teaching Medicine to the Surgery students (these were two distinct degrees in those times), through studies in all of Europe in Medicine exclusively in University faculties and Surgery in extra-university colleges. Finally the Regulations of the College of Cadiz, 1791, authorized it to concede titles of Doctor-Surgeons, a novelty that would be adopted later in all of Europe.
When in 1871, the Free Faculties, were authorized, the Local Council of Cadiz requested the constitution of the Faculty of Pharmacy, that was situated in the locations of the Faculty of Medicine and assigned with a wealthy laboratory, the most taken care of in those times, at the expense of the proper Local Council. Moreover, in October 1873, a School of Free Law was established, in No 17 of St Michael Street (Calle San Miguel), which in March of the following year achieved from the Local Council and the Provincial Delegation the prerequisites needed for the promotion to Faculty of Free Law, a project that couldn`t be achieved due to the Decree of the 29 of September of 1874 that cancelled these so called Free Faculties. Without a doubt, as College of Civil and Canon Law, it stayed so, at least until 1878, established in San Jose Street, No. 38.
Other traditional studies in Cadiz were those of Commerce. Though a Royal Order of 26 February of 1797, the Secretary of the State Mariano Luis de Urquijo passed on to the Royal Consulates of the Sea all the regulations to officialise the studies of Commerce, determining the need to elaborate and present plans for its approval. The most active and important of the Spanish Consulates in this moment , him of the city of Cadiz, acknowledged receipt of this on the following 8th of March. A day later, the consulate of Bilbao requested information from the Consulate of Cadiz about the plan of studies that he thought of adopting, that was sent to him on the 25th of November of the same year, with the plea that from the city of the Nervión this was remitted when it was formed.
With the gravity of the existing situation in the final years of the XVIII century, with reason of war with England, and the epidemic of the yellow fever, reason of suffering in Cadiz and its Bay at the start of the nineteenth century, practices in such studies were postponed. In July of 1803 the General Committee of the Governor of the Consulate of Cadiz was reunited and nominated a council for the acquisition of some buildings in the central street of San Francisco, cornering the old Customs Office, to give rise to the School of Commerce. On the 26th of September of the same year, the provision by contest in Cadiz of the two Chairs in Mathematics, was announced in the Official Gazette. These were endowed on the 2nd of May 1804 with an annual income of 12,000 reals of fleece, and they were occupied by Joaquín Riquelme and Mind Vallespiner, residents, at that time, in Madrid. This proper Consulate nominated two professors in languages, one of French and Tuscan and another of English. This same year was when activities of the first School of Commerce studies of Spain started.
The same year of 1804 the architect Pedro de Albisu-who had been a disciple of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and of notable activities in Cadiz and its bays in the moment- carried out the plans, views and profiles of a good building with an architecture very characteristic of Cadiz. Its sober and functional works, with no less than 264 feet of a front, was programmed with three bodies-the first with mezzanine and then concluded in airy cornice and a roof with petriles.
Following classical proportions, and rising up to twenty-one rods high, fixed by the strong Ordinances of the police of the city, the building of the School of Commerce presented an elegant and beautiful perspective. Whilst the building was being built, classes of commerce were carried out in the Academy of Fine Arts.
The consulate of Bilbao- who was the initiator of these studies in Spain- failed to gain approval for the Rules of the School of Commerce until the 9th of July of 1818, that he had presented to the Council of Castilla the previous year, inaugurating the studies the following 28 of December, fourteen years later than Cadiz.
The city of Cadiz was therefore granted the honour of being the initiator of Commercial studies in contemporary Spain. The University of Cadiz has had, since its creation in 1979, one president and four rectors. Felipe Garrido, Professor of surgery, was the President of the Managing Commission that proposed the constitution of the first Senate of the UCA, that on the 24th of February of 1984 chose Mariano Penalver Simo, Professor of Philosophy, as Rector, under whom the Statuses of the UCA were elaborated and approved on the 26th of December 1985.
On the 17th of June 1986 the second elections took place, after which the Rector José Luis Romero Palanco, Professor of Legal Medicine, was elected, and then re-elected on the 16th of October 1990. The third elections took place on December of 1994 after which Gulliermo Martinez Massanet, Professor of Organic Chemistry, was elected, and re-elected in the beginning of 1999. More recently, the last elections to become Rector of the University of Cádiz took place on June 7, 2001. These were called after Diego Sales' two consecutive mandates as head of the institution (May 2003-July 2011). Eduardo González Mazo, head professor of Physical Chemistry is now the new rector of the UCA, after taking possesion at the seat of the Andalusian Junta on July 12th.
During the last years a lot of work was done to face the ever rising demand for superior studies. The UCA has passed from having 6,000 students during the scholastic year 1979-1980 to almost 22,000 presently.
During this time and as a result of ambitious multi-annual programme, the UCA has undertaken in a decided way the necessary infrastructures to convert itself into a university of good quality. Since 1990 the following infrastructural projects were executed: the new Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, the Superior Andalucian Complex of Marine Studies, the Faculty of Economic and Business Studies, the Faculty if the Sciences of Work and the Aulario La Bomba, all these forming part of the Campus of Cadiz. Works for the building of services in the Faculty of Law, were also carried out and other works for the Campus of the Assumption in Jerez de la Frontera were started, as well as new service buildings- the library, research institutes and the Integrated Centre of Information Technology- in the Campus of Puerto Real , and the school of Health Sciences in the Campus of Algeciras.
In October of 2004, the new University Campus of Jerez was inaugurated, hosting all the centres which were previously scattered in this locality. In the Campus of Cadiz, the academic year 2005-2006, was started with the opening of a new building of Heath Sciences.
The new challenges faced by the UCA in the next decade are related with the new legislative framework derived from the approval of the LOU; the establishment of the number of students due to the demographic reduction, the activation of the new program of financing of the andalucian universities, that contemplate since years ago the introduction of programmes of evaluation of the quality of the qualifications given; the boom of new information technologies and communication and its adaptation to the education and, finally, last but not least, the permanent collaboration with its institutions and socioeconomic sectors of the province of Cadiz, to contribute to its development.
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