With the constitution of its first Senate, the 30th of October 1979 marks the birth of the University of Cádiz (UCA), reaching the climax of a long process of demanding a university institution that would recuperate, the fruitful tradition of superior studies initiated and developed with the support of maritime and commercial activities in modern and contemporary times for Cádiz and its province.
The historical background of superior studies in Cádiz go back to the 15th 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 cosmography and mathematics studies achieved fame and prestige, as was certified by the Martín Cortés’ Brief Treaty of the Sphere and art of Navigation, 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 efforts of Jorge Juan, Luis Godín, Vicente Tofiño and others, 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 Cádiz, 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 Cádiz was created. This was the Royal College of Surgery of the Army, whose masters were Virgili, Canivell, Nueve Iglesias, Roland… The regulation of giving a grant to the best students was introduced in order to keep studying in the most prestigious centres abroad.
When in 1871, the Free Faculties were authorised, the Local Council of Cádiz requested the constitution of the Faculty of Pharmacy, situated in the Faculty of Medicine locations and provided with a latest technology laboratory back then 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 achieved the Provincial Delegation prerequisites to promote to Faculty of Free Law in March of the following year. This project couldn’t be achieved due to the Decree of the 29th September of 1874, cancelling these Free Faculties. However, it remained as College of Civil and Canon Law at least until 1878, localised in No. 38 of St Jose Street (Calle San José).
Commercial studies were traditional in Cádiz also. Through a Royal Order of 26th February 1797, the Secretary of the State Mariano Luis de Urquijo transmitted to the Royal Consulates of the Sea all the regulations to officialise Commercial studies, determining the need of elaborating and presenting plans for its approval. The Consulate of Cádiz, being the most active and remarkable at the moment, acknowledged receipt of this on the following 8th of March. A day later, the Consulate of Bilbao requested information to the Consulate of Cádiz about the plan of studies they thought of adopting, which was sent the 25th November of that same year with the petition of receiving the one from the city of Nervión would sent theirs once it was done.
The implementation of these studies was delayed because of the war with England and the yellow fever suffered by Cádiz and its bay at the beginning of the 19th century. In July of 1803 the General Committee of the Governor of the Consulate of Cádiz was reunited and designated a council for the acquisition of some buildings in St. Francisco Street (Calle San Francisco) where the School of Commerce would be raised. On the 26th September of the same year, the provision by contest in Cádiz of the two Chairs in Mathematics was announced in the Official Gazette. These were endowed on the 2nd May 1804 with an annual income of 12,000 reals of fleece, and they were occupied by Joaquín Riquelme and Magín Vallespiner, residents in Madrid at that time. This proper Consulate designed 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 Cádiz and its bays in the moment carried out the plans, views and profiles of a good building with an architecture very characteristic of Cádiz. His restrained and functional factory, with no less than 264 feet of façade, was programmed with three bodies -the first with mezzanine- concluding in an airy cornice and a roof with parapets.
Following classical proportions, and rising up to twenty-one rods high, determinated 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, which initiated these studies in Spain, didn’t get the approval for the Rules of the School of Commerce until the 9th July of 1818, presented to the Council of Castilla the previous year, inaugurating the studies the following 28th of December, fourteen years later than Cádiz.
The city of Cádiz was therefore granted the honour of being the initiator of Commercial studies in the contemporary Spain. The University of Cádiz 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, which on the 24th of February of 1984 chose Mariano Penalver Simo, Professor of Philosophy, as Rector, under whom the Statutes of the UCA were elaborated and approved on the 26th of December 1985.
The second elections took place the 17th of June 1986, being elected the Rector José Luis Romero Palanco, Professor of Legal Medicine, and then re-elected on the 16th of October 1990. The third elections took place on December of 1994 after which Guillermo Martinez Massanet, Professor of Organic Chemistry, was elected, and re- elected in the beginning of 1999. More recently, the last elections to Rector of the University of Cádiz took place on June 7th 2001. These were called after Diego Sales' two consecutive mandates as head of the institution (May 2003-July 2011). Eduardo González Mazo, professor of Physical Chemistry is now the new rector of the UCA, after being inaugurated in the Presidency of the Andalusian Regional Government headquarters on July 12th.
In the recent years the institution has work hard to face the rising demand for superior studies. During the academic year 1979-1980, the UCA had 6.000 students. Currently, we have around 22.000 students.
During this time and as a result of an ambitious multi-annual programme, the UCA has undertaken in a decided way the necessary infrastructures to convert itself into a university quality. Since 1990 the following infrastructural projects were executed: the new Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, the Superior Andalusian 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 Cádiz. The refurbishment of the Faculty of Law’s service building and the constructions of new buildings for the Campus of Jerez were carried out, such as new service buildings: the library, research institutes and the Integrated Centre of Information Technology located in the Campus of Puerto Real, and the School of Health Sciences in the Campus of Algeciras.
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 2004, the new University Campus of Jerez was inaugurated, hosting all the centres which were previously distributed in this city. The academic year 2005-2006 started with the opening of a new building of Heath Sciences in the Campus of Cádiz.
The future 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 Andalusian university financial program, which contemplates the introduction of quality evaluation programs of degrees since a few years ago, the irruption of new information and communication technologies and their adaptation to the education, and finally, the permanent collaboration with institutions and socioeconomic sectors from the province of Cádiz, to contribute to its development.
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