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Foundation and institutionalisation of the University of Craiova

The steps to found a university in the heart of Oltenia have been materialized by the publication of Law 138 for the establishment of the University of Craiova and its ephors” in the Official Bulletin of The Romanian Kingdom (25 April 1947).

Despite legal provisions, the University of Craiova functioned initially only through the Faculty of Agronomy (specialisation – Land improvement and engineering), while the other faculties could not organise courses (during the 1947 – 1948 academic year and the following years).

The “Ephors” of the University of Craiova were responsible for ensuring the administrative conditions, playing an important role in providing the necessary equipment, organising and remunerating the teaching staff. They also took the responsibility to arrange a student hostel accommodating 120 people, within the Minerva hotel, as well as a canteen in the basement of the building from 27 Libertatii Str., accommodating 100 people. 

In accordance with Article 6 of Law 137/1947, the Ministry of Education appointed, in November, the first temporary Academic Council of the Faculty of Agronomy, made up by:

  • Professor Ilie Murgulescu – Rector of the Polytechnic Institute of Timisoara;
  • Professor Gherasim Constantinescu – Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy of Timisoara;
  • Professor Gheorghe Bontea – Faculty of Agronomy of Bucharest;

  • Professor Constantin Cilcineanu – from the Faculty of Agronomy in Cluj;
  • Professor Pompiliu Nicolau –the Polytechnic Institute of Timisoara (who was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy of Craiova).

Subsequent to the meetings of the Academic Council in 12 and 13 December 1947 (in which Ministers Traian Savulescu, Stefan Voitec and Gheorghe Vasilichi took part), the curricula, specializations and departments of the Faculty of Agronomy were established. The first entrance examination took place in the autumn of 1947 for the academic year 1947-1948, to which 670 young people applied (540 coming from the Oltenia region) competing for 200 places. 85% of those who were admitted came from Oltenia region, 11.5% from Muntenia and the rest came from other regions of Romania.

One of the objectives of the reform in education (started in August 1948) regarded the diversification of the agronomical studies by establishing agronomy faculties. In 1948, the higher education system in Craiova was re-organized and the Institute of Agronomy was founded, comprising two faculties: the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Agricultural Machines (which later became the Faculty of Agriculture Mechanisation).

 

The Development of the Institute of Agronomy between 1948-1962 involved the establishment of new departments and specialisations (Agriculture and Pedology, Plant Growing, Zootehny, Organisation of State-Owned Entreprises, Phytology, Vegetal Chemistry and physico-mathematics, mechanical engineering, tractors, agricultural machines, repairs, etc). At the same time, the number of students raised from 362, in the academic year1948-1949, to 1,088, in the year 1957-1958 and the infrastructure deveoped (laboratories, workshops, research centres).

The Agronomical Institute combined students’ theoretical and practical training by involving them in direct agricultural activities, which was possible due to the existence of the Research Farm and other centres. The former was endowed with an area of 302 hectares of land, located in the village of Cotofeni, 20 km away from Craiova. In 1956, the Institute was granted another piece of land of 879 ha. in Simnic (located 3 km away from Craiova). By the end of the same year, the research farm had administered the two plots (together with the related estate) being named “The research Farm of Simnic-Cotofeni” and became the place where students carried out their practical activities. The research base of the Institute was organised by the research centres of Tamburesti and Ranca, more particularly between 1948-1962, to which the Botanical Garden was added in 1953.

The year of 1962 hallmarked a new stage in the history of the Institute of Agronomy of Craiova, when the Faculty of Agriculture Mechanisation of Craiova was transferred to the Polytechnic Institute of Timisoara, and the Faculty of Horticulture was founded. Therefore, the Agronomy Institute of Craiova functioned until 1966 through two faculties: Agriculture and Horticulture. Between 1948 and 1958, the Institute of Agronomy comprised 14 departments and 56 specialisations, employing a highly competitive teaching staff, which founded the agricultural scientific research in Craiova and the professional training of agronomical engineers in the Oltenia region (1,482 agronomical engineers had graduated by 1966).

 

The Faculty of Horticulture functioned in the academic year 1962-1963 having two-year programmes, with 114 students being admitted in the first year, whereas 76 students were enrolled in the second year, who were transferred from the Faculty of Agriculture of Craiova and from the Faculty of Horticulture of the Institute of Agronomy Nicolae Balcescu of Bucharest.

The initial curriculum contained theoretical courses, laboratory and field work, seminars and field management internships, to which study trips were added later on.

It is worth mentioning that among the students of the Faculty of Horticulture there were many young people coming from other historical provinces of Romania, especially from Banat, Crisana and Transilvania. In 1966, 66 students graduated from the faculty, being the first cohort to graduate this faculty.

Concurrently with social and economic transformations, the higher education institution of Craiova evolved. Thus, in 1951, the Institute of Electrical Machines and Appliances, with the goal to train specialists who were needed “in the process of electrifying the country and producing electronic equipment for our industry”, whose direct beneficiary was  the ”Electroputere” plant in Craiova. In the first year,the Institute functioned with only one faculty, the Electrotechnics, to which the Faculty of Electrification of Industry, Agriculture and Transport was added in 1953. In 1956 they were reorganized into the Faculty of Electrotechnics (with two specialisations: machines and electrical appliances, and Industrial and rural electrification) named”The Technical Institute”. By the end of the academic year 1956-1957, the institute of Craiova had been subordinated to the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest - until 1958, when it was dissolved. It is importante to note that the director of the Technical Institute was the outstanding Professor Eng. Cezar Parteni-Antoni, PhD (the future Rector of the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest).

The development of the pre-university education in Romania imposed the need to prepare a greater number of qualified teachers, especially for schools in the rural area.

Thus, on 1 Octombrie 1959, the “Three-year Institute of Pedagogy” was established in Craiova (having rewgard to Order 329 of 21 September, issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture) with the purpose to train teachers for secondary education. In the academic year 1959-1960, the Institute had three sections: Philology; Chemistry and Natural Sciences and Agricultural theoretical and practical knowledge; Mathematics – Physics and Industrial theoretical and practical knowledge.

Starting from the academic year 1960-1961, the Insitute of Pedagogy is reorganized and four faculties are established:

  • Faculty of Philology – comprising: Romanian language and literature and Romanian and Russian Languages;
  • Faculty of Physics – Chemistry – with the sections Physics-Chemistry and industrial theoretical and practical knowledge;
  • Faculty of Mathematics – with the section of Mathematics;
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences – with the section of Natural Sciences and Training.

In the academic year 1961-1962, the profile of the Institute is completed by the Faculty of History and Geography (with the History-Geography section).

If in the first academic year, 1959-1960, the Institute of Pedagogy counted only 269 students, in the academic year 1965-1966, their number increased to 1,542 (distributed as follows: Philology – 616, History-Geography – 416, Natural Sciences – 190, Physics-Chemistry – 175 and Mathematics – 105). The same evolution was noted with the teaching staff, raising from 24 in the first year (1959-1960) to 109 in the academic year 1965-1966. By the autumn of 1965, the Insitute were graduated by 4 cohorts, providing professional training to 961 teachers (239 Romanian language and literature teachers, 102 history-geography teachers, 245 natural and agricultural sciences teachers, 160 physics-chemistry teachers and 215 in mathematics).

In 1965 the preliminary stage in the development of higher education in Craiova was completed through the Institute of Agronomy and Three-year Institute of Pedagogy, which laid the foundatin of advanced academic education (covering a large array of domains: agriculture, horticulture, electrotechnical, philological, pedagogical, etc.) and teaching staff able to guide the educational actions to other specializations. The premises and conditions for the establishment of an academic centre in Craiova were thus laid.

(Source: Monograph of the University of Craiova, 2008, Universitaria Printing House, Beladi Printing House, coordinated by: VLADIMIRESCU, ION; OTOVESCU, DUMITRU)