Towards the establishment of higher education in Craiova
By the 18th century, Bishop Damaschin of the Ramnic Archdiocese suggested the establishment “a higher school to serve the region of Oltenia”, an idea which was to be incorporated by the leader of the Revolution of 1848, Nicolae Balcescu, and his supporters in the “Declaration of Islaz”.
This first initiative regarding the establishment of the University of Craiova was made public by the high standing academic and politician I. H. Radulescu who submitted the “Declaration of Islaz” on June 9, 1848. This declaration criticized the private education of the time, which was considered as “not offering equal opportunities to all those willing to study in Romanian schools.” Thus, the new constitutional provision was that “an education equal for all, progressive, holistic, adapted to everyone’s needs as far as possible, and with no tuition fees” should be established.
The failure of the Revolution of 1848 negatively impacted on these ideals, but the school reforms that followed were based on revolutionary principles. Thus, in the context of the 1859 Union of the Romanian Principalities, the Law of public instruction, adopted in 1864, established the framework for the modernisation of Romanian education and made its implementation possible in all principalities.
Important roles in the restructuring of the Romanian education system were played by great public figures such as: Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Mihail Kogalniceanu, G. Costaforu, Spiru Haret etc.
In March 1898, the Minister of Public Instruction, Spiru Haret, initiated “The Law for secondary and higher education”, which was to regulate the education process until 1948. The main changes put forward by this law regarded the classification of high schools on specialties, establishing the organisational framework of higher education institutions.
New steps towards the establishment of an academic structure in Craiova were taken in the second half of the 19th century through the initiatives of various scientific organisations, publications and numerous scholars.
In 1874, “The Craiova Society for People’s Education and Culture” is established with the aim to support the advancement of education through private initiatives.
At the beginning of the 20th century, preoccupations and initiatives concur for the establishment of a higher education institution in Craiova. By 1919-1920 “The Federation of Teaching Staff” had been established, and in 1932 and 1933 teachers from Craiova document other attempts to organize themselves in professional associations.
Prior to World War II, a group of intellectuals from Craiova signed the article entitled “A movement for the establishment of a commercial Academy in Craiova is necessary” (published in Viata Noua magazine), in which they advocated for the necessity, scope and implications of a higher education school within the socio-cultural region of Oltenia.
Other initiatives in favour of a University in Craiova are to be found in the activity of the “Prietenii Stiintei” (Friends of Science) society established by Ch. Laugier, as well as in the “Arhivele Olteniei” (Archives of Oltenia) magazine. Starting from 1922, this magazine advocated the re-establishment of the National Theatre of Craiova, the design of a Historical Dictionary of Oltenia and of a historical bibliography of the area.
Later, on November 26, 1925, members of the "Friends of Science” society, encouraged by promises made by the Minister of Public Instruction, Dr. C. Angelescu, submitted a written statement in favour of the establishment of the University of Craiova. The statement, pointing out, inter alia, the advantages of having a university in Craiova for the advancement and development of education in Oltenia, was fruitless. A new attempt, in 1928, received the minister’s response relating to the possibility of establishing only an “Institute for higher education in agriculture and commerce”.
In 1929, a public meeting in the reception hall of the town’s Administrative Palace, chaired by Professor I. Bianu, the president of the Romanian Academy and his vice-president, Gh. Titeica, gathered thousands of citizens of Craiova. They voted for a resolution through which steps were to be taken in the Parliament and Government in order to establish an institution of higher education in Craiova.
In 1941, I. Bianu signed a new statement in which he demanded for the establishment of “an academic settlement” and an “academic ephorate”.
These steps culminated, in 1943, with a series of public meetings in Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Targu Jiu, Ramnicu-Valcea, Caracal, Craiova and Slatina, with the aim of conc an agreement for the establishment of a commercial academy, a faculty of agriculture and a faculty of medicine in Craiova.
“The General Association of People from Oltenia” (Asociatia Generala a Oltenilor) also organized a conference (5 Septembrie 1943) on the subject “University-level schools for Craiova”. This conference was held at the Dalles hall in Bucharest by Doctor of Science M. Cănciulescu, who also endorsed a statement in favour of the establishment, in Craiova, of the fourth national centre for higher medical education.
Another landmark is December 27, 1944, when in the Apollo hall, a “great people gathering” took place and a resolution was adopted for the establishment of the “University of Oltenia” (comprising of a Faculty of Medicine, The Polytechnic Institute for Civil; Engineering, Electric Engineering and Agronomy, and a Central Academy).
(Sourses: The Monograph of the University of Craiova, 2008, Universitaria Publishing House, Beladi Publishing House, coordinated by:VLADIMIRESCU, ION; OTOVESCU, DUMITRU)