STA, 3 December 2019 - The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest institution of higher learning, is celebrating its centenary with a series of events that culminated on Tuesday, the day exactly 100 years ago when the first lecture was delivered in the Slovenian language.
The university awarded out a doctorate to Kenneth Brian Frampton of Columbia University in New York today and will hold a special ceremony in the evening when it will receive the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service from President Borut Pahor.
The university started out with five founding members - the faculties of arts, medicine, law, technology and theology - after King Alexander signed a law establishing what was then the University of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in Ljubljana.
The first lecture was delivered in the building that remains the seat of the university to this day, the former Carniolan Provincial Court in the centre of Ljubljana, by the linguist Franc Ramovš and the topic was the historical grammar of the Slovenian language.
In the first academic year the university boasted almost a thousand students and by the start of the Second World War enrolment had increased to almost 2,500.
While male students far outnumbered women in the first years, the first person ever to get a doctorate was a woman, Ana Mayer, who received her PhD in chemistry in July 1920.
The university continued to grow after the Second World War and by the 1960s it already had nine faculties. In 1979 it was renamed to Edvard Kardelj University, in honour of the Slovenian Communist ideologue, but in 1990 it reverted to the University of Ljubljana.
After independence, especially under the 1993 higher education act, it transformed into what it describes as a "classical European university," with greater emphasis on scientific research and greater autonomy.
It presently comprises 26 faculties and academies and its 38,000-plus students are enrolled in 158 bachelors', 196 masters' and 21 doctoral programmes ranging from the arts to social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, medicine and law.
"A hundred years later we are a university that has gone beyond national borders and helps build the European university of the future," Chancellor Igor Papič told the STA.
He said the University of Ljubljana ranks among the top three percent of universities in the world, which was "probably unimaginable a century ago, when we were fighting to get the university in the first place and faced constant pressure that it be shut down."
In the latest Shanghai Rankings, considered a benchmark for higher education institutions, the university ranks 501-600, down from 401-500 last year.
At the ceremony today Papič said that the university was "in excellent shape". While it wants better financing, it is glad it does not currently have problems paying salaries. The main challenge at the moment is securing funds for the construction of several new faculty buildings and cutting-edge research equipment.