Ghent University

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Group.png Ghent University  
(UniversityWebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Ghent University logo.svg
MottoAudere Sapiens
Formation1817
HeadquartersGhent, Flanders, Belgium
Type• public
• research
One of the biggest Flemish universities in Belgium. Big left-wing student activism from 1960s to 1980s.

Ghent University (Dutch/Flemish: Universiteit Gent) is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium. It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands. After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the newly formed Belgian state began to administer the university. In 1930, the university became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium, whereas French had previously been the standard academic language.

In contrast to the Catholic University of Leuven or the Free University of Brussels, UGent considers itself a pluralist university in a special sense, i.e. not connected to any particular religion or political ideology. Its motto Inter Utrumque ('In Between Both Extremes'), on the coat of arms, suggests the acquisition of wisdom and science comes only in an atmosphere of peace, when the institution is fully supported by the monarchy and fatherland.

Ghent University is one of the biggest Flemish universities, consisting of 44,000 students and 9,000 staff members. The University also supports the University Library and the University Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals in Belgium. It is one of the greatest beneficiaries of funding from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO).

History

Foundation, in the 19th century

The university in Ghent was opened on October 9, 1817, with JC van Rotterdam serving as the first rector. In the first year, it had 190 students and 16 professors. The original four faculties consisted of Humanities (Letters), Law, Medicine and Science, and the language of instruction was Latin. The university was founded by King William I as part of a policy to stem the intellectual and academic lag in the southern part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, later to become Belgium.

After peaking at a student population of 414, the number of students declined quickly following the Belgian Revolution. At this time, the Faculties of Humanities and Science were broken from the university, but they were restored five years later, in 1835. Ghent University played a role in the foundation of modern organic chemistry. Friedrich August Kekulé (7 September 1829 – 13 July 1896) unraveled the structure of benzene at Ghent and Adolf von Baeyer (Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer), a student of August Kekulé, made contributions to organic chemistry.

French became the language of instruction, taking the place of Latin, after the 1830 Revolution. In 1903, the Flemish politician Lodewijk De Raet led a successful campaign to begin instruction in Dutch, and the first courses were begun in 1906.

Developments since the 20th century

During World War I, the occupying German administration conducted Flamenpolitik and turned Ghent University into the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. A Flemish Institute (Vlaemsche Hoogeschool), commonly known as Von Bissing University, was founded in 1916 but was disestablished after the war and French language was fully reinstated. In 1923, Cabinet Minister Pierre Nolf put forward a motion to definitively establish the university as a Dutch-speaking university, and this was realized in 1930. August Vermeylen served as the first rector of a Dutch-language university in Belgium.[1]

In the Second World War, the German administration of the university attempted to create a German orientation, removing faculty members and installing loyal activists.

After the war, the university became a much larger institution, following government policy of democratizing higher education in Flanders during the 1950s and 1960s. By 1953, there were more than 3,000 students, and by 1969 more than 11,500. The number of faculties increased to eleven, starting with Applied Sciences in 1957. It was followed by Economics and Veterinary Medicine in 1968, Psychology and Pedagogy, as well as Bioengineering, in 1969, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The faculty of Politics and Social Sciences is the most recent addition, in 1992.

In the 1960s to 1980s, there were several student demonstrations at Ghent University, notably around the Blandijn site, which houses the Faculty of Arts & Philosophy.[2] The severest demonstrations took place in 1969 in the wake of May 1968.

 

Alumni on Wikispooks

PersonBornDiedNationalitySummaryDescription
Willy De Clercq8 July 192728 October 2011
Luc Coene11 March 19475 January 2017BelgiumEconomist
Central banker
Belgian central banker
Paul Janssen12 September 192611 November 2003BelgiumDoctor
Businessperson
Belgian businessman who founded Janssen Pharmaceutica, which became a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson in 1961
Karel van Miert17 January 194222 June 2009BelgiumPolitician
Jan Smets2 January 1951BelgiumCentral banker
Bas SplietBelgiumJournalist
Leo Tindemans16 April 192226 December 2014BelgiumPolitician
Guy Verhofstadt11 April 1953BelgiumPoliticianFormer Belgian Prime-Minister. European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group. Banned from Russia since 2015.
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