On 3rd September 1999, the Parliament (Sejm) of the Republic of Poland adopted a resolution on establishing the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.
Academy of Catholic Theology and the origin of the University
The Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University (UKSW) in Warsaw is one of the youngest universities in Poland, but it continues long standing academic traditions, finding its roots at the University of Warsaw.
After the Congress of Vienna in 1815 Warsaw became part of the Russian Empire and Tsar Alexander I was crowned the king of the Polish Kingdom. On the initiative of Stanisław Kostka Potocki, who led the Committee of the National Education and Beliefs (Komisja Oświecenia Narodowego i Wyznań Religijnych) (a ministry of that time), and of Stanisław Staszic, Tsar Alexander I, the Royal University of Warsaw was established on the strength of the decree dated 7/19 November 1816. The new university was composed of five faculties, the most primary of which was the Faculty of Theology. The role of the first rector of the University was fulfilled by the Roman Catholic priest, professor Wojciech Anzelm Szweykowski, the co-founder of the University and the dean of the Faculty of Theology. Szweykowski carried out this role until the suspension of the activities of the university in 1831.
Following the repressions after the November Uprising of 1830, the University was closed down. The lectures at the Faculty of Theology were suspended as early as in 1823, although Tsar Alexander I established the Main Seminary for prospective candidates for the priesthood, which was linked with the University. In 1831 the Faculty of Theology also ceased to exist.
In 1835 in the place of the Main Seminary, Tsar Nikolas I erected the Roman-Catholic Clerical Academy in Warsaw, which in 1867 was closed down by the tsarist authorities. The teachers and students were transferred to the Clerical Academy in Petersburg, which operated until the spring of 1918. In 1869 the Imperial University in Warsaw was established, with the Russian language as the only language of instruction.
In 1915 the University of Warsaw resumed in its activities as a Polish centre for education. Since 1918 the university had hosted the Faculty of Catholic Theology and a few years later it also started the Faculty of Evangelical Theology. Between 1927-1928 the position of rector of the University of Warsaw was held by Father Antoni Szlagowski, the professor of the Faculty of Theology and, later, the bishop suffragan of Warsaw.
During the German occupation, between 1939 and 1945, all the universities in Poland were closed down. In Warsaw, however, underground teaching was conducted for many students, among others, for the candidates for priesthood. In 1945 candidates became the students of the Faculty of Catholic Theology, which recommenced its activities at the same time as the University of Warsaw. Unfortunately, the communist government of that time did not want faculties of theology in state-owned universities. The faculties of theology were separated from the University of Warsaw and from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in 1954. These two faculties were then merged into one, so establishing the Academy of Catholic Theology.
The Marian Fathers Monastery was situated in the Warsaw district of Bielany, in the northern part of the city, but during the peak period of Stalin’s reign of terror, the Marian Fathers were forcibly transferred to the monastery situated on the territory of the former East Prussia (at present: the Mazuria). The Academy of Catholic Theology was then situated in their abandoned building, which had the floor area of 3000 m2. It was a state-owned school, established on the strength of the decision of the then Council of Ministers. Given the fact that, according to the canon law, the faculties of theology had to be established and validated by the Holy See, the creation of the new school was negatively received by the ecclesiastical establishment. In 1960, with the consent of the Holy See, Primate Stefan Wyszyński, the archbishop of Warsaw, officially recognized the Academy and was appointed its Great Chancellor. The Academy of Catholic Theology received complete ecclesiastical powers in 1989 (by a decree of the Vatican Congregation) and since then it had been both a state-owned and an ecclesiastical institution.
In 1954 the Academy of Catholic Theology was a small school, with 60 academic teachers and 415 students. Since the beginning of its existence it had had three faculties: the Faculty of Theology, the Faculty of Canon Law and the Faculty of Christian Philosophy. The communist state was not interested in developing the Academy and only a very small number of students were allowed to be admitted there (“numerus clausus”). It was as late as the 1980's that the number of students increased. In 1987 the Faculty of Ecclesiastical Historical and Social Sciences was created from a part of the Faculty of Theology. After the political transformation of 1989 the further development of the school took place and the restrictions imposed by the Ministry regarding the number of students who could be admitted were lifted. The number of teachers increased and new areas of study were opened. In the last year of the existence of the Academy it had four faculties and one institute with the powers of a faculty, nine areas of study (theology, canon law, law, philosophy, psychology, history, history of arts, political science, family science), 295 academic teachers and 8787 students.
The continued development of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University
The rapid development of the Academy of Catholic Theology in the 1990's rekindled the hopes of transforming it into a university. This process was not easy and it lasted several years. On 1st October 1999 the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw began its existence as a state-owned university, currently consisting of four ecclesiastical faculties: 1. Theology; 2. Canon Law; 3. Christian Philosophy; 4. Family Studies. All faculties are subject to the supervision and control not only of the Minister of Higher Education, but also of the Great Chancellor of the University, a role fulfilled by each subsequent archbishop of Warsaw. Every academic teacher who is to be employed at one of these three faculties has to receive consent to teach (“missio canonica”) from the Great Chancellor. This applies to all three of the ecclesiastical faculties.
However, we may also enumerate other characteristics which indicate the particular nature of the new university. It is a state-owned university of Christian inspiration, strictly linked with the Catholic Church. The status of the university obliges all of the academic community to nurture and develop humanistic, Christian and national values. Every academic teacher and every student should be aware of those duties. Academic teachers of the non-ecclesiastical faculties do not require the “missio canonica” from the Great Chancellor, nevertheless the rector endeavours to engage employees who are well suited for working in a university of a Catholic nature.
The Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University has a particular environment because it is strongly marked by the Catholic faith and culture. This regards all areas of study. Here are a few examples:
Area of study: History: The curriculum includes not only general history, but also the history of the Church. The students do study general history, however more space is dedicated to the history of the Church.
Area of study: Political science: Within this area of study the knowledge conveyed to students regards not only the political institutions and the European Union, but also Catholic social teaching. The same applies to studies in sociology. If students choose to study Polish Philology, he or she has to become familiar with the entire Polish philosophical literature and also the religious themes present in Polish literature and history, which are focused on more extensively at our University than at any other Polish university. Is it also possible to educate future lawyers in this manner? Students of law will not only study the provisions of various legal codes, but also the elements of the canon law, ethics and Catholic social teaching. For other areas of study, such as mathematics, there is no direct link to Catholicism, but it is expected that students and graduates should act honestly and according to their conscience in their private and professional lives.
Present and Future of the University
The Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University (UKSW) is developing rapidly. It now has 10 faculties and 35 areas of study. In each area of study it is possible to obtain both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. The University also has the right to confer doctoral degrees in twelve disciplines (theology, canon law, law, philosophy, psychology, history, sociology, political sciences, literary studies, pedagogy, physics, mathematics). There is also a possibility of obtaining a post-doctoral degree in six disciplines (theology, canon law, philosophy, psychology, history, sociology).
The University educates over 16 000 students. The studies are conducted as full-time studies (without the payment of tuition fees) and part-time studies, both in the mode of long-cycle studies, first-cycle studies and second-cycle studies. In order to conduct its academic classes, the University needed buildings, lecture rooms, libraries and laboratories. By 1999 the Academy owned a small building with a floor area of 3000 m2 in the district of Bielany. Thanks to the efforts of the University’s authorities of that time, since October 1999 the University has expanded and now comprises of three additional buildings. Within the complex of these three buildings academic classes are conducted mostly for students of the following three faculties: the Faculty of Theology, the Faculty of Canon Law and the Faculty of Humanities. Within this complex, there is also the Main Library, a large lecture hall and numerous lecture rooms.
Gradually, the University is continuing to expand. The construction of new buildings has been financed by the Ministry of National Education. The buildings were erected on the plots of ground owned by the Church and handed over to the University in April 2003 by Cardinal Józef Glemp, the archbishop of Warsaw and the Primate of Poland.
Since 1992 the Academy of Catholic Theology had been leasing a building with a floor area of 2000 m2 in another district of the city, Młociny, on a plot of ground on which, until the 1980's was a military barracks. After a series of negotiations with the municipal authorities and after leasing and then acquiring the grounds, the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University became the owner of an additional plot of ground, located between the following streets: Żubrowa, Balaton, Wóycickiego and Samogłoski. It is there that the second campus of the University was established.
Within the area of the Młociny campus there is the Auditorium Maximum (building no. 21) – the most magnificent and prestigious building, composed of four floors above the ground and one below ground. Its useful floor area exceeds 3.600 m². On the ground floor there is a lecture hall seating 600 people, as well as Internet rooms, a bookstore, a restaurant, cloakrooms and the administration offices and general purpose rooms. On the remaining floors there are, amongst others, the Deans’ Offices and Faculty Offices for the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and for the School of Exact Sciences, as well as lecture and teachers’ rooms.
The largest building on the campus (building no. 23), which has six floors (including one underground floor) and a floor area of nearly 5000 m2, was put into service in 2009. In this building there are Deans’ Offices and Faculty Offices, as well as the lecture rooms for the Faculty of History and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Christian Philosophy and the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences.
At the Młociny campus there is also the Faculty of Law and Administration (building no. 17) and the Faculty of Pedagogical Sciences (building no. 15).
In April 2014 the Laboratory Centre of Natural Sciences was established. It is a building with specialist facilities and laboratories for students of chemistry, physics and biology.
A Special Place – the University Church
At the request of the teachers and students St. Joseph’s Church was erected within the grounds of the campus at ul. Wóycickiego. This venture was not financed by the state, but was accomplished thanks to the generosity of the private donors. The church is centrally located within the campus.