Kharkov, University of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kharkov, University of


(full name, A. M. Gorky University of Kharkov), one of the oldest universities in the USSR, founded in 1805 on the initiative of V. N. Karazin.

Before the October Socialist Revolution of 1917, the university had four faculties, namely, physics and mathematics, history and philology, medicine, and law. It also had an astronomical observatory (founded 1808) and a botanical garden (1804). The university was instrumental in founding Kharkov’s first newspaper, the Khar’kovskii ezhenedel’nik (Kharkov Weekly, 1812), and it published the magazines Ukrainskii vestnik (Ukrainian Herald, 1816–19) and Ukrainskii zhurnal (Ukrainian Journal, 1824–25). From the 1860’s several learned societies were affiliated with the university, among them societies devoted to the advancement of natural science, mathematics, physics and chemistry, and history and philology.

The development of schools of thought at the university during the 19th and early 20th centuries was associated with eminent scientists and scholars. Among outstanding men of science and scholars who taught at the university were the mathematicians V. G. Imshenetskii, A. M. Liapunov, T. F. Osipovskii, and V. A. Steklov, the physicists N. D. Pil’chikov and D. A. Rozhanskii, the physical chemist N. N. Beketov, the chemists I. P. Osi-pov and V. F. Timofeev, the biochemist A. Ia. Danilevskii, the botanists V. M. Arhol’di, A. N. Beketov, V. I. Palladin, L. S. Tsenkovskii, and V. M. Cherniaev, the botanist and geographer A. N. Krasnov, the geologists N. D. Borisiak, A. V. Gurov, and I. F. Levakovskii, the historians D. I. Bagalei and V. P. Buzeskul, the philologists A. A. Potebnia, I. I. Sreznevskii, and N. F. Sumtsov, the surgeon N. P. Trinkler, and the ophthalmologist L. L. Girshman. Distinguished alumni included the mathematician M. V. Ostrogradskii, the biologist E. Metchnikoff, the historian and lawyer M. M. Kovalevskii, and the surgeon F. I. Inozemtsev. By the time of the October Socialist Revolution more than 15,000 students had graduated from the university.

During the years of Soviet power, the university grew into one of the country’s largest educational and research institutions. Between 1920 and 1932 the university was reorganized, successively, as the Academy of Theoretical Sciences (1920–21), the Institute of Public Education (1921–30), and the Institute of Professional Education and Institute of Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (1930–32). The medical and law faculties became independent institutes. During the 1932–33 academic year the university was reestablished with seven departments, namely, physics and mathematics, chemistry, biology, geology and geography, literature and linguistics, history (with a philosophy subdivision), and economics (with an economic geography subdivision). Eight scientific research institutions came under its jurisdiction. In 1936 the university was named in honor of A. M. Gorky.

During the years of Soviet power, scientists and scholars at the university have further developed the scientific schools that originated in the prerevolutionary period and have created new schools. The Kharkov school of mathematics evolved through the work of S. N. Bernshtein, N. I. Akhiezer, V. A. Marchenko, A. V. Pogorelov, and D. M. Sintsov, and a school of physics developed under A. I. Akhiezer, A. K. Val’ter, I. M. Lifshits, A. A. Slutskii, and K. D. Sinel’nikov. N. A. Izmailov has done important work in physical chemistry, N. P. Barabashev in astronomy, A. V. Nagornyi and V. N. Nikitin in physiology, V. K. Zalesskii in the physiology and biochemistry of plants, T. D. Strakhov in phytopathology, I. N. Bulankin in biochemistry, A. I. Kiprianov in organic chemistry, D. N. Sobolev in geology, and A. I. Beletskii, I. K. Beloded, and L. A. Bulakhovskii in philology.

The university comprises (1977) departments of mechanics and mathematics, physics, radiophysics, chemistry, biology, geology and geography, economics, history, philology, and foreign languages. The university also offers preparatory courses for foreign citizens, courses for the advanced training of university and institute teachers, general preparatory courses, evening and correspondence courses, and graduate training. It has 85 subdepartments, research institutes of chemistry and biology, an astronomical observatory, a computer center, a scientific research sector, four laboratories devoted to special problems, a biological station, a botanical garden, and archaeological, geological-mineralogical, and natural science museums. The university library contains 3 million volumes.

In the 1976–77 academic year, some 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in the university, including some 300 foreign citizens. The university’s staff of more than 900 teachers and 600 research workers included 69 professors and doctors of sciences and 553 docents and candidates of sciences.

The university has published the journal Uchenye zapiski (Scholarly Transactions) since 1874. During the years of Soviet power the university has trained more than 50,000 specialists. In 1955 the university was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and in 1980, the Order of Friendship of Peoples.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.