Moscow State University

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Moscow State University

Moscow State University, at Moscow, Russia, officially M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State Univ.; founded 1755 as Moscow Univ. by the Russian scientist M. V. Lomonosov, renamed Moscow State Univ. after the Russian Revolution, and renamed after its founder in 1940. It has faculties of physics, computational mathematics and cybernetics, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, geography, soil science, fundamental medicine, history, philology, philosophy, foreign languages, economics, journalism, law, psychology, sociology, and other areas. There are research institutes devoted to mechanics, nuclear physics, astronomy, computer science, and laser technology, among others. Its library is among Russia's largest libraries and oldest university libraries, and the university maintains several museum collections and a botanical garden.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moscow State University


(full name, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University; MGU), the largest higher educational institution in the USSR and one of the world’s major scientific and scholarly centers. Organized through the efforts of M. V. Lomonosov, the university was founded by a ukase of the empress Elizaveta Petrovna, issued on Jan. 12(23), 1755, in response to Count I. I. Shuvalov’s “Report to the Senate.” The university opened on Apr. 26 (May 7), 1755, with faculties of philosophy, law, and medicine and a Gymnasium for prospective students, which existed until 1812. In 1779, M. M. Kheraskov established a boarding school for noblemen’s children at the university, and in 1830 the school was reorganized as a Gymnasium for children of the nobility.

Lomonsov’s students and followers, notably N. N. Popovskii, D. S. Anichkov, A. A. Barsov, S. E. Desnitskii, and I. A. Tret’iakov, contributed to the university’s development as a center of science and learning. The university’s printing press published the newspaper Moskovskie vedomosti. A democratic orientation became firmly established at the university as progressive scholars and students struggled against the tsarist government’s reactionary policies in university education. Under the Charter of 1804, four faculties were established: moral and political sciences (philosophy), physics and mathematics, medicine, and philology. A society of history and Russian antiquities was founded at the university in 1804; a society of naturalists, in 1805; and a society of lovers of Russian literature, in 1811. The societies played an important role in the history of Russian scientific thought and scholarship. Major collections were assembled in the university’s zoological and mineralogical halls and botanical garden, and an astronomical observatory was opened in 1832. In 1849 the faculty of philosophy was divided into a faculty of history and philology and a faculty of physics and mathematics, and the teaching of philosophy was prohibited as “pernicious.” In accordance with the Charter of 1863 the university’s four faculties were subdivided into 54 subdepartments.

Important scientific and scholarly schools arose at the university in biology (K. F. Rul’e, M. A. Maksimovich, M. A. Menzbir, K. A. Timiriazev), agronomy and mineralogy (M. G. Pavlov, F. F. Reie), physics (A. G. Stoletov, N. A. Umov, P. N. Lebedev), chemistry (V. V. Markovnikov, N. D. Zelinskii), astronomy (F. A. Bredikhin, V. K. Tseraskii, A. A. Belopol’skii), geology and paleontology (A. P. Pavlov), anthropology (A. P. Bogdanov), physiology (I. M. Sechenov), medicine (M. Ia. Mudrov, N. I. Pirogov, S. P. Botkin, G. A. Zakhar’in, A. A. Ostroumov, A. Ia. Kozhevnikov, N. F. Filatov, S. S. Korsakov, F. F. Erisman, A. I. Abrikosov, S. I. Spasokukotskii), geography and anthropology (D. N. Anuchin), aerodynamics (N. E. Zhukovskii), geochemistry (V. I. Vernadskii), geotectonics (G. E. Shurovskii), history (S. M. Solov’ev, V. O. Kliuchevskii, V. I. Ger’e, P. G. Vinogradov), economics (I. I. Ianzhul, A. I. Chuprov, I. K. Babst), sociology (M. M. Kovalevskii), linguistics (F. F. Fortunatov, F. I. Buslaev), literary theory and criticism (N. S. Tikhomirov, N. I. Storozhenko), and Oriental studies (V. F. Miller).

Among the university’s students were A. N. Radishchev; the future Decembrists A. N. Murav’ev, N. M. Murav’ev, I. D. Iakushkin, S. P. Trubetskoi, and P. G. Kahovskii; the revolutionary democrats V. G. Belinskii, A. I. Herzen, and N. P. Ogarev; and many eminent cultural figures, including D. I. Fonvizin, V. A. Zhukovskii, A. S. Griboedov, P. Ia. Chaadaev, M. Iu. Lermontov, A. I. Polezhaev, A. A. Fet, A. F. Pisemskii, I. A. Goncharov, F. I. Tiutchev, A. N. Ostrovskii, A. P. Chekhov, T. N. Granovskii, N. V. Stankevich, K. D. Ushinskii, M. Nalbandian, P. L. Chebyshev, N. G. Rubinshtein, L. V. Sobinov, V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, and E. B. Vakhtangov. The university was also attended by a number of outstanding Communist Party members, including M. F. Vladimirskii, D. I. Kurskii, V. V. Vorovskii, V. P. Potemkin, A. G. Tsulukidze, N. A. Semashko, and S. S. Spandar’ian; the heroes of the Civil War (1918–20) S. G. Lazo, N. A. Rudnev, D. I. Furmanov, and N. N. Iakovlev; and the Communist professor P. K. Shternberg.

The university’s revolutionary groups played a major role in the development of the revolutionary and democratic movement in Russia. In 1889, V. K. Kumatovskii founded the first Marxist circle; later D. I. Ul’ianov, M. F. Vladimirskii, and P. G. Smidovich also formed Marxist groups. A Social Democratic organization was established in 1905. V. I. Lenin called Moscow University “a revolutionary university” (Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 11, p. 377). The tsarist government closed down the university many times. In protest against the use of police troops at the university and mass expulsions of students, 130 scholars resigned from the university in 1911, among them K. A. Timiriazev, N. D. Zelinskii, P. N. Lebedev, V. I. Vernadskii, S. A. Chaplygin, F. F. Fortunatov, V. I. Picheta, and A. N. Reformatskii.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution the university became a state university and its doors were opened to workers and peasants. In 1919 one of the country’s first workers’ schools (rabfak), the M. N. Pokrovskii Rabfak, was established at the university. A chemistry department was created in 1929, and a department of mechanics, mathematics, and physics was organized in 1931 out of the former physics and mathematics faculty. A history department was formed in 1934; a department of geology and pedology and a department of geography were created in 1938; and departments of philosophy, philology, economics, and law were established in 1941–42. An institute for the advanced training of social science instructors was founded in 1949. That year the biology department was reorganized as the department of biology and pedology, and the geology and pedology department became the geology department. A journalism department was set up in 1952, and the Institute of Oriental Languages was founded in 1956 (renamed the Institute of Asian and African Countries in 1972). A preparatory department for foreign students was organized in 1959; a psychology department, in 1966; a department for the advanced training of teachers in higher educational institutions, in 1967; and a department of computing mathematics and cybernetics, in 1970. In 1973 the department of soil science and biology was divided into biology and pedology departments.

In the Soviet period traditional schools of thought have been developed and new ones have emerged. Important work has been done in mechanics (N. E. Zhukovskii, S. A. Chaplygin, L. S. Leibenzon, L. I. Sedov, A. A. Il’iushin, M. M. Filonenko-Borodich, B. V. Bulgakov, A. Iu. Ishlinskii, and Iu. N. Rabotnov), mathematics (N. N. Luzin, V. V. Golubev, I. I. Privalov, P. S. Aleksandrov, A. N. Kolmogorov, V. V. Stepanov, I. G. Petrovskii [rector from 1951 to 1973], S. L. Sobolev, A. N. Tikhonov, and I. M. Gel’fand), problems of management and control (L. S. Pontriagin), mathematical logic (A. A. Markov), physics (S. I. Vavilov, L. I. Mandel’shtam, G. S. Landsberg, I. E. Tamm, A. A. Andronov, M. A. Leontovich, N. N. Bogoliubov, D. V. Skobel’tsyn, S. N. Vernov, L. D. Landau, and A. M. Prokhorov), chemistry (N. D. Zelinskii, A. N. Nesmeianov [rector of the university from 1948 to 1951], V. A. Kargin, N. N. Semenov, V. I. Spitsyn, A. V. Novoselova, M. A. Prokof’ev, and I. P. Alimarin), physical chemistry (P. A. Re-binder and A. N. Frumkin), the physics and chemistry of ultrahigh pressures (L. F. Vereshchagin), geology (A. D. Arhangel’skii, M. M. Filatov, A. N. Mazarovich, A. A. Bogdanov, E. A. Kuznetsov, V. I. Smirnov, and O. K. Lange), geochemistry (A. P. Vinogradov), geophysics (A. I. Zaborovskii and V. V. Fedynskii), fossil fuels (I. O. Brod and N. B. Vassoevich), paleontology (Iu. A. Orlov and V. V. Menner), and crystallography (N. V. Belov). Equally important work has been done in molecular biology (A. N. Belozerskii), experimental biology and genetics (N. K. Kol’tsov), evolutionary morphology (A. N. Severtsov), marine fauna (L. A. Zenkevich), industrial microbiology (V. N. Shaposhnikov); agrochemistry and pedology (D. N. Prianishnikov), animal biochemistry (S. E. Severin), geography (A. A. Borzov, N. N. Baranskii, I. S. Shchukin, and K. K. Markov), history (B. D. Grekov, M. N. Tikhomirov, B. A. Rybakov, M. V. Nechkina, N. N. Druzhinin, L. V. Cherepnin, A. V. Artsikhovskii, S. V. Bakhrushin, S. D. Skazkin, and E. A. Kosminskii), philology (V. V. Vinogradov and N. K. Gudzii), law (M. N. Gernet, S. F. Kechek’ian, E. A. Korovin, and V. E. Grabar’), economics (K. V. Ostrovitianov, V. S. Nemchinov, N. N. Nekrasov, N. P. Fedorenko, and T. S. Khachaturov), art history (B. R. Vipper, V. N. Lazarev, N. I. Romanov, and A. A. Fedorov-Davydov), and philosophy and psychology (V. F. Asmus, A. N. Leont’ev, and A. R. Luriia). M. V. Keldysh, the president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, studied and worked at Moscow State University.

In 1974, Moscow State University comprised departments of mechanics and mathematics, computing mathematics and cybernetics, physics, chemistry, biology (with a branch in Pushchino), pedology, geography, geology, history, philology, philosophy, psychology, law, economics, and journalism. It also had a department for the advanced training of teachers in higher educational institutions; a preparatory department for foreign students, the Institute of Asian and African Countries; the Institute for the Advanced Training of Social Science Teachers; research institutes of nuclear physics (with a branch in Dubna) and mechanics; the P. K. Shternberg Institute of Astronomy; an institute of anthropology; museums of zoology, anthropology, and physical geography; a computer research center; a Russian language methods center; and observatories on Lenin Hills, in the Crimea, and in other parts of the country. The university also has a preparatory division, various courses for advanced training (radiochemistry, biology, geology, hydrology), a boarding school for mathematics students, and other educational subdivisions. Teaching and scientific work is done in 258 subdepartments, 350 laboratories, including 26 special problem laboratories, 11 scientific and training stations, a botanical garden, and the A. M. Gorky Research Library, founded in 1756 and housing more than 6.1 million volumes.

The university’s publishing activity began with the establishment of a printing press in 1756. The Moscow State University Publishing House, founded in 1927, publishes scholarly writings, textbooks, and teaching-methods material. In 1973 the university published 350 titles totaling 35 million printer’s sheets and 2.4 million copies. The university publishes the journal Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta (Journal of Moscow University; 14 series), the journal Biulleien’ Moskovskogo obshchestva ispytatelei prirody (Bulletin of the Moscow Society of Naturalists; two series), and such serial publications as Zhizn’ Zemli (The Life of the Earth), Antropologiüa (Anthropology), and Slavianskaia filologiia (Slavic Philology).

The Moscow Society of Naturalists, founded in 1805, and the Moscow Mathematics Society, founded in 1867, are affiliated with the university.

In 1974 the university had 3, 500 instructors and about 4, 000 researchers, including 874 professors and doctors of sciences and 3, 400 docents and candidates of sciences, 20 Heroes of Socialist Labor, and three Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among the instructors are 42 members and 53 corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Those connected with the university who are members of the Academy of Sciences include A. A. Baev, S. I. Vol’fkovich, Ia. B. Zel’dovich, I. K. Kikoin, I. M. Livshits, A. A. Logunov, A. M. Obukhov, A. I. Oparin, G. I. Petrov, B. M. Pontekorvo, Iu. V. Prokhorov, O. A. Reutov, A. S. Spirin, I. M. Frank, and N. M. Emanuel’. Among the corresponding members are R. I. Avanesov, V. V. Belousov, I. V. Berezin, D. I. Blokhintsev, O. T. Bogomolov, R. A. Budagov, E. P. Velikhov, L. G. Voronin, P. V. Volobuev, L. A. Galin, Ia. I. Gerasimov, E. I. Grigoliuk, G. T. Zatsepin, A. A. Il’iushin, V. A. Kabanov, G. P. Kalinin, L. V. Keldysh, I. D. Koval’chenko, V. A. Kovda, A. A. Krasnovskii, O. B. Lupanov, L. A. Liusternik, V. A. Magnitskii, D. E. Men’shov, M. G. Meshcheriakov, V. V. Migulin, An. N. Nesmeianov, G. V. Nikol’skii, S. P. Novikov, T. I. Oizerman, D. E. Okhotsimskii, V. A. Rumiantsev, E. F. Savarenskii, A. A. Samarskii, E. M. Sergeev, V. E. Sokolov, A. I. Tugarinov, V. E. Khain, R. V. Khokhlov, G. G. Chernyi, K. V. Chibisov, A. E. Chudakov, I. R. Shafarevich, I. S. Shklovskii, S. V. Iablonskii, and V. L. Ianin.

In 1974 the university had an enrollment of about 27, 000 students, of whom more than 20, 000 attended the day division. In addition, there were more than 5, 000 graduate students and probationers; 5, 000 persons were enrolled in the preparatory department and in the institute, department, and courses for advanced professional training; 20, 000 persons were enrolled in various preparatory courses. There were 2, 500 foreign students from 105 countries. The university has trained 175, 000 specialists (including 135, 000 in the Soviet period) and more than 17, 000 candidates of sciences.

Several institutions have been formed out of subdivisions of the university, among them the First Moscow Medical Institute (1930), the S. Ordzhonikidze Moscow Institute of Geological Prospecting (1930), the Moscow Institute of International Relations (1943), the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (1951), the Historical Museum (founded in 1872, opened in 1883), the Polytechnical Museum (1872), the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (mid-19th century), the Ethnographic Museum (1863), and the Zoological Garden (1864).

Moscow University was originally housed in a building situated in Red Square on the site of the present Historical Museum. Between 1786 and 1793 a special building (classical style, architect M. F. Kazakov) was erected for the university at the corner of Bol’shaia Nikitskaia Street (present Herzen Street) and Mokhovaia Street (now part of Marx Prospect). The building was damaged during the fire of 1812 and rebuilt in 1817–19 by the architect D. I. Gilardi (the bas-relief on the portico was executed by G. T. Zamaraev). Gilardi preserved the imposing II–shaped layout and the basic spatial arrangements but considerably altered the main facade (especially its central part) in conformity with the Russian Empire style. Monuments to A. I. Herzen and N. P. Ogarev have been erected in the main courtyard in front of the central facade (both monuments of cement with fine crushed granite, 1922, N. A. Andreev).

Between 1833 and 1836 the “new” building with a chapel (late classicism, architect E. D. Tiurin, rebuilt several times) was erected on another corner of Mokhovaia and Bol’shaia Nikitskaia streets. Today, the building is the House of Culture of the humanities departments. In the early 20th century a library was also built on yet another corner (eclectic style, architect K. M. Bykovskii), and large buildings were constructed along Bol’shaia Nikitskaia Street. A monument to M. V. Lomonosov stands in front of the “new” building (bronze, 1957, I. I. Kozlovskii).

A new university campus, covering 320 hectares, was built on Lenin Hills between 1949 and 1970. It includes a wooded park, a botanical garden, an observatory, and 27 main and ten service buildings. The principal ensemble, built between 1949 and 1953 by the architects L. V. Rudnev, S. E. Chernyshev, P. V. Abrosimov, and A. F. Khriakov and the engineer V. N. Nasonov, is a complex of tower-like buildings. The main building has 32 stories and rises 240 m in the center, and its facade is adorned with sculpture by V. I. Mukhina, G. I. Motovilov, and S. M. Orlov. The principal ensemble includes, in addition to classrooms and administrative offices, a club section (the mosaics in the auditorium were executed by P. D. Korin), dormitories, apartments for instructors, and other facilities. A monument to M. V. Lomonosov (bronze, 1953, N. V. Tomskii) stands in front of the club section. A new building housing the humanities departments was opened on Lenin Hills in 1970 (architects A. F. Khriakov, M. A. Chesakov, and E. M. Zolotnitskaia; engineer L. I. Pil’des).

In 1940, the university was awarded the Order of Lenin and was named in honor of M. V. Lomonosov, and in 1955 it received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. The university was awarded the Order of the Banner of Labor of the German Democratic Republic in 1971 and the Order of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria in 1972 for assistance in training specialists and conducting joint research projects.


Istoriia Moskovskogo universiteta, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1955.
Moskovskii universitet za 50 let Sovetskoi vlasti Editor in chief, I. G. Petrovskii. Moscow, 1967.


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