Vilnius, University of

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vilnius, University of


(full name, V. Kapsukas University of Vilnius). The university was founded in 1579 as the Vilnius Academy, which was accorded the rights and privileges of a university. Initially the academy consisted of the departments of theology and philosophy; departments of law and medicine were established in 1641. Its activity was essentially determined by the interests of the Roman Catholic Church, and it was directed by the Jesuit order. In 1773, simultaneously with the banning of the Jesuits in Lithuania, the academy was reorganized into the Main School of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1796 it was renamed the Main Vil’na School, which was reorganized into the University of Vil’na in 1803.

The well-known scholars and scientists J. Lelewel, J. Sniadecki, K. Langsdorfas, S. Jundzilas, J. Frankas, M. Pocobutas, L. Bojanus, A. Shakhin, and P. Norvaisa, among others, taught at the university, and it was here that A. Mickiewicz, J. Stowacki, S. Daukantas, S. Stanevicius, and O. Kovalevskii, among others, received their education. The university was closed in 1832, and medical-surgical and theological academies were established on its base. The medical-surgical academy was transferred to Kiev in 1842, where it became the foundation for the medical department established at the University of Kiev; the theological academy was transferred to St. Petersburg.

Early in 1919 the Soviet government of Lithuania issued a decree reviving the national University of Vilnius, but the organizational work ceased after the Polish occupation of Vilnius. For the next 20 years (1919-39), the university existed as one of the universities of Poland. After the city was returned to Lithuania in 1939, the University of Vilnius began to function as a national higher educational institution. Several departments of the University of Kaunas became part of it. After the reestablishment of Soviet power in Lithuania (1940), the University of Vilnius became a major educational and scientific center. In 1955 the name of V. Kapsukas, a figure in the Lithuanian revolutionary workers’ movement, was conferred on the university.

In the 1969-70 academic year the university had departments of mathematics and mechanics, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, medicine, history, philology, economics, and law; an evening department (in Kaunas); a correspondence and evening division (with instruction in Lithuanian and Russian); a graduate school and a division of advanced training for physicians; 84 subdepartments; five project scientific research laboratories and four scientific research laboratories that work on urgent problems for a definite branch of the economy; an astronomical observatory (founded in 1753); a botanical garden; a vivarium; and a memorial museum devoted to A. Mickiewicz. The scientific and scholarly library (founded in 1570) contains more than 2.5 million storage units. During the 1969-70 academic year, the university had about 15,000 students and 800 teachers, including 59 doctors of science and professors and 338 candidates of science and docents.

The works of the scholars and scientists of the university have become well-known in the areas of number theory and the theory of probability (V. Statutevičius and J. KubOius), theoretical physics (A. Jucys), the physics of semiconductors (J. Višščakas), surgery (P. Norkunas and A. Marcinkēvičius), linguistics (V. Maziulis and J. Kazlauskas), and others. The university, which publishes (since 1949) Uchenye zapiski, trained about 17,000 highly qualified specialists between 1944 and 1969.

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