Little Bits of History

Higher Education

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 28, 2010

Aula Magna at night, Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Photo by Claudio Bautista-Branagan)

October 28, 1538: The first university is established in the New World in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino (University of Saint Thomas Aquinas).

Christopher Columbus made landfall in 1492 on the the island of Hispaniola, and island nation is part of, the other portion of which is. Columbus was met by the Taino Indians, who had a complex society ruled via a centralized government. Bartholomew Columbus, Chris’s brother, founded Santo Domingo with Europeans living there since 1496 and an official founding date of August 5, 1498.

The original layout of the city, The Colonial Zone, is a fantastic collection of 16th century buildings, including both mansions and churches. The Catedral Primada de America is the first Catholic Cathedral in América. The Alcazar De Colón is the palatial residence of Diego Colón, Chris’s son. The first monastery in America, the former palace of the Governor, and the oldest fortress in America are all here.

By order of Pope Paul III, Catholic monks of the Dominican Order reorganized the seminary into a university. Originally there were four departments: Medicine, Law, Theology, and the Arts. On December 31, 1961 Law # 5778 took effect, giving autonomy to the university and changing its name to Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. Today there are eight departments to choose from.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

“Without education we are in horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Two delusions fostered by higher education are that what is taught corresponds to what is learned, and that it will somehow pay off in money.” – William Feather

“Knowledge accumulates in universities, because the freshman bring a little in and the seniors take none away.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1886 the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in a ceremony with President Grover Cleveland officiating.