Lithuanian University of the Health Sciences
The Establishment and Development of the University of Lithuania (Vytautas Magnus) in Kaunas 1922–1940
On 16 February 1922 the University of Lithuania was opened. The President of the Republic of Lithuania Aleksandras Stulginskis appointed the deans of the faculties and the first five members of the teaching staff for each faculty. In the beginning, the University had five faculties: Theology and Philosophy, Social Sciences, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Medicine and Engineering. The University of Lithuania was the only school of higher education in Lithuania during the interwar period.
The foundation for the establishment of a university was laid in 1920 with the establishment in Kaunas of a Higher Courses of Study. The infrastructure and inventory of this program were transferred to the newly established University of Lithuania. Prof. Jonas Šimkus (1873–1944) was appointed the first rector of the University. The Dean’s Council worked so quickly and efficiently that they were able to process the admission of students and begin the first semester on 6 March 1922. The number of students admitted was 493. According to the University Statute published on the 22nd of April, the Faculty of Social Sciences was divided into two faculties: Humanities and Law. In 1925, the Protestant Theology Faculty was established.
The faculty councils continually invited or selected through competition new faculty members. The many foreign scientists and scholars working at the University created a liberal and multicultural atmosphere. Beside their scientific and educational work, the teaching staff had to organize laboratories, libraries, clinics, cabinets and so forth. Several buildings in Kaunas were assigned to the University but they were insufficient. In the interwar period, new modern buildings for the Institute of Physics and Chemistry, the Faculty of Medicine, and the university clinics were built.
In 1930, a new statute of the University was passed, which changed the University’s name to the Vytautas Magnus University in honor of the Grand Duke Vytautas the Great whose 500th death anniversary was celebrated that year. The University’s broad autonomy was somewhat curtailed and greater powers were granted to the minister of education and the president of Lithuania. The number of departments and units also decreased.
During the first Soviet occupation in 1940, the Faculties of Humanities and Law and of Mathematics and Natural Sciences were transferred to Vilnius University, and the University was named the University of Kaunas. The Soviet government closed down the University in 1950.