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Region of Murcia (Autonomous Community, Spain): Universities

Last modified: 2020-02-05 by ivan sache
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University of Murcia

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Flag of UMU, two versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 19 October 2019

UMU (website) is traditionally considered to have been established by King Alfonso X the Wise (1221-1284; king of Castile and León, 1252-1284), as featured in its coat of arms, inscribed with the Latin writing "Universitas Studiorum Murciana" and the Roman number MCCLXXII (1272). There were, indeed, several attempts to establish a university in the town before stabilization on the 20th century.

In 1243, Infante Alfonso entered Murcia after Ibn Hud's submission; two years later, the whole territory was pacified and Alfonso decided to maintain the area as a main cultural center. While some Muslim scholars who had contributed to the cultural boom of Murcia moved to Granada or Africa, most of them rallied the new ruler. Alfonso appointed the noted scholar Mohamed ibn Ahmed Abubequer Al-Ricoti as director of a school that soon attracted several Christian, Muslim and Jewish students. Al-Ricoti taught Medicine, Geometry, Logic and Philosophy in three languages: Arab, Latin and Romance.
In the aftermath of the Mudéjar revolt, the protectorate was suppressed in 1266 and Murcia was incorporated to the Kingdom of Castile. This caused the definitive emigration of several scholars to Granada. Al-Ricoti himself, challenged by the Dominican Order and the Christian scholars favored by Alfonso to support the struggle against the Muslims, left to Granada at some time between 1266 and 1272.

The first Christian educational foundation in Murcia was established by the Dominican Order as School of Arts and Philosophy. Present in Murcia since 1250, the Order founded in 1252/1253 a "studium conventuale", where Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were taught, upgraded in 1266 as a "studium solemne" in the aftermath of the reconquest of Murcia by James I of Aragón (1208-1276; reign, 1213-1376), and, in 1280, as a General School or Faculty of Eastern Languages. The new missionaries were taught Theology, the Scripture, Arab, Hebrew and Christian Apolegetics. St. Raymond of Penyafort (1175-1275; canonized on 29 April 1801 by Clement VIII), patron of the school, appointed in 1250 Father Ramón Martí as its director. A former student of Albertus Magnus in Paris, Martí published an Arab-Latin / Latin-Arab dictionary and several reference books on Moors and Jews.

The "official" date of foundation of the University of Murcia is 6 April 1272, while several sources erroneously give 6 April 1310. However, this date is not really connected to the university but by a document signed that day by Alfonso X in Murcia granting to the Dominican Order a house and a garden to establish a convent.
During the period of residence of Alfonso in Murcia, the town was a prominent center of culture and science. The second and third Partidas, the statutory code ordered by Alfonso X, were redacted there by bishop Pedro Galleco and Jacobo de los Leyes. Other noted local scholars were the translator Bernard the Arabic (a Muslim converted to the Christian religion), the medical doctor Nicolás, the historian Jofré de Loaysa, the troubadours Pedro Gómez Barroso, Guiralt Riquier of Narbonne and Pedro de Amigo, the street artists Ponce and María Pérez Balterra, and the painter Pedro Lorenzo, author of most the miniatures of Alfonso X's Cantigas.

Due to the remoteness of the region and its limited population, the university soon declined. In the 14th-15th century, education in Murcia was offered only by the Dominican school of Moral Theology and Arts, the Chair of Theology at the St. Francis Convent, and the municipal classes of Grammar. In 1563, Bishop Esteban de Almeida established a Jesuit school.
The establishment of the nearby University of Orihuela (1569-1824) prevented the development of a university in Murcia, where superior education was mostly supplied in the St. Fulgence Seminary, established on 19 August 1592 and approved on 7 January 1614 by Paul V. The Chairs of Civil and Canonic Law, established in 1741 by Cardinal Belluga (1662-1743, created Cardinal in 1719), prefigurated the emergence of the Univeristy of Murcia. In 1767, Diego de Rojas y Contreras (1700-1772), Bishop of Cartagena (1753-1772) called for the establishment of a university. His successor, Rubín de Celis, supported by the powerful Count of Floridablanca (1728-1808) de facto transformed the seminary into a university. The municipal government of Murcia, however, refued the official transformation into a university it would not rule. Royal Letters signed in 1783, however, allowed the seminary to deliver classes of Arts, Theology, Letters and Canon, as did the officially recognized universities.

On 5 October 1837, a Royal Decree established the Institute of Secondary Education, established in the building of the suppressed San Isidoro College of Theology (1767-1835). Unsatisfied, the elite of the town required the creation of a true university: on 7 January 1839, the municipal government, arguing of the lack of results of the institute, asked for the establishment of a University of Letters, where Jurisprudence, Theology, Sacred Canon, Rhetoric and Philosophy would be taught. Unanimously adopted, the petition was forwarded to the queen. On 18 September 1840, the Provisory Government of Murcia, taking advantage of the vacancy of central power following the resignation of the queen, proclaimed the University of Mucrcia, which succeeded the Institute and where Philosophy and Auxiliary Sciences, General Grammar, Logic, Geommetry, Chemistry and Experimental Physic, Moral Philosophy, Basics of Religion, General Principles of Literature and History, Mathematics, Botany, Agriculture, Law and Medicine were taught. Rector Pedro Lechaur y Galdós (1764-1851), canon of the cathedral and a noted shcolar, inaugurated the university on 22 October 1840. Little is known on the short-lived university, which was suppressed by the central government on 15 May 1841, together with the University of Cáceres. The two institutes, deemed to small to act as full-sized universities, were downgraded to institutes of Secondary Rducation.

In the aftmermath of the liberal revolution, a Decree Law issued on 21 October 1868 liberalized education; a companion Decree Law, issued on 14 Janaury 1869, allowed the provincial councils and the municipalities to establish their own universities, provided they would fund them. The Free University of Murcia, founded by both the province and the municipality, was inaugurated on 11 November 1869, in presence of the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, José de Echegaray (1832-1916), awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1904. Directed by Rector Gerónimo Torres Casanova, Dean of the cathedral, the university offered classes in Law, Sciences, Philosophy, and Letters. Lacking funds and students, the university was closed in 1874.

The next campaign for the establishment of a univerity in Murcia was initiated in late 1913 - early 1914 by the neswpaper El Liberal, directred by the poet Pedro Jara Carrillo (1876-1927). On 29 March 1914, a big assembly officially required the creation of a university covering the Province of Murcia and, partially, the Provinces of Albacete and Alicante. The commission that had presented the proposal in Madrid was welcomed by thousands of people and several music bands. At the same time, Murcia experienced a cultural rebirth, with the creation of a Tourism Bureau, the refoundation of the once famous Misericordia music band, and concerts offered by the Madrid Symphonic Orchestra. The creation of the University of Murcia was eventually approved by the Parliament on 17 December 1914 and prescribed by a Royal Decree issued on 23 March 1915. The inauguration ceremony was held on 7 October 1915.
José Loustau y Gómez de Membrillera (1889-1964) served as the first rector of the university, remaining in office until 1939, with a short interruption in 1929-1930, when Primo de Rivera attempted to close the university. The university was originally composed of the Faculties of Philosophy and Letters (sections of Spanish Language and Literature, Basic Logic, and Spanish History), and Medicine and Pharmacy (sections of General Physic, General Chemistry, Mineralogy, Botany and General Zoology).

From the end of the Civil War to 1975, the University of Murcia experienced a period of complete stagnation, excepted the creation of the Faculty of Medicine in 1968. The university was ruled during that period by the very same dean and only two successive rectors. Due to the lack of perspective, several noted professors moved to other universities. The number of students hardly increased, from 1,036 in 1940 to 2,094 in 1968, while other universities experienced a six-fold increase.

The flag of UMU is dark red with the university's coat of arms, either in red and white (photo) or in full colors (photo, photo).
The two versions of the coat of arms are prescribed in the Manual de Identidad Visual Corporativa, together with a gray and white version.
The red color is prescribed as Pantone 187.

The first coat of arms, adopted in 1915 at the foundation of the university, featured year "1915", the name "Universidad Literaria de Murcia", and the Spanish motto "Noble, Pulcra y Generosa" (Noble, Beautiful and Generous).
In the 1940s, the design was dramatically changed, featuring the figure of Alfonso X, surrounded by two shields representing the provinces that composed the old Kingdom of Murcia: Murcia and Albacete. The year was changed to "1272", traditionally considered as the genuine year of foundation of the first university in Murcia.
In 1982, following the incorporation of the Province of Albacete to Castilla-La Mancha, its coat of arms was dropped and replaced by Alfonso X's proper arms. The original circular shaped was restored from the subsequent oval shape, offering a more geometric representation of the king and using Alfonso's arches [as represented on the miniatures in the Cantigas] in the background.

Ivan Sache, 19 October 2019

Technical University of Cartagena


Flag of UPCT - Image by Luis Miguel Arias (S.E.V. website), 14 October 2019

UPCT (website) was established by Law No. 5 signed on 3 August 1998 by the President of the Region of Murcia and published on 8 August 1998 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 182, and on 2 March 1999 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 52, pp. 8,397-6,401 (text).
The UPCT grouped several pre-existing institutes, often dependencies of the University of Murcia :
- the Technical Superior School of Agronomic Engineering;
- the Technical Superior School of Industrial Engineering;
- the Technical Superior School of Telecommunication Engineering;
- the University School of Technical Civil Engineering;
- the University School of Technical Naval Engineering;
- the Faculty of Business Sciences;
- the University School of Labor Relations;
- the University School of Tourism.

The flag of the UPCT (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is blue with the university's emblem.

The emblem is prescribed in Article 5.2 of the university's Statutes, approved by Decree No. 72 issued on 12 July 2013 by the Government of the Region of Murcia and published on 16 July 2013 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 163, pp. 28,771-28,847 (text).
The emblem of the UPCT shows in the center a golden yellow eight-pointed star, symbol of the Order of Saint Mary of Spain. Inside the star appears a circle quartered with alternated castles and lions on a white and Cartagena red background, taken from the arms of the town of Cartagena. The whole is placed on a blue background and surrounded by the writing "Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena" and the motto "fechos allend mar" on a red stripe outlined in golden yellow.
The very same description appeared in Article 5.2 of the first Statutes of the UCT, approved by Decree No. 111 issued on 30 September 2005 by the Government of the Region of Murcia and published on 7 October 2005 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 232, pp. 21,675-21,717 (text).

Ivan Sache, 14 October 2019