1825-1900

Thus the University of Macerata, having been Communal for centuries, became papal, or in other words a State University. Having survived the inspection of the Congregation and despite the continuing severe financial problems, which threatened its closure, the Studium was adequately organized and the scholastic year 1825-6 was solemnly inaugurated. There were 4 Faculties (with 20 professorships): theology, Law, medicine and surgery and Philosophy, as well as physics, natural history, anatomy and pathology laboratories. There was also a chemistry and pharmacy lab, a botanic garden to which was also annexed an agricultural laboratory: a subject which was taught for a few years and then dropped but which was reinstated in 1859.

But already in this period the first movements of the Risorgimento were being felt and the University echoed the unrest. The students rioted against the papal authority and many of them became soldiers in the National Guard; numerous professors sided with the students and some (like the famous doctor Francesco Puccinotti) lost their professorships in 1831, the year in which the University was closed as a result of everything. It was closed again in 1849 with a further dismissal of professors or their suspension.

The following year the University was re-opened but the doors were closed to those who were suspected of not “having irreproachable conduct in their affairs”. Some were not admitted, others were subjected to special surveillance.

The Papal University continued to limp on amid a thousand difficulties until 1860 when The Marche region was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Lorenzo Valerio, nominated Royal Commissioner for The Marche, with the decree of 2nd November 1860, promulgated the Sardinian Law known as the “Casati Law” which entrusted the government with the implementation of higher education. The University of Macerata began life as a Royal University with the usual Faculties (except Theology which had been closed by Valerio) and a School of Land Surveying to which the Faculty of Pharmacy and a School of Notaries were soon added.

Unlike the two other Universities in The Marche who requested and obtained their freedom, Macerata preferred to remain a State University. But the State totally neglected it especially when it came to finances with the result that the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery had to be closed in 1862. For a short time following this closure special courses in Pharmacy, obstetrics and minor surgery survived and in 1868 a preparatory course in veterinary was added but it did not last long and was closed along with Pharmacy. As all the Faculties gradually disappeared only Law remained with few students, few books, few professors and little money making the closing of the University appear inevitable.

But “it is at this point that a miracle occurred” to quote a realistic viewpoint. Heeding the entreaties of the citizens who wanted to avert its closure, first the Local Authority and then, from 1869 onwards, also the Provincial government, intervened with hefty subsidies. They gave concrete help and worked with determination to re-launch the University. This continued until 1880 when a syndicate was set up between the University, the Local Authority and the Provincial government. This was approved by Royal Decree no. 5236 in which the University was given second class status, the State continued to pay its annual contribution and the Casati Law was recognized as governing it. So it was the Syndicate that saved the University and put it on its feet again.

Last update Nov 14, 2012
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