University History

The origins of the University go back to the VIII century AD thanks to the foundation of the celebrated Salerno medical school, an authoritative, prestigious, sanitary institution, which remained important throughout the whole Medieval Age. In addition to teaching medicine, the school also taught philosophy, theology and law. However, according to some historians, it was only after the second half of the IX century with the constitution of the Lombard principality of Salerno that it was possible to determine the establishment of an institute, which trained and produced doctors. A direct link across the centuries can be hypothesized between the traditional Salerno medicine of the Lombard Age and older medical practice of the Greek –Roman period which puts Salerno in first place, rather than its contender Bologna, for having the oldest university established in Europe.

Having obtained its first legal recognition in the Constitutions of Melfi (1231) and the title of Studium in the time of Conrad II, the Salerno medical school received its first statute from Charles of Anjou (1280). Later, Queen Jeanne formally recognised the legal value of the certification given to graduating doctors (1359), thus breaking the monopoly held until then by the Study of Naples, set up by Frederick II in 1224.

As time went on the Salerno medical school had its highs and lows, linked to the fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples, until 1811 when Joachim Murat, intent on reorganizing public education in the Neopolitan realm, decided to close the University of Salerno and turn it into a “Real Liceo.” These high schools were really proper university schools located in the largest cities of the realm and all dependent on the University of Naples. With the Bourbon Restoration of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, this university system remained practically intact, and indeed, immediately after the Restoration, with a decree on 14 January 1817, King Ferdinand I of Bourbon established that in Salerno, as in Bari, Aquilla and Catanzaro, the “Reali Licei” would teach law and notary work, anatomy and physiology, surgery and obstetrics, chemistry and pharmacy, legal medicine and other sciences.

The teaching activities of the Salerno school went on for centuries but were finally suppressed shortly after the unity of Italy when, in 1865, the “Real Liceo” was closed and its Convitto became the Liceo-Ginnasio, “Torquato Tasso”.

This happened because the Sabaudian government of the newborn Kingdom of Italy extended its organization of universities to all the new states following their annexation. Naturally, even the different university system of the ex-Kingdom of Two Sicilies had to be completely reformed and conform to new national politics. It was almost a century before the University of Salerno was re-established.

In 1944, a university institute of arts and education (Istituto universitario di Magistero) was established in the city, on the express wish of Giovanni Cuomo, and in 1968, this became part of the state system and was called the Facoltà di Magistero of the University of Salerno. In only a few years, this Faculty of Arts and Education was joined by several other different faculties, which formed the basis of an expanding university structure. The Faculty of Literature and Philosophy was instituted in1969, the Faculty of Economics and Commerce in 1970, the Faculties of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences and of Law in 1972, the complete course of Engineering in 1983, the Faculty of Pharmacy in 1991, that of Politics in 1992, Foreign Language and Literature in 1996 and finally the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 2006.

The University Rectors, in chronological order, are as follows:

  • Gabriele De Rosa (1969-1974)
  • Nicola Cilento (1974-1977)
  • Aristide Savignano (1977-1978)
  • Luigi Amirante (1978-1980)
  • Vincenzo Buonocore(1980-1987)
  • Roberto Racinaro (1987-1995
  • Giorgio Donsi (1995 -2001)
  • Raimondo Pasquino (2001-2013)
  • Aurelio Tommasetti (2013-2019)
  • Vincenzo Loia (in office since 1 November 2019)