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It was founded on January 5, 1728 by the Dominican friars belonging to the Order of Preachers and is the oldest university in Cuba. It is also one of the first in America. It is attached to the Ministry of Higher Education (MES). It was declared a National Monument by Resolution 03 on October 10, 1978.

On January 5, 1728, the first university of Cuba, the "Royal and Pontifical University of San Geronimo de La Habana", was born in the Convent of San Juan de Letrán. At the opening ceremony, Fray Tomás Linares del Castillo was appointed as the First rector, who from that moment would govern the first faculties: Art and Philosophy, Theology, Canons, Laws and Medicine.

On January 2, 1733, the first statutes of the University were presented; However, it was not until August 1735 that they came into force. In them it was established that the government of the University should be constituted by a Rector, a Vice-rector, four conciliarios, a Master of Ceremonies and a Secretary. Each year the Cloister Mayor would hold the elections for these positions. In this first stage was highlighted an important professor: Tomás Romay, author of transcendental investigations in the field of medicine and biology.

After a process of reforms, the University of San Gerónimo de la Habana became a lay institution, and in 1850 changed the name to "Real and Literary University of Havana." In this second stage the scientific development in the University was deepened. With this objective it was founded the Museum of Natural History and the National Botanical Garden happened to be governed by the institution. By that time the teaching had the faculties of Jurisprudence, Medicine, Surgery and Pharmacy.

Figures such as Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Antonio Bachiller and Morales, Felipe Poey, Francisco de Arango and Parreño, passed through their classrooms in these initial stages. They contributed to forge an indigenous national thought that became revolutionary commitment for the new generations. A transcendental fact was the murder of eight medical students in 1871, accused with false evidence and testimony. College students now pay homage to those martyrs. In this period occurred other core facts of the university history as the graduation of the first woman, Mercedes Riba, on September 23, 1885.

Under the ideas of the Varona plan, in this period the most modern teaching ideas of the time are taken to the university. However, the structural conditions of the San Juan de Letrán building were not the best: it became uncomfortable and inadequate.

On May 1, 1902 began the transfer of the University to the Hill of Aróstegui, also known as the "Loma de la Pirotecnia", and located in the Vedado. At this time also an important stage of its history began; Events such as the founding of the University Student Federation, the pronouncement of the speeches of José Antonio Echeverría, the descent by its broad and wide staircase of the centenary generation in its historic March of the torches and the courage shown by its students are some of the events that may be mentioned.

In January 1928, Havana hosted the 6th Pan American Conference, which was attended by presidents and representatives of countries of the American continent, including US President Calvin Coolidge. For this reason, President Gerardo Machado inaugurated several works including the steps of the University of Havana, which was pending execution since the general reconstruction of the premises.

Starting at the esplanade that is in front of the rectory building, the staircase ends in San Lazaro Street, to preside it was placed a sculpture that became an emblem of the institution. The Alma Mater was made in 1919 by Czechoslovakian artist Mario Karbel, who was inspired by two Cubans: Felicia Villalón, a 16-year-old girl (for the head, face and neck), and a mestizo habanera of a mature and solid constitution (For the rest of the body).

On October 6, 1933, the Government of the Hundred Days, presided over by the university professor Ramón Grau San Martín granted to the campus the autonomy university, fulfilling one of the demands of the students from the time of the university reform that initiated in 1923, Julio Antonio Mella.

After the revolutionary triumph of 1959, the doors of the University of Havana were reopened, which were closed for 3 years. From that moment it is given access to the entire people and with the University Reform of 1962 it is purified the student body and the cloister follower of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. It also puts science at the heart of university education. The new university is from that moment protagonist and important arm of the Revolution to create a new Cuba.

Thanks to the Alma Mater habanera, the Jose Antonio Echeverría Higher Polytechnic Institute, the Medical Sciences, the Pedagogical Superior, the Agricultural Sciences and the agricultural sciences of Pinar del Río and Matanzas were born as well as more than 50 doctoral programs and another generation of university students who have given it a place in history.

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