The ceremonial opening of the Mining Academy in Krakow alongside the inauguration of the first academic year was one of the most important events for Poland after over one hundred years of non-existence and the war-related chaos.
The efforts to establish a Polish mining school and to appoint suitable academic staff started in the second half of the 19th century, and became even more intensive when Galicia gained its autonomy in 1860. Intense diplomatic activities were undertaken in Vienna in order to receive favourable consideration by the Austrian government. In 1912, a group of outstanding engineers and mining activists led by Jan Zarański initiated the process of applying for a consent to establish a school of higher education that would educate mining engineers in Krakow. The endeavours were successful – on 10th July 1912, the Krakow authorities obtained the consent to open a university. In April 1913, the Ministry of Public Work in Vienna appointed the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow, chaired by professor Józef Morozewicz. On 31st May 1913, a document approving the establishment of a higher school of mining in Krakow was signed by emperor Francis Joseph I.
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 made it impossible in October to commence the first academic year of the newly-opened university. In a note from a conference held at the offices of Juliusz Leo, President of the city of Krakow, there is a remark in the bottom right corner of one of the documents:
Due to the outbreak of war, the Mining Academy was not opened, the whole matter being postponed to more peaceful times, 21st March 2015.
When Poland regained its independence, the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow, headed by professor Józef Morozewicz, recommenced its intensive work aiming at the opening of the university. On 25th January 1919, the Committee obtained authorisation from Jan Łukasiewicz, Minister of Religious Affairs and Public Education, to begin its activity (MWRiOP – Ministerstwo Wyznań Religijnych i Oświecenia Publicznego; English: Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education). On 8th April 1919, during a session of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of WRiOP put forward an official motion to establish and open the Mining Academy in Krakow.
Bearing in mind a long-felt need of the Polish society to have a higher school of mining that would provide adequately-educated engineers of mining and metallurgy for the purpose of filling the technical posts in our mining and metallurgical areas, the Ministry of WRiOP has taken the decision to organise and open on 1st October 1919 the Mining Academy in Krakow.
The matter is not new, and since 1912 it has already gone through all Austrian government authorities obtaining their approval, however, unfortunately, it has not been taken further.
Undertaking the already-started work, the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy, re-approved by the Ministry of WRiOP, has submitted a number of proposals that after thorough analysis the Ministry intends to accept, thus staffing from 1st April this year 6 departments whose representatives together with the Organising Committee will work out a detailed programme of studies of the Academy, organise, at least provisionally, science labs, and get engaged in the process of adapting the building at 18 Loretańska St, offered for this purpose by the municipality of Krakow.
In April 1919, Minister Jan Łukasiewicz sent documents to the Head of State regarding the appointment of the first professors of the Mining Academy. Six professors were officially appointed by Józeł Piłsudski on 1st May 1919. They were:
In a document sent on this occasion by Minister Jan Łukasiewicz to Antoni Hoborski we can read:
The Head of State, by a resolution of 25th April, has appointed you, as of 1st May 1919, a full professor of mathematics at the Mining Academy in Krakow. Until the statute of the Academy has been published, which will specify your rights and duties as a full professor, you have to work with the Organising Committee of the Academy on the organisation of the university, and once the Academy has been opened, you will deliver lectures and conduct classes appropriately for the needs of science and according to the timetable of lectures and classes. (…) While informing you about the above, I am calling you to come to the General Government of Galicia in order to take an official oath.
On 18th June 1919, the “Official Gazette of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education of the Republic of Poland” published the “Transitional provisions not covered by the statute and legally binding in the Mining Academy in Krakow”:
The Mining Academy will be opened in October 1919 in such a way that enrolment will take place for the first year of studies. The subsequent classes of the Mining Academy will be opened every year until all four years of studies at both faculties (mining and metallurgical) have been organised.
The Ministry of WRiOP entrusts the temporary management of organisational matters to one of the professors of the Academy, as the acting rector. From 1st April 1920, these duties will be fulfilled by a rector elected by professors and approved by the Head of State. At the same time, professors will elect the deans of faculties. The Ministry of WRiOP should be informed about the names of the elected deans.
For the purpose of debating on the appointment of further teaching staff as well as the building and internal decoration of the edifice of the Mining Academy, the Organising Committee, established by the rescript of the Ministry of WRiOP on 25th January 1919 no. 4174/19, is still maintained. While nominated to their posts, the professors of the Mining Academy and the rector become the members of the Committee. The management of the Committee is alternately presided by the president of the Committee and the temporary rector of the Mining Academy. All documents of the Organising Committee will be jointly signed by the president of the Committee and the temporary rector.
On 20th June 1919, the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow, authorised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education, held an open competition for academic posts starting on 1st April 1920 in the departments of the Mining Faculty, and partly in the departments of the Metallurgical Faculty of the Academy. Candidates were required to have appropriate academic and teaching qualifications. In the same month, at the first session of the Faculty of Professors of the Mining Academy, professor Antoni Hoborski was elected Dean of the Mining Faculty, and professor Jan Stock was elected Vice-Dean.
On 20th July 1919, the Ministry of WRiOP published an ordinance specifying the rules of accepting candidates for the first year of studies at the Mining Academy. The number of students was limited to 80. If the number of candidates had been higher, the ministry authorised the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy to administer a competitive entry exam. Four days later, the Dean of the Mining Faculty published a document specifying the rules of accepting candidates for the first year of studies at the Mining Academy. The enrolment, which was also advertised in the press, took place at the beginning of October. Since the number of candidates exceeded the set limit, professor Antoni Hoborski decided to organise a written exam in mathematics and physics, which took place on 9-10 October 1919. A list with the names of accepted students was announced on 13th October.
Students and Krakow citizens impatiently awaited the opening of the new university. The inauguration was initially planned to take place on 18th October 1919. However, the date was moved two days later after information from the Civil Office of Józef Piłsudski, Head of State, that he would participate in the ceremony on 20th October. His visit to Krakow was connected with the celebrations of the Unification of Polish Army, which were planned to be held on 19-20 October.
The ceremony took place in the main hall of the Collegium Novum of the Jagiellonian University. Józef Piłsudski was welcomed by young people forming a line in front of the building decorated with flowers. At the entrance, professor Stanisław Estreicher, rector of the Jagiellonian University, was waiting with deans dressed in robes, holding the sceptre of Queen Jadwiga in his hand. The Senate members, preceded by people carrying university insignia, led the Head of State into the tightly-packed hall. Józef Piłsudski took a seat on the dais, covered for the ceremony with a 16th-century Persian carpet. Seats next to him were taken by: general Józef Haller, general Józef Leśniewski, Minister of Military Affairs, Jan Łukasiewicz, Minister of Religious Affairs and Public Education, Ignacy Szczeniowski, Minister of Industry and Trade, as well as other state dignitaries. Professors sat on benches, and on chairs – the representatives of science, culture and art, industry, and finances, as well as clergy, and the authorities of Krakow.
The rector of the Jagiellonian University came to the lectern and gave a welcome speech. Next, Józef Piłsudski, using an eagle’s feather, made an entry in the Commemorative Book of the Jagiellonian University, also called the King’s Book, which can be seen in the Jagiellonian Library. On the vignette of the parchment sheet with the signature of Piłsudski, there is a graphic design dated 20th October 1919 and signed by Henryk Uziembło, a lieutenant in the Polish Army, showing a group of legionary soldiers from infantry and cavalry in a frame decorated with coats of arms: the legionary eagle in a crown (at the top), the Jagiellonian University and Krakow (on the sides), and the Piłsudski coat of arms – Kościesza (at the bottom).
After making the entry in the book, a speech was given by a representative of the youth, followed by the rector of the Jagiellonian University, who expressed his delight related to the fact that the Mining Academy was joining the group of Krakow schools of higher education. He assured everyone of goodwill and willingness to help on the side of the Jagiellonian University.
After the speeches, Józef Piłsudski stood up and addressed professor Estreicher with the following words:
Your Magnificence, Magnificent Senate, Distinguished Assembly! Hereby, I declare the Mining Academy in Krakow open.
Then, speeches were given by ministers. Jan Łukasiewicz, Minister of Religious Affairs and Public Education, justified the need to establish the Mining Academy in Krakow, and while addressing future mining engineers, he emphasized the fact that it would be their duty not only to extract fossil treasures from the interior of the Earth, but also to obtain from their souls all the virtues that are typical of an exemplary citizen of the country. Ignacy Szczeniowski, Minister of Industry and Trade, emphasized the fact that the Polish industry had high hopes related to the activity of the Mining Academy.
After the speeches of the ministers, the Head of State together with some other celebrities left the university assembly hall. He was accompanied by: Primate Bishop Edmund Dalbor, Rev. Władysław Bandurski, Honorary Chaplain of Brigade I of the Polish Legions, Rev. Stanisław Gall, Military Bishop of the Polish Army, general Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki, Paul Prosper Henrys, Head of French Military Mission to Poland, Jan Kanty Federowicz, President of Krakow, Bishop Adam Sapieha, and the representatives of local military authorities.
In a further part of the ceremony, a speech was given by professor Józef Morozewicz, President of the Organising Committee of the Academy. After welcoming the guests, he presented an outline of the history of the development of mining and vocational education in Poland and around the world, mentioning, inter alia, mining schools in Congress Poland, Galicia, and the “school of Steigers” in Dąbrowa in Austrian Silesia. He reported on many-year efforts aiming at the establishment of a Polish higher school of mining in Krakow. He also presented a detailed description of activities undertaken by the Organising Committee, established in spring 1913, whose work was interrupted by the outbreak of war:
After developing the statute of the Academy, our preparatory activities in the second half of June 1914 were completed. We expected the appointment of professors to take place around 15th July, we were ready after 2 years of preparations to start giving lectures on 15th October of that year.
Unfortunately, World War I, which broke out at the beginning of August, wrecked our hopes, and it seemed to be irretrievable.
But today, after four years of unbelievable torments and worries, we have lived to see a miracle! (…) Poland has started the rebuilding of its own country. And our Committee – among many others – was ready to work.
(…) The work of the Committee and the pre-war efforts have not been wasted. The plan of studies and the programme of education have been revised (…) The statute of the school and the transitional provisions have been sent to the Ministry for approval.
Professor Józef Morozewicz talked about the project of building the university’s edifice, study plans, and academic staff. He also addressed the representatives of the government in relation to extensive help in building the edifice of the Academy. He finished his speech with the following words:
We are standing here today – on such a joyful day of opening the first Polish mining academy – with a certain fear that we have not fulfilled our task the way it should have been fulfilled, the way we wanted to carry it out.
However, the fact that the day has come, that we have come here not alone, but with a flock of mining youth who are about to begin their studies, is not our sole merit.
The lion’s share of the merit goes to the Ministry of WRiOP, which immediately and so eagerly, and with such a great civic attitude began to look after the just-developing school; then – the excellent Municipality of the Royal-Capital City of Krakow, which with such great material means supported the worthy deed; and finally – the glorious Senate of the Jagiellonian University, which offered hospitality to the newly-established school, and which still intends to be helpful to us in a similar way (…).
That’s all on behalf of the Organising Committee, but on my side, I would only like to add (…) addressing the first group of the academic-mining youth and the first group of their professors: God bless you!
After the speech of the President of the Organising Committee, on behalf of the Association of Polish Miners and Metallurgists, a speech was given by engineer Jan Zarański. Recalling many-year endeavours that aimed at opening a Polish mining school, and emphasizing the need to establish it, he said:
At the beginning of the resurrected motherland, there is the present day that shines with inexhaustible light, the day in which the highest dignitaries of the state are taking part in the opening ceremony of the first Polish mining academy. Because from today, our young people who are so eager for the beautiful mining profession will not be forced, as it has been until today, to wander around the world in order to receive vocational education in this, alongside agriculture, possibly the most important branch of industry. (…) in the field of the mining industry, a total lack of an institution of higher education will only now be removed.
That is why the Polish mining professionals are welcoming this day as their great holiday, as the beginning of their great development, which they had an absolute right to expect. It is, therefore, mining with its many-century traditions that may claim a full right to have its own school of higher education, which will take into account the peculiarities of the indigenous industry. The natural treasures of our homeland, hiding in its womb inexhaustible, simply counted in hundreds of years supplies of useful minerals (…) fully justify the need to establish an institution of higher education, and hence the astonishment of large majorities of our society that we have not had one until now. This gap in the chain of our cultural heritage has now been removed, and only from this day we change from hired men on our own land into the rulers of our own mining treasures. Fulfilling the hopes that the mining industry has pinned on the establishment of the Academy will be considerably eased by the fact that our society begins to understand the importance of its tasks, the importance of its development for the country, and the need to base the strong factory industry on our own mining and metallurgical industries. (…)
The Polish mining industry has an unshakeable faith that the created institution will rise to its great challenges, that the guidance important for mining will originate here, and that the graduates taught how to conscientiously perform the serious duties of taming the mysterious forces of nature will be model employees for the well-promising mining industry. We can, however, express a wish that the Academy, not neglecting the theory, should equally well keep an eye on the practical aspects of life and the practical assignments of mining and metallurgy, since their completion will highly determine the further excellent development of the indigenous mining and metallurgical industry. Only through unity between the theory and practice, only through going away from the hitherto prevailing pattern of studies and the extension of the programme into practical, economic and social sciences, the school will manage to satisfy the vital needs. (…)
On behalf of the mining industry, I welcome the creation of the Mining Academy, and from the depth of my heart, I am calling vivat, crescat, floret alma mater of Polish mining.
Next, professor Antoni Hoborski, Dean of the Mining Faculty, appealed to the press to support the university in its further activity, and asked the youth to work hard on the development of the country’s mining industry. Special speeches were given by the representatives of the Lviv Polytechnic School – professor Maksymilian Matakiewicz, Rector, and professor Leon Syroczyński, the Warsaw University of Technology – professor Bronisław Rydzewski, the University of Warsaw – professor Stefan Mazurkiewicz, the University of Lublin – Rev. professor Aleksander Wóycicki, and the Polytechnic Association of Lviv – professor Stanisław Kontkiewicz. Hieronim Kondratowicz, the honourable senior of Polish miners, welcomed with kind words the new gain of the mining knowledge, and wished a bright future to the young generation trying their hand at the mining profession. The last speaker was Władysław Micheyda, a student of the Mining Academy, who addressed the Organising Committee, its President – professor Morozewicz, and a group of professors in order to express his joy with the fact of having a possibility to receive education in his own country.
The ceremony finished with reading out congratulatory letters from the rectors and senates of Polish schools of higher education, and a message from the government of the Republic of Poland, signed by Ignacy Paderewski, who said:
Not being able to be personally present at the opening ceremony of the Academy, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Poland, I am sending the newly-established scientific institution the wishes of the most glorious development. May Poland, which despite having great mining treasures until today did not have a vocational university, gain with the newly-established Academy the most important factor of the well-being and strength of the indigenous mining industry, and may the Academy contribute to the flourishing of the wealth and prosperity of the country.
In the congratulatory letters sent to the Mining Academy there was a lot of happiness and pride in opening the university in Krakow. One of them, dated 23rd October 1919, was sent by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education:
On the occasion of the opening of the Mining Academy, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education has issued the following letter, which is hereby announced to the public:
Gaining independence, Poland immediately began to maintain the golden thread of tradition passed on by the famous Commission of National Education. In the times of servitude, we only dreamt about being able to measure up to free nations in the field of education, now these dreams are beginning to come true. Poland is still drawing up the borders of the country with the sacrificial blood of its sons, there is still fight on the border lands in defence of the Polish identity, the deep wounds of war have not yet started to heal, but the Polish nation has already got eagerly down to rebuilding the Republic of Poland from its foundation – the national education. In all parts of the country there is a quickly growing number of state schools. There are more and more secondary and vocational schools. Universities come into being one after another. However, in our education system, until now we severely lacked a higher school of mining. This painful lack is now a thing of the past. The Council of Ministers by means of the resolution of 8th April 1919 has decided to establish the Mining Academy in Krakow, whose opening we are celebrating today.
May this new, so much needed by Poland school become in time a pride of the country, may it educate courageous employees in the field of Polish mining, may it raise this branch of knowledge and in this way the prosperity of the country so severely touched by the war, may its educators have a positive influence on the spiritual level and social position of mining workers, setting a good example of carrying out service duties to the country, may its students be not only outstanding experts of the mining profession, but also impeccable citizens, taking from the school a solid knowledge, deep respect for ideals, and enthusiasm for work.
With these wishes, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education welcomes the first Polish Mining Academy.
Krakow lived and breathed the momentous ceremony for a long time, and the course of events was widely described by the press. Information and reports related to the ceremony of opening the Mining Academy were published in Krakow newspapers: “Czas”, “Goniec Krakowski”, “Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny”, and “Naprzód”.
The editor of “Nowa Reforma” wrote:
On the benches near the lectern, the seats were taken by professors dressed in ceremonial attire, on the chairs, the outstanding representatives of the world of science, art and literature, industry, finances, politics, and the representatives of the government with three ministers: education, trade and war, and then generals, and so on. At the back, a large number of audience. (…) In this way, Poland is gaining a school of higher education of an academic character, and it is a school that in the contemporary situation may be the most needed.
On 8th November 1919, professors Antoni Hoborski, Stefan Kreutz, and Jan Stock sent a letter of thanks to Józef Piłsudski:
Dear Chief of State,
The professors of the Mining Academy in Krakow, at the first session after the opening of the University, are kindly asking you to accept our warm and heartfelt thanks for adding splendour with your presence to the ceremony of opening the first school on the Polish land, whose ideals will always involve carrying the standard of knowledge and science, wakening up in weak hearts the faith in their own capabilities, and educating the courageous pioneers of the mining and metallurgical industry, the strongest foundation of the national wealth of our Motherland.
The foundation on which the university was built, the great hopes that were pinned on the university from the very beginning, as well as the traditions and the mission that has been carried out for 99 years are now described in the Statute of the AGH University of Science and Technology:
The Academy, being a technical university, serves science, the economy and society by means of educating students, the development of academic staff, and conducting scientific research. The university cherishes its traditions and educates students to be honest and responsible people both at work and as the members of the society, according to its motto: “Labore creata, labori et scientiae servio”.
Text by Katarzyna Wrzoszczyk, AGH UST Department for Information and Promotion – on the basis of:
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