The First Universities in Hispanic America p.2
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The First Universities in Hispanic America p.2

November 2022

Part 2

As stated in The First Universities in Hispanic America, over thirty universities were founded between the 16th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Among the first ten, the first three were the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (1538), the University of Lima in Perú (1551), and the University of Mexico (1551), profiled in the previous issue of Hispanic Outlook.

The remaining seven pioneering universities were the following, listed in chronological order:

4-Charcas, Chuquisaca o La plata, Bolivia (1552)

It was friar Tomás de San Martín, founder of the University of Lima, who took the first step to request a university for Charcas, which was granted by a royal decree dated July 11, 1552. However, for unknown reasons, it was not until March 22, 1623, that the foundation took place thanks to The Society of Jesus and Father Juan de Frías Herrán’s, provincial of Perú, negotiations. Frías Herrán also consolidated the foundation on March 27, 1624. It acquired all its practices from the University of Lima and, needless to say, the University of Salamanca. It persists today as Universidad Mayor Real y Pontificia de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca.

5-Santiago de la Paz, Dominican Republic (1558)

The second university in Santo Domingo, called Santiago de la Paz, was born as a Colegio, part of the legacy of Gorjón, a landowner who donated his assets and entrusted the Dominican Order to found the school. It changed its category to university by Phillip II’s royal decree dated February 23, 1558. It passed through different hands and even changed its status more than once. It was a college, a university, a conciliar seminary, and finally, a convent university that the Jesuits successfully re-established. Unfortunately, it did not last long. It disappeared when the Jesuits were expelled by Charles III, in 1767.

6-Tomista de Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia (1580)

This university was the first to be founded in the territory of New Granada in the convent of the Dominicans under the Romanur Pontifex bull, issued by Gregory XIII on June 13, 1580. However, due to economic problems, the founding bull was not enforced until the beginning of the 17th century. Its first statutes were made by archbishop Fernando Arias de Ugarte in collaboration with the prior of the Dominicans, and approved by President Juan de Borja on April 1, 1626.

7-San Fulgencio de Quito, Ecuador (1586)

The Augustinians were granted the opening of the first university in what today is Ecuador by Pope Sixtus V on August 20, 1586. However, due to a long process of negotiations, it did not start until December 1603. Unfortunately, it closed in 1786 when Charles III from Spain banned the Augustinians from granting college degrees.

8-Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Santiago de Chile, Chile (1619)

In 1589, the Dominicans asked the King for their convent in Santiago de Chile to become a university. While awaiting an answer and supported by Paul V’s Brief dated March 11, 1619, they constituted their Universidad de Nuestra Señora del Rosario with colleges of Arts and Theology. This university was later known as Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino (1622-1741).

9-Javeriana de Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia (1621)

At the beginning of the 17th century, Alonso de Medrano, Martín de Funes, and Diego de Torres Bollo, all from Salamanca, founded the Colegio Máximo de la Compañía de Santa Fe, the precursor of the Javeriana University. Thanks to the Society of Jesus’ request, the Javeriana was inaugurated by two documents: the Pontifical Brief In Supereminenti issued by Pope Gregory XV, on July 9, 1621, and the royal decree issued by Phillip III of Spain on February 2, 1622. The former authorized the Society of Jesus to grant college degrees, and the latter commanded the authorities in Hispanic America to execute the Pontifical Brief.

The university closed in 1767 when the Jesuits were expelled, but reopened in 1930.

10-Córdoba, Argentina (1621).

The National University of Córdoba dates back to the Colegio Máximo de la Compañía de Jesús, which the Society of Jesus opened and managed in the first quarter of the 17th century under the tutelage of Bishop Juan Fernando de Trejo y Sanabria. Thanks to Trejo y Sanabria’s negotiations, the Apostolic Brief of Pope Gregory XV authorized the Colegio to grant degrees on August 8, 1621, ratified by royal decree from Phillip IV on February 2, 1622, thus becoming a university. The Franciscans took over the university when the Jesuits were expelled in 1767. Later on, by royal decree in 1800, it was handed over to the secular clergy and renamed Real Universidad de San Carlos y de Nuestra Señora de Monserrat. In 1856, it was nationalized, and it is currently the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.


García Guadilla, C. (2008). Pensadores y forjadores de la universidad latinoamericana IESALC-UNESCO / CENDES / Bid & Co editores CA, page 57-100

La Universidad de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca (Alto Perú)

UNMSM. Fundación de la Universidad de Santo Domingo

Historia (de la Javeriana)

Universidad de San Fulgencio,extender%20t%C3%ADtulos%20o%20grados%20universitarios.

La Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino (Image 1)

Universidad Nacional de Córdoba – Reseña histórica