:: History
Crest of the Academy of Mining in Kielce, 1816-1827
Current crest
Data in a chart

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by Professor Antoni S. Kleczkowski

Before the Academy was founded (from the late 18th century to 1912) the attempts to have mining engineering and metallurgy taught in Poland at the college or university level date back to the period of Hugo Kołłątaj's first reforms of the Krakow Academy - the Chief Crown School (1777-1783). The first Poles left Poland to study mining engineering in Freiberg in 1780 and in Schemnitz in 1788. The Academy of Mining in Kielce (the capital city of the Krakow province at that time) existed from 1816 to 1827, following the model of the Saxon Freiberg. It was founded, established and inaugurated thanks to the initiative of two statesmen: Stanisław Kostka Potocki and Stanisław Staszic. There were 100 students; 45 of them completed their education. It was the first technical university in Poland (the Polytechnic in Warsaw existed in its preliminary form in the years 1826-1831). At that time Poland was divided between three invading nations: Prussia, Russia and Austria - it was possible to establish the system of mining education at the university level in Austria only, particularly after the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy adopted the constitution in 1867. The need for a Polish university was proved by a number of Polish students studying mining engineering in schools abroad. It is estimated that between 1780 and 1920 their number was about 1500, and after 1870, as many as 1300 students began their courses. More than 50% of them studied at schools within the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy (Leoben, Pirbram, Schemnitz), 13% went to Freiberg and 11% to Petersburg. The remaining 25% went to study in France, Belgium and Germany. There were more than 300 Poles studying abroad around the year 1910. Throughout the years 1868-1880 the National Department and the Galician Parliament used to apply for the establishment of a mining academy, yet to no avail. At the beginning of the 20th century the initiative to start mining studies was taken over by associations of professional engineers.

Laying the foundations (1912-1914); Academy establishment (1913)
The year 1912 proved to be a turning point in these endeavours. During the conference of delegations of Polish miners and metallurgists held on 24 February in the building of "Akademia Umiejętnoœci" (Academy of Arts and Sciences) in Krakow, the delegates passed a resolution indicating the need to establish the Academy of Mining in Krakow. A dynamic support campaign was started in the Vienna Parliament, with the help of members of the Polish Fraction. On 10 July, 1912, the Ministry of Public Work in Vienna notified the Presiding City Board of Krakow of the decision that a mining engineering academy was to be opened in Krakow. In April 1913 the Organising Committee, chaired by Professor Józef Morozewicz, was appointed. By force of the Supreme Order issued by the Emperor Francis Joseph on 31 May, 1913, the Academy of Mining was established in Krakow (Act no Z.30.048/XV/1913 issued by the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Public Works). In November 1913 the first Professor, Jan Zarański, was appointed and the motion for nomination of further six individuals was submitted. Funds were made over to the academy, a building site was obtained and the competition for the architectural designs was announced. Candidates for senior positions were sent abroad for training.

Time of construction and stabilisation (1919-1939)
The Organising Committee re-commenced its activity and handed over to the Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Education a resolution whereby the inauguration was scheduled for 1 October 1919. During the debate on 8 April, 1919, the Government accepted this resolution. The Head of the State, Józef Piłsudski, nominated six professors on 1 May, 1919, and on 20 October, 1919, he inaugurated the Academy of Mining in the hall of Collegium Novum of the Jagiellonian University. In the autumn of 1919, 80 students started their education at the Faculty of Mining. The Faculty of Metallurgy was opened in the academic year 1922/23. In 1939 the Academy had about 600 students and 30 professors. In the twenty-year period between 1919 and 1939, professors working at the Academy came from the Jagiellonian University (30%), the Technical University in Lvov (11%), Russian schools (29%), universities in Austria (16%), and some of them were the Academy graduates. The period 1928-1931 was a turning point - it was in these years when the Academy gained its own buildings (the main building, the building at Krzemionki, a machine laboratory, a student hostel, a house for professors). The first doctor's degrees and the posts of assistant professor were granted. Between 1919 and 1939 the Academy educated 797 mining and metallurgy engineers; about 100 foreign diplomas were granted official recognition. 7 persons obtained their doctor's degrees (since 1928) and postdoctoral qualifications (Doctor Habilitatus). It was the major achievement when Polish engineers (Academy graduates) took over senior posts in industry, particularly in Upper Silesia and the new industrial centres. On 6 November, 1939, the task forces of the Nazi police and security service arrested 183 persons, including 132 professors and assistant professors in the building of Collegium Novum of the Jagiellonian University, as part of Sonderaktion Krakau. 21 professors and assistant professors of the Academy of Mining were detained at that time and sent to a Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen by Oranienburg, near Berlin. Several staff members died in the camp. They were: Associate Professor dr Antoni Meyer, a miner and lawyer (24.12.1939); Professor Władysław Tekliński - Rector (24.01.1940); Professor Antoni Hoborski - the first Rector of the Academy (9.02.1940). The main building was occupied by the German General Government. The building at Krzemionki managed to retain the State School of Technology, Surveying, Mining and Metallurgical Engineering run by Walery Goetel. It was not only the hiding place for the university staff and students, but also a centre of underground teaching, vital for the future development of the school.

Time of reconstruction (1945-1949)
Immediately after the Germans fled from Krakow (18.01.1945), a group of professors, other staff members and students secured the ruined main building. More than 500 students started their courses in the academic year 1944/45 (April-October 1945, with no holidays); 250 completed the courses. After 1945 the Academy gave an active support to the post-war development of Polish technical universities. The Academy played a major role in the establishment of the Technical University in Krakow (the main part was the Polytechnic Faculty of the Academy of Mining), the Silesian Polytechnics, (23 Academy graduates were professors there) and the Technical University of Częstochowa. The Academy supported the reconstruction of the Technical University in Warsaw and the organisation of the Technical Universities in Wrocław and Gdańsk. It became necessary to get more professors in order to replace those who perished during the war. 24 new academic staff members came to the Academy in the years 1945-49: 10 persons from the Technical University in Lvov, 3 persons from the Lvov University; 3 persons from the Jagiellonian University and 3 from other schools. The human potential of the Academy was vastly improved in several areas of expertise: machine construction (9 persons); electrical engineering (3 persons); Earth sciences (6 persons). In 1946 new faculties were opened: the Faculty of Geology and Surveying, and the Faculty of Ceramics. That meant broadening the Academy programme, particularly in the field of natural science, high technologies and materials engineering. In 1949 the Academy was renamed and henceforth has been known as Academy (and later University) of Mining and Metallurgy, though the term "mining" had for ages covered metallurgy as well. In 2003 the name of the University was changed to the AGH University of Science and Technology (AGH-UST).

Time of development (1950-1979)
Universities suffered from restrictions imposed on their autonomy until 1956, these restrictions being the result of the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) policy, after the unification of communist parties. From 1956 to 1969 the University authorities were still elected though their freedom of action was vastly limited. Afterwards, the autonomy and elections were suspended for more than 10 years. Political pressure following the events in March 1968 did affect the Jubilee in 1969. The university, having ten faculties at that time, was given the name the Stanisław Staszic University of Mining and Metallurgy, as well as the imposed structure based on institutes. In the changing political aura, the University was at least able to improve its facilities. The largest increase in the building space was noted in the decade 1949-1959. During the 30-year period, from 1950 to 1979, the number of students went up from 2000 to 13000.

Defending the dignity and existence of the University; Modern era (1980-2000)

Summing up
This development and retaining the AGH-UST identity was regarded as a matter of key importance and is now reflected by mining and metallurgical traditions that are still observed at the University. There are also some special institutions, such as:

  • The Association of AGH-UST Alumni with 10000 members in the early 2000, furthering links between the University and its graduates and industry;
  • The Convention of Seniors, established in 1985, going back to the Old Sage Society, an opinion and initiative-making body grouping retired professors who formerly held positions of authority at the University.

During the 80-year period (except for the war years from September 1939 until January 1945), 73085 students graduated from the University, having obtained master's or bachelor's degrees. 3607 persons were granted the degree of Doctor of Science, 896 successfully completed postdoctoral qualifications (Doctor Habilitatus). The AGH-UST researchers published nearly 60000 papers and books. The University, first opened in 1919, had several turning points in its history: the outbreak of World War II (1939) and transformation periods (1949, 1969, 1979, 1989). After 1945 University Jubilees seemed to coincide with the decline and falls of subsequent governments, and these facts were also reflected in the academic life. The data and statistics compiled in a graphic form bear out this statement.

The University has always lived up to its motto: "Labore creata, labori et scientiae servis" (Created in labour, I serve labour and science).