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UNAM Through Time

A chronological history of UNAM A chronological list of UNAM Rectors

An election year, General Juan Andreu Almazán emerged as the candidate for the National Unity Revolutionary Party or PRUN, and gained much popularity. PAN sought to nominate Luis Cabrera, a prestigious figure who had opposed Cárdenas’ government, but he refused the candidacy.

The Second World War began to spread throughout Europe. The creation of The College of Mexico was proposed with the dissolution of the House of Spain. The exiled Spanish intellectuals were fully incorporated into the diverse higher education and research institutions in Mexico, a step that greatly benefited UNAM.

The Comparative Law Institute began its functions within the National School of Jurisprudence. At the same time, the Center for Philosophical Studies was created as a dependency of the College of Philosophy and Literature. The Code for the Election of College and School’s Directorial Candidates was approved.

The integration section became the Department of Incorporated Universities and Schools. General Ávila Camacho was elected president amidst the inconformity of General Almazán’s followers, who would not accept their candidate’s defeat since he had presumably won the election. Nevertheless, the official winner was Ávila Camacho, who became president on December 1st. The following day, Doctor Baz resigned.

His resignation was not accepted, but he was given a leave of absence and appointed Honorary President. He went on to preside over the Ministry of Health and Assistance while Mario de la Cueva became acting University president.


Upon his repatriation, José Vasconcelos was appointed head of the National Library in place of Aurelio Manrique. The Institute of Economic Research was created within the National School of Economics, and the journal Economic Research published its first numbers.

Philosophy and Literature, a journal dedicated to philosophy, literature and history, also began publication. It included papers by Mexican and Spanish teachers, as well as translations of important international texts. The Laboratory of Medical and Biological Studies also began activities.

The Code of Teaching Incorporation and that of Study Ratification and Certification of Degrees and Titles were issued. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. entered Word War II, which had, so far been limited to the Eurasian territory. Soon after, Mexico declared war on the Axis powers.

Con el bombardeo a Pearl Harbor, en Hawai, los Estados Unidos decidieron su ingreso a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, hasta entonces limitada al ámbito euro-asiático. Posteriormente, México declararía la guerra a las potencias del Eje


Ávila Camacho’s policy of national unity was displayed in a colorful ceremony that took place in the Zócalo of Mexico City. All of the Republic’s former presidents, now repatriated, were present.

On June 19th, Rodulfo Brito Foucher became University president and Alfonso Noriega Cantú was appointed secretary general. The advantages of building a large university campus arose once more. Rules for the election of University counselors were established.


The National College was created by presidential decree and among its founders were many distinguished university members. It was decided that the University campus would be built in San Angel.

The Press and Information Department began functions. The University president proposed the creation of four scientific research departments. More important was the code that created the position of Career University Professor.


The University General Statute underwent revisions. After a relatively peaceful period, there was a clash between students and authorities around the middle of the year. University President Brito Foucher subsequently resigned. On July 29th, a Board of Directors including Manuel Gual Vidal, Octavio Medellín Ostos and Raúl Cervantes Ahumada was appointed.

The University Council met to create a new Organic Law project that would be presented to Congress by President Ávila Camacho. A group of former University presidents approved the Bases for the Provisional Government of the University.

The conflict that had brought about Brito Foucher’s resignation, and whose epicenter had been the National Preparatory High School, came to an end when Alfonso Caso was elected University president on August 14th. On September 30th, Congress approved a new Organic Law of the University, which the president signed on the 30th of December.

While it became effective, it was approved by the University Council and, in order to ensure that the institution would not cease activities, the 1942 study codes were authorized to remain in force.

On October 23rd, the members of the first University Board of Trustees, Alejandro Quijano, Roberto Casas Alatriste and Evaristo Araiza, were introduced to the University Council. The degreeand the Department of Psychology in the College of Philosophy and Literature were created, as were the Departments of Humanities and Scientific Research, which preceded the current Coordinators’ Offices.

A group of teachers from the Summer School, which received nearly two thousand students at this time, was sent to teach courses on Mexican culture in the city of San Antonio. Their first quarters were at the San Antonio Vocational School.


The text of the new Organic Law of the University was published on January 6th in the Official Daily. The new law established a Governing Body made up of 15 outstanding academics and a Board of Trustees, and assigned maximum authority to the University president and the University Council, as well as establishing the authority of the heads of schools, colleges and institutes, with the respective advisory boards as in the case of the schools.

The new General Statute was derived from the Organic Law. The members of the first Governing Body were: Antonio Caso, Manuel Gómez Morín and Fernando Ocaranza, former University presidents, Manuel Sandoval Vallarta, Ignacio Chávez, Mariano Hernández, Jesús Silva Herzog, Manuel Martínez Báez, Abraham Ayala González, Federico Mariscal, Alfonso Reyes, Ricardo Caturegli, José Torres Torija, Gabino Fraga and Alejandro Quijano.

Antonio Caso refused the position and was substituted by Mario de la Cueva. The General Statute was approved in March. The History Institute was created and the National Nursing School split from Medicine. Genaro Fernández MacGregor, thinker and writer, was appointed University president on March 24th. The Coordinators’ Offices of Humanitiesand Scientific Research were created, with their respective advisory boards comprised by institute heads.

In international news, atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in August and World War II came to an end with Germany’s defeat. A new international era with two great opposing powers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, began.

The United Nations was founded, and Mexico became a member upon its inception. Miguel Alemán Valdés, who was then Minister of Government, was the PRM’s chosen presidential candidate. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ezequiel Padilla, received independent support. The electoral campaign energized the last months of the year.

The Code for Career Faculty and other regulations derived from the new legislation were under discussion at the University, and this included the competitive examinations required of professors. On the last day of the year, Congress approved the law initiative for the founding and building of University City. The decree that institutes the National Prize of Sciences and Arts was published in the Official Daily.


Miguel Alemán and Ezequiel Padilla began their presidential campaigns. The PRM became the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI. Miguel Alemán won, despite strong support for Padilla. Article 3 of the Constitution was amended once again.

Socialist education was suppressed. Aside from Portes Gil, Miguel Alemán was the first non-military president of the post revolutionary era, a fact that was highlighted when he came to power—-the first UNAM alumnus to do so. He belonged to the 20-24 generation of the National Preparatory High School, which also included personalities such as Alejandro Gómez Arias, Frida Kahlo and other outstanding Mexicans.

The decree for the creation of the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature was published. Antonio Caso was appointed Professor Emeritus at the University and died this same year. The University of Mexico Magazine made a comeback under the name it originally had when Julio Jiménez Rueda established it in 1930.

A movement against University president Genaro Fernández MacGregor eventually led to his resignation and Doctor Salvador Zubirán Anchondo took his place on March 4th. On April 6th, the Official Daily published the law regarding the foundation and building of University City.

In September, the same source published an expropriation decree for certain plots of land in Pedregal de San Angel, which were destined for University City. On August 30th, the modifications to the codes for Career Faculty and Career Researcher, as well as employee and academic pensions were approved.

The code regarding the Graduate School, which sought to establish a sort of graduate division for all degrees, was also approved. The project, however, never took off even though its name appeared in the Statute General.

The University honored Manuel M. Ponce by naming him director for life at the National School of Music, and conferred the title of Researcher Emeritus to Isaac Ochoterena, Ezequiel Ordóñez and Joaquín Gallo. They became honorary heads of the Institute of Biology, Institute of Geology and the Astronomical Observatory.


New dependencies were created and preexistent ones were reorganized. Among the changes worthy of mention was the creation of the General Office of Academic Activities and Cultural Dissemination, which included the Summer School among its dependencies.

The School Department became the General Office of School Services. The Personnel Section was raised to the Office category as a dependency of the General Secretariat. Engineer Ricardo Monges López was appointed honorary director of the College of Sciences. The payment code for 1948, approved this year, set a 25-peso registration fee, and tuition fees between 80 and 200 pesos.

Extraordinary exams were 10 pesos. National life continued uneventfully, while post-war Europe began its reconstruction process.


The Mexican government was forced to devaluate the peso, fixing an $8.65 exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. In other news, the Mexican left regrouped to form the “Partido Popular.” The leaders were Narciso Bassols and Vicente Lombardo Toledano; the latter became the head of the organization.

The Comparative Law Institute became autonomous and a student movement against University president Zubirán forced him to resign. Alfonso Ochoa Ravizé was acting president until June 1st, when he was replaced by Luis Garrido.

The revision of the payment code approved a decrease in the cost of registrations fees, from 25 to 20 pesos, and, in the case of tuition, from 80 and 200 to 65 and 180 pesos. The cost of extraordinary exams went down 6 pesos.


During this year, the student population reached 23 thousand 192 students, out of which 19 thousand 242 were men, 3 thousand 950 were women and 6 thousand 487 were sophomores of either sex. The Code of the University Council was approved and the Union of Latin-American Universities was created.

On February 5th, Pascual Ortiz Rubio became the new president of the Republic. Narciso Bassols headed the Ministry of Education. The University paid homage to Portes Gil. The VII National Student Congress was celebrated in Monterrey.

A conflict in the School of Fine Arts resulted in the resignation of its head, Diego Rivera, who was replaced by Vicente Lombardo Toledano. In July, the Code of the Revenue and Administrative Commission, whose function was to design the University’s budget, was approved. Early steps were taken towards the building of a main campus,University City, and the president agreed to the acquisition of some land in Lomas de Chapultepec.

In November, the Code for the Provision of University Faculty, which established the diverse faculty categories, was approved. In December, the Code of University Extension, whose function was to offer education to those who could not attend the University, was approved. The year came to a close with the opening of the First Ibero-American Student Congress.