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UNAM Through Time

A chronological history of UNAM A chronological list of UNAM Rectors
In April of this year, Justo Sierra launched the Constituent Law of the National School of Higher Studies, which would become part of the university.

Later, on April 26th, he set the National University's founding project in motion. The new institution would be comprised of the National Preparatory High School and the School of Higher Studies, along with the schools of Jurisprudence, Medicine, Engineering and Arts (Architecture).

The project was approved and the National University of Mexico was solemnly inaugurated on September 22nd. The universities of Salamanca, Paris and Berkeley were its "godmothers."

Joaquín Eguía y Lis was the first president. From that moment onwards, the teachers and students working at the above-mentioned national schools became members of the University. The old guard of orthodox positivism repudiated the

University's investiture. Agustín Aragón and Horacio Barreda attacked it in Positivist Magazine because, according to them, it threatened national progress.

They argued that this kind of institution belonged to the metaphysical stage of human development, and Mexico had already surpassed that phase. The young Antonio Caso, who was University Secretary and president of the Athenaeum of Youth (an association that opposed positivism and many of whose members would later make outstanding contributions to the University), defended the institution.

The debate between Caso and Aragón allowed for an analysis on these two different stances on higher education


The young university spent its first days amid the explosion of the revolutionary war. Little by little, the political crisis, brought about by Francisco I. Madero's uprising, affected the University. In March, Porfirio Díaz asked for the resignation of most of his cabinet, including those of Justo Sierra and his faithful collaborator, Ezequiel A. Chávez, who served as sub-Minister.

The exception was the Revenue Minister, José Limantour. Jorge Vera Estañol replaced Sierra, however two months later, Porfirio Díaz presented his own resignation.

With the arrival of a new president, Francisco León de la Barra, Doctor Francisco Vázquez Gómez occupied the Public Instruction post. Eguía y Liz remained the University president.

The orthodox positivists Aragón and Barreda presented an initiative at the Deputy Chamber requesting the disappearance of the University and the School of Higher Studies.

Porfirio Díaz

The professional schools and the higher education institutions could then continue to exist independently, as setting aside an individual budget for a division such as Higher Studies proved too expensive when necessity was to bring basic education to the general population.

The XXV Legislature did not follow the request.


In spite of the growing political effervescence, Madero's administration opened up all kinds of new opportunities for the nation. Vice President José María Pino Suárez took over the Public Instruction Ministry.

The country was in turmoil and the University was no exception. Luis Cabrera, who had played an outstanding role as an opposition journalist during the porfiriato and who had unquestionably won a post as district deputy in Mexico City, was serving as director of the School of Jurisprudence when the students went on strike to protest the examination methods he had introduced.

By July 3rd, the students (or at least a majority of them) decided to abandon the University and form a new training establishment, the Free School of Law. The School of Jurisprudence was reopened on July 15th.

In October, the driving force behind the University, Justo Sierra, died. He received homage at the National Preparatory High School and President Madero attended the ceremony.

Once the period of ordinary sessions at the Deputy Chamber of the XXVI Legislature began, the deputies took charge of the University. The petition of the orthodox positivists Aragón and Barreda was brought back and the University and the School of Higher Studies became the focus of parliamentary debate.

Félix F. Palavicini, Rafael de la Mora and Alfonso Cabrera presented solid arguments in favor of the institutions. In the meantime, the teachings of Caso and Pedro Henríquez Ureña at the School of Higher Studies began to influence a younger generation, and these men would come to be known as part of the group of "The Seven Sages."

Justo Sierra

Victoriano Huerta became president after the deposition and assassination of Madero and began the country's process of militarization. Since the new regime had to fight revolutionary groups in the North and South, it resorted to widespread drafting.

The militarization of the National Preparatory High School took place within this context, and the Provisional Code for the Disciplinary Military Organization of the National Preparatory High School became effective on August 30th.

The director then became the colonel and commander in chief; the secretary a lieutenant and colonel, and so on, in descending order. The teachers were considered first captains and the library employees, second lieutenants.

The students would be non-commissioned officers and soldiers. At the end of that year the National Office of Dental Instruction became the National Odontology School and Ezequiel A. Chávez was appointed University president on December 1st.

During the Huerta regime, the Minister of Public Instruction, Nemesio García Naranjo, modified the study plan of the National Preparatory High School, removing all vestiges of positivism. It must be pointed out that García Naranjo had belonged to the Athenaeum of Youth.

Later, on April 15th, the presidency asked for a new law intended for the National University. Given the naval occupation of Veracruz by U.S. forces, the Ministry of Public Instruction asked the University president to provide help in the event of an invasion.

The reformed Law of the National University was published on September 30th, under the constitutionalist regime. Félix F. Palavicini, the head of Public Instruction, wrote a law initiative project in quest of the University's autonomy.

A group of professors, Ezequiel A. Chávez, Antonio Caso, Alberto Vázquez del Mercado, Genaro Fernández MacGregor, Manuel Gamio and Manuel Toussaint among them, approved the project. Engineer Valentín Gama became University president and in December, both the National Library and the National Odontology School joined the University.


The year began with the presence of the Sovereign Revolutionary Convention forces in Mexico City, with General Eulalio Gutiérrez in the presidency and José Vasconcelos in charge of the Instruction Ministry.

The great battles between Villa and Obregón took place.The constitutionalists slowly reclaimed Mexico City and daily life regained a certain normalcy, although the lack of food resulted in widespread hunger.

As far as the University is concerned, it must be pointed out that Venustiano Carranza signed the law initiative seeking the institution's autonomy. José Natividad Macías became University president.


Constitutionalism reinforced its positions, even though the Convention still showed signs of life, particularly in regards to doctrinarian issues such as the noteworthy Program of Political and Social Reforms.

Still, Carranza organized an electoral process to select the deputies who would be in charge of discussing and writing the new national constitution.The Constituent Congress began its sessions on December 1st in the city of Querétaro.

In the meantime, an official regulation decreed that the university should no longer provide its educational services at no cost. Therefore, students would have to pay five pesos, regardless of the number of classes they attended.

The National School of Chemical Industries, a dependency of the Ministry of Public Instruction, was founded on September 23rd. The Veterinary School was born out of the National School of Agriculture, which in turn was made a dependency of the Ministry of Agriculture. On September 22nd, Miguel E. Schultz became the University's acting president.


The Constitution passed on February 5th included the desires of numerous revolutionary groups and posed a new political and social order. The Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts was closed in order to create the University and Fine Arts Department, whose influence would be limited to Mexico City, nearby territories and the former ministry.

Basic education would have to be provided by the municipalities, while middle and higher education would be the responsibility of state governments. With these reforms, the National Preparatory High School became part of the Mexico City government, as was the case with the institutes and museums that had previously belonged to the University.

The president of the University would serve as the head of the University and Fine Arts Department, and answer directly to the president of the Republic. Carranza designated José Natividad Macías, who had been a constitutionalist deputy, once again as University president. The new regulations did not meet with general agreement.

The desire for an autonomous University was rekindled and there were protests regarding the University's dependency on the recently created Department. Alfonso Caso, a member of the "Seven Sages" group, began the Free High School as a protest against Carranza's anti-university policies. In Michoacán, Governor Pascual Ortiz Rubio founded the Autonomous University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo.


The European war, which had become international in scale during the previous year because of the U.S.'s entrance into the conflict, had finally ended. Mexico played a strategic role in it given the warring parties' interest in the country's oil production.

In the meantime, Carranza's government enjoyed its most stable year. A change in labor policy took place when General Plutarco Elías Calles replaced engineer Alberto J. Pani, the Mexican envoy at the Versailles Conference.

Few important things took place at the University other than the sanctioning of the Free High School, which had been set up at the School of Higher Studies and received almost 500 students. Some outstanding intellectuals like Manuel Gómez Morín and Vicente Lombardo Toledano taught at the National University.

The student body participated in the debates between Allied and German supporters that flooded the press and city life, by organizing discussion forums. Latinoamericanism, a trend whose roots went back to the ideas of Uruguayan thinker José Enrique Rodó, became popular among the students. Carranza's government was a driving force through the organization of festivities that were attended by ministers from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The President also sent a student delegation to tour several Latin American countries.



This was a year of U.S. pressures. The kidnapping of Puebla's consul, William O. Jenkins, resulted in an international crisis of which Republican senator Albert B.

Fall decided to take advantage by establishing a special committee to prosecute Mexico. In the end, the caution of President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, triumphed. This resulted in nationalist responses on the part of university students, who protested the U.S.'s meddling in internal Mexican affairs.

In national news, Emiliano Zapata died in an ambush. Francisco Villa was surrounded, so that he could no longer threaten areas outside his territorial range. Manuel Peláez remained at the fort in the Huasteca. In September, Carranza expounded on the boons of his pacification policy.

In June, General Alvaro Obregón declared himself a presidential candidate. Later on, General Pablo González did the same. The student body supported their politician of choice in several public acts.

Photographs; Inauguration Ceremony Porfirio Díaz attends the opening festivities Inauguration Festivities Mexican Revolution General Porfirio Díaz University motto, proposed by Justo Sierra Justo Sierra Militarization of the National Preparatory High School Ezequiel A. Chávez and a group of young university students; to the right, José Vasconcelos Manuscript Cabinet at the National Library Chemistry Classroom Venustiano Carranza, José Natividad Macías (President) and members of the Cabinet