The history of the University of Sassari

Born over 450 years ago, it was the first university in Sardinia.

Facciata storica ateneo di Sassari

In the mid-sixteenth century, the Sardinian cities of Cagliari and Sassari competed for the establishment of university seats in the Kingdom. The birth of the University of Sassari is linked to the figure of Alessio Fontana, an official of the imperial chancellery of Charles V, who in 1558 bequeathed his assets in his will to the municipality for the establishment of a college of studies. However, it was only in the seventeenth century, on February 9, 1617, that King Philip III granted the royal university status to the Jesuit college, consecrating Sassari as the first royal university.

In 1765, a regulation was promulgated to reform the small Sassari university, recognizing the four traditional faculties: Philosophy and Arts, Theology, Law, and Medicine. The decision was also made to transplant Piedmontese professors capable of renewing the scientific content of the courses and opening the university to European culture and Enlightenment ideas. One positive effect of the "restoration" by the Savoy government was to initiate research on the concrete problems of Sardinia, for the exploitation and enhancement of economic and natural resources. Throughout the eighteenth century, the two Sardinian universities promoted the circulation of ideas and created a new ruling class suited to the needs of the times.

In the twenties and thirties of the nineteenth century, the university entered a period of decline, to the extent that in 1847 the government planned its suppression (Casati Law). Thanks to the strong reaction of the local community and some parliamentarians, the temporary suspension of the measure was obtained, and in 1877, the University of Sassari was equated with secondary schools, inaugurating a new phase of development.

Between the end of the century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the university experienced a new "revival," thanks to the circulation of positivist culture in the fields of medicine, sciences, and law. Distinguished professors taught from its chairs: Pasquale Piga (clinical surgical pathology), Antonio Conti (pathological anatomy), Francesco Coletti (statistics), Claudio Fermi (hygiene), Enrico Besta (history of law), Achille Terraciano (botany), Flaminio Mancaleoni (Roman law), Giacomo Pitzorno (human anatomy).

Further development occurred during the first three decades of the twentieth century, thanks to an increasing integration within the "national university system." In this phase, professors and rectors such as Angelo Roth (medicine), Luigi Maggiore (ophthalmic clinic), Massimo Severo Giannini (administrative law), Lorenzo Mossa, and Antonio Segni (commercial law) operated. In 1934, two new faculties were established, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, followed by the Faculty of Agriculture in 1950, which played a significant role in the economic and social revival of Sardinia.

In the last three decades of the 1900s, the university continued to grow: the Faculties of Teaching (later transformed into Letters and Philosophy), Political Sciences, Languages, and Economics were established, reaching a total of 11 faculties in 2002, later transformed into the current 10 departments.