Università Federico II di Napoli (UNINA)
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily and a Holy Roman emperor, established the University of Naples as the studium with an imperial charter on June 5, 1224. In recognition of its founder, the university was named Federico II in 1987.
It is one of the oldest universities to be founded by a head of State while other educational institutions by and large were a product of corporate initiatives. The king’s objective was to create an institution of higher learning that would put an end to the predominance of the universities of northern Italy, most notably those of Bologna and Padua, which were considered either too independent or under the strong influence of the Pope. The independence was granted by the charter, which then gave the emperor the highest authority. He hired professors, who would become royal employees paid through royal funds. Moreover, the emperor himself examined the candidates and granted degrees. Consistent with this rather rigid and centralized establishment, students and academic personnel were not allowed to travel and study elsewhere. Graduates took a vow to stay loyal to the king which meant that they were to lecture at the studium for a minimum of sixteen months. The foundation of the university was carried out within the framework of an administrative reform pursued by the emperor with the objective of training bureaucrats in becoming loyal to him as well as becoming capable of monitoring local nobles whom he distrusted. Thus, a strong motive was established to create a political tool for the emperor so that he could pursue his policies and counteract papal influence. However, Frederick’s love for learning was an equally strong motive. Nevertheless, during the emperor’s reign, the university closed down and had to be re-founded twice, once in 1234 and again in 1239. After Frederick’s death, the university lost most of its splendor and faced a period of severe instability being shut and re-founded by the successive rulers.
The Twentieth Century
The University of Naples survived the years of World War II. Though often bombarded, it did not undergo severe damage; however, after the armistice of September 8, 1943 and the guerilla warfare put up by the insurgent Neapolitans, retreating German troops set some university buildings on fire. Following this disastrous period, other university facilities were taken over for some time by the occupying Anglo-American forces. The fifties and sixties saw an expansion of the university and entire schools were moved into newly developing areas such as Fuorigrotta, on the north western periphery of the city. This is where a new building on Camaldoli hill was constructed for the School of Engineering and where presently a large portion of the Medical School can be found. Since the year 2000, a new, very large compound, named the Monte Sant’Angelo Complex, located in the area of Fuorigrotta, has hosted the Schools of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences, Biotechnological Sciences and Economics. Although new universities have been established in southern Italy and in the Campania region, student enrollment in Naples increased steadily in the seventies and the early eighties to over 100,000 students, making the University of Naples one of the largest in the country. Nowadays the university is made up of four schools, twenty-six departments, an academic staff of more than 3,000 individuals and an administrative staff of more than 4,500. Current student enrollment is still about 100,000 total.