Republic of Poland

65th anniversary of the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences

November 14, 2016

In 1945 those who survived the German scheme to wipe out Polish intelligentsia came to Wrocław – a city destroyed by the war. The professors coming mainly from Lviv brought with them their academic record, the power of tradition and hope that a new life can be built upon the ruins.

In the autumn of 1945 two first lectures inaugurating the first post-war academic year took place. Faculties of Agriculture and Medical Veterinary began functioning within the University and the University of Technology which were, at that time, a single institution.

In 1951 Polish government decided to set up the College of Agriculture with professor Stanisław Tołpa – a distinguished botanist – appointed as its first rector. Professor Tadeusz Konopiński became the dean of the Animal Husbandry Faculty. Konopiński came from Poznań and had become famous before the war as one of the organizers of Polish General Exhibition.

It was at that time that the today’s reputation of WUELS began to be created as the College of Agriculture soon became an Academy and, in the end, a University continuing the legacy of two famous Polish colleges – agricultural in Dublany and veterinary in Lviv.

„Dublany, Dublany, sławna dziura w kraju, kto tu rok przemieszkał, pójdzie wprost do raju” (Dublany – a famous place in the country, those who have lived here for a year will go straight to heaven) – sang the students of the University which was set up thanks to the Galician Agricultural Society. It was a society which, on November 1st 1853 purchased Dublany grange of 707 morga, that is 407 hectares, which was located just 8 kilometres from Lviv borders. Three years later on 9th January a private School of Life Sciences was established and in 1858 – the Agricultural College in Dublany. Its main founder was the president of the society, prince Leon Sapieha. In 1901 the College obtained academic rights and was named Agricultural Academy in Dublany.

When Prince Sapieha was setting up the source of Polish agricultural elite, veterinary teachers at the University of Lviv began efforts to set up an independent veterinary school. The Galician parliament made the decision only in 1871 although almost immediately an 18-morga estate with buildings on 67 Kochanowskiego St. was purchased for its headquarters. However, the institution had not been set up until 10 years later – such was the time that the Galician authorities needed to gain support of the Austrian government. An Imperial decision of 27th December 1880 made October 1st 1880 an opening date for the College of Veterinary Science and College of Horse Shoeing in connection with Animal Treatment Centre.

Kazimierz Nahlik, who was a graduate of the Dublany Academy which in 1919 became a part of Lviv University of Technology as its Agricultural Faculty, pointed out that size of the buildings was not a key factor for the school’s prestige but it was rather the educational standards and atmosphere created by professors and students. “A one-storey building, solemnly called the main edifice erected in 1888 and containing several not very big lecture halls, professor’s rooms, a few classrooms and an administrative office as well as another building finished in 1900 which included farming chemistry labs, soil science labs, farming technology workshops and a farming research lab” – this is how Nahlik described the estate of the Dublany Academy in his memories for the Association of Friends of Lviv and South-Eastern Borderlands. He also remembered those who were the driving force behind the Dublany College as well as other institutions, including Józef Ciemnodoński, who, apart from being the organizer and first rector of the Lviv Chamber of Agriculture, was also a pioneer of Polish bacon industry, or Włodzimierz Puchalski – a renowned natural scientist and photographer.

The Veterinary School was also a credit to the Polish science and academic life. From the very beginning its language of instruction was Polish and its lecturers were the best graduates from Cracow and Vienna teaching not only Polish students but also Czechs, Moravians, Slovaks, Ukrainians and even Bulgarians and Croatians, which proved that internationalization of universities is not necessarily a recent issue. It was under the auspices of the Lviv college that the first professional association of veterinary doctors came into being in Poland (though still under foreign occupation) – Galician Veterinary Association. There was also the first periodical “Przegląd Weterynarski” whose first issue appeared on January 1st 1885.

Luckily a considerable number of the Veterinary School teachers survived World War I. In the reborn Polish state they were able to start working at a new college (until 1927 the only one in the country) educating veterinary doctors. It was the Lviv Academy of Veterinary Medicine which officially began functioning on December 12th 1922. Kazimierz Szczudłowski, Antoni Bant, Andrzej Klisiecki, Tadeusz Konopiński – those were just a few outstanding Polish scientists who later settled in Wrocław.

65 years on the academic map of Poland is not only a matter of roots or traditions. It is also a legacy of generations which, from the beginning of the College, later the Academy and finally the University of Environmental and Life Sciences, graduated and went on to transfer the values and knowledge they acquired from their Masters. Their overall number is now close to 75 thousand – the size of a small city.