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History of the University

Universidad Pontificia Comillas

The seminary and Comillas Pontifical University

Based upon the foundational projects drawn up by their excellencies Messrs Antonio López y López and his son Mr. Claudio López Brú, first and second Marquess of Comillas, respectively, His Holiness León XIII built a seminary in the town of Comillas (Cantabria), by means of the brief "Sempiternam Dominici Gregis", of 16 December 1890, to train students from all Spanish, Hispano-American and Philippine dioceses to be priests.
The rigorous internal organisation and advanced level of its studies and the explicit consideration of the Vatican which is documented since the beginning of time began gives Comillas both the character and rank of a university.

Fourteen years after its foundation, Pope San Pio X granted the Pontificio de Comillas seminary, by means of the decree "Praeclaris honoris argumentas", from the Holy Congregation of Studies of 19 March 1994, powers to issue academic degrees in philosophy, theology and canon law to students who have studied these courses.

At the start of the 1960s, the representative of the Vatican in Spain as the superior patron of the institution on behalf of His Holy Father suggested moving the university from Comillas to Madrid and instigated this project with the intention of broadening the university's up-to-date training of candidates to be priests and offering the possibility for Christian laymen to also benefit from the study of ecclesiastical sciences and other related subjects. Authorised by the Vatican and personally approved by His Holiness Pablo VI in the letter of 24 January 1969 to the Rector and accepted by the Spanish Episcopal conference, this move was gradually carried out.

In agreement with them, the university opened its classrooms to every type of student; this fact - together with the approval of the Holy Congregation mentioned above - led to the configuration of the former Faculty of Philosophy as the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts as well as including philosophy studies, non-ecclesiastical psychology studies and education sciences.

The Spanish state by RD 719/1977 of 18 February recognised full civil effects for all studies in the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts in application of the convention subscribed with the Vatican on 5 April 1962.

So from this period on, ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical studies cohabited in the university and its original institutional aims - without losing the validity that they had achieved over the years - were broadened with new academic and training courses.

The Catholic Institute for Arts and Industries (ICAI)

The Catholic Institute of Arts and Industries (ICAI) in Madrid for its part originated from a Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering which was set up in 1908. Its aim was to offer Christian and technical training to personnel who work in factories of this specialty. Very soon, P. Agustín Pérez del Pulgar understood the need to complement this teaching on a superior engineering level by keeping the doors open to the most gifted students which constituted its initial core group with a clear aim for professional and human promotion.

This is how the Faculty of Electromechanical Engineers in ICAI came about with its specialities of Superior Assembly Engineers and subsequently the speciality of Engineers Assistant.

The achievements accomplished by the Institute and the high quality of its teaching were finally recognised by the Spanish state by the Decree of 10 August 1950 and subsequent Act of 20 July 1957 which gave civil validity to studies followed in the university.

At the same time new incorporations were being prepared for the ICAI university complex. A technical business management seminar has been carried out since 1956 under the auspices of the University Advisory Council. Limited in principle to specialised training for postgraduates to gain access to business management posts, it became part of the institute in 1960 by incorporating the new modality of the university degree in business science. Some of its specialties overlap with law (ICADE).

Incorporation of university studies from ICAI-ICADE into Comillas

The proximity of both institutions in Madrid, the fact that they are both managed by the Society of Jesus and the complementary nature of the studies gave rise to the idea of their union by means of the incorporation of university studies from ICAI-ICADE into Comillas Pontifical University. Therefore, these studies may obtain the academic legal status corresponding to their real nature and by the same token, the recognition of civil effects by the state.

However, a sufficiently rich and diversified university may be formed which is able to fulfil, better than either one of institutions on their own, the functions of a university institution. In particular, technical, economic, legal, humanistic and physiological studies could cohabit together in such a way that each one of them receives and assimilates contributions and questions that arise from the others in a markedly interdisciplinary approximation to current problems, in harmony with the search for global meaning which is so marked in man today.

Once the government bodies from both institutions and academic authorities responsible for them came to an agreement, the Holy Congregation for Catholic Education was requested to undertake the canonical building of the Superior Technical School of Industrial Engineering, the Faculty of Economic and Business Science (business section), the Faculty of Law and University Faculty of Technical Industrial Engineering from old ICAI-ICADE university centres and their incorporation into Comillas Pontifical University.

Both decrees from the Holy Congregation of 20 June 1978 carried out the canonical construction and incorporation requested and based on this, the Spanish State recognised full civil effects for studies in the aforementioned schools and faculties by RD 1610/1979 of 4 April in agreement with that established in the convention between the Vatican and the Spanish government on 5 April 1962.

The new General University statutes presented for the approval of the Holy Congregation for Catholic Education, whose application was authorised by the Rector on 16 September 1979 and definitively approved by the Vatican on 15 February 1986 aimed to make possible a gradual unitary direction for a university which is internally diverse and which favours an effective response to the demands of its new situation by means of providing a qualified, authentic university service at the service of the church and society.

In 1982 the university fully integrated the San Vicente de Paúl Faculty of Social Workers, built canonically in 1957 and officially recognised by the Decree of 20 April 1964 as belonging to its facilities. This was transformed under the auspices of legislation in force into the University Faculty of Social Work. The civil validity of its studies is recognised by the RD of 26 October 1983 (Spanish Official Journal of 2 December 1983).

By both decrees from the Holy Congregation for Catholic Education on 23 September 1988, the Faculty of Information Technology specialising in management and the "San Juan de Dios" University Faculty of Nursing were built in the university as new centres. The civil validity of these studies is recognised by both RDs of 12 April 1991 (Spanish Official Journal of 20 April).

In the last few years new centres for studies and research have been incorporated into the university due to the transformation of university study institutes (such as the University Institute for Business Administration and Management, 1981, whose fundamental mission was the study of the company and carrying out of business management and administration science by researching and disseminating knowledge by means of teaching with an integrated sense of the human, economic, legal and technical elements together with ethical and Christian orientation; the University Institute of Modern Languages, 1981), or those created to deal with academic needs as they arose (such as the University Institute for Education Science, 1982; the University Institute for Marriage and Family, 1984; the University Institute for Spirituality, 1982; the University Institute for Legal Practice, 1983), or finally for the development of research in concrete areas such as the Institute of Technological Research, 1984; the University Institute for Research on Liberalism, Krausism and Masonry, 1990; the Inter faculty Department of Sociology, 1981 and the University Institute for Studies and Migrations, 1994.

Similarly, new curriculums for graduate degrees in philosophy and pedagogy were approved by RD 1023/1993, Spanish Official Journal 16-7 and psychology, Ministerial Order of 5 March 1993, Spanish Official Journal 9-4 within the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts; Industrial Engineering approved by Ministerial Order 12-2-96, Spanish Official Journal 23-2, diplomas in social work, San Vicente de Paúl University Faculty of Social Work, San Juan de Dios University Faculty of Nursing by Ministerial Order of 5 March 1993, Spanish Official Journal 9-4, the graduate degree in law approved by Ministerial Order of 3 December 1993, Spanish Official Journal 1-94 and the new studies planned for industrial engineering by Ministerial Order of 12-02-96 and Technical Industrial Engineering specialising in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering by Ministerial Order of 12-2-96.

Civil effects are also recognised for the studies of psychopedagogy and translation and interpreting (RD 1023/1993, Spanish Official Journal 16-7) within the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts; the diploma in physiotherapy from San Juan de Dios University Faculty of Nursing, (RD 1630/1993, Spanish Official Journal 27-9 and Technical Engineering in Information Technology Management by Ministerial Order of 30 August 1993, Spanish Official Journal 18-11 from the University Faculty for Information Technology and the graduate degrees in Business Administration and Management, the graduate degree in Market Research and Techniques and Actuarial and Financial Science, RD 2161/1994 of 4 November 1994, Spanish Official Journal 21-12 as well as the degrees of Industrial Electronics and Automatic Control Engineering, Industrial Organisation Engineering and Information Technology Engineering from the Superior Technical School of Industrial Engineering (ICAI). Furthermore, Technical Industrial Engineering specialising in Industrial Electronic Engineering from the University Faculty of Technical Industrial Engineering (ICAI) approved by RD 2562/1996 13-12-96, Spanish Official Journal 17-01 and recognition of the ecclesiastical bachelors degree in theology as equivalent to a civil graduate degree in ecclesiastical studies and the civil effects of the graduate degree in theology (1995).

In 1997 the ICAI-ICADE Postgraduate and Lifelong learning Institute took up the teaching which had been imparted over the last 40 years by the previous institute in the area of business administration and management by extending this to the fields of human sciences, engineering and law.

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