Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Moscow State University

The oldest Russian University (here) was founded in 1755 by the first Russian academician, scientist and encyclopedist Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765). In 1940 the University was named after him. Pushkin expressed it well: "Combining extraordinary willpower with extraordinary intellectual power, Lomonosov embraced all areas in knowledge. His passionate thirst for knowledge was the energizing force in his life. Historian, orator, engineer, chemist, minerologist, painter and poet he experienced and perceived it all."

Lomonosov played a decisive role in the development of social and natural sciences in Russia, which was turning into a major European power during Peter the Great (1672-1725). He wrote a report to Queen Elizabeth (the daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I) (1709-1761) who signed the order for founding the University on January 25, 1755.

At that time the University had three sections: on philosophy, jurisprudence and medicine. Admission was open to all persons from all classes, except for peasants-- unheard of in those days when universities were open only to the sons of nobility. He wrote: "At the University the student is respected for his knowledge, not for his parents." In the middle of the 18th century out of 26 Russian professors, only three were from nobility. This was truly remarkable.

Beginning from 1919 the University became funded altogether by the State. Students would get stipends, housing and even food to study here. But the Stalinist period affected the intellectuals at the University, many of whom left the country, unable to put up with the suspension of intellectual freedom.

Today the Moscow State University is the first and foremost dream of most students. It has all the resources, all the opportunities and all the keys to valuable education and successful career. It was my dream too to study there when I was 6. But when my family moved to the United States after I graduated from High School, UCLA replaced Lomonosov University in my mind. Now the dream is to teach there one day...

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