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University of Catania

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University of Catania
Università degli Studi di Catania
Latin: Siciliae Studium Generale or "Siculorum Gymnasium"
Established19 October 1434; 589 years ago (1434-10-19)
RectorProf. Francesco Priolo
Administrative staff
Students66,235[citation needed]
Sports teamsCUS Catania
Detail of the University of Catania, from the faculty of humanities in the Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena

The University of Catania (Italian: Università degli Studi di Catania) is a university located in Catania, Sicily. Founded in 1434, it is the oldest university in Sicily, the 13th oldest in Italy, and the 29th oldest university in the world. With a population of over 60,000 students, it is the main university in Sicily.[citation needed]


Following the Italian higher education reform introduced by the law 240/10 and adopted by the University of Catania in its new statute, faculties have been deactivated and departments have been reorganized. The University of Catania now has 17 departments, the Faculty of Medicine, and two special didactic units established in the decentralized offices of Ragusa (Modern Languages) and Syracuse (Architecture).[1] that, additionally to the traditional assignments of scientific research, are in charge of the organization and management of educational activities. A special didactic unit is also the school of excellence "Scuola Superiore di Catania", a higher education centre of the University of Catania conceived in 1998 to select the best young minds and offer them a course of studies including analysis, research and experimentation.

Department Short name Director Field
Agriculture, Food and Environment Di3A Prof. Agatino Russo Agriculture
Economics and Business DEI Prof Roberto Cellini Economics
Law LAW Prof. Roberto Pennisi Law
Civil Engineering and Architecture DICAR Prof. Enrico Foti Engineering
Electric, Electronic and Computer Engineering DIEEI Prof. Giovanni Muscato
Mathematics and Computer Science DMI Prof. Orazio Muscato Mathematical and Computer Science
Physics and Astronomy "Ettore Majorana" DFA Prof. Maria Grazia Grimaldi Physics
Chemical Sciences DSC Prof. Antonino Licciardello Chemistry
Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences DIPBIOGEO Prof. Pietro Pavone Natural Sciences
Humanities DISUM Prof.ssa Marina Paino Foreign Languages, Letters and Philosophy
Medical, Surgical Sciences and Advanced Technologies “GF Ingrassia” DGFI Prof. Stefano Puleo School "Faculty of Medicine" - Medicine and Surgery
General Surgery and Medical-Surgical Specialties CHIRMED Prof. Ernesto Rapisarda
Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences BIOMETEC Prof. Filippo Drago
Clinical and Experimental Medicine MEDCLIN Prof. Francesco Purrello
Political and Social Sciences DSPS Prof. Giuseppe Vecchio Political Science
Drug Sciences DSF Prof. Rosario Pignatello Pharmacy
Educational Sciences DISFOR Prof.ssa Rosa Loredana Cardullo Education
Architecture SDSARCHITETTURA Prof. Bruno Salvatore Messina Special Didactic Units
Foreign Languages and Literatures SDSLINGUE Prof. Santo Burgio
Scuola Superiore di Catania SSC Prof. Daniele Malfitana
School of Italian Language and Culture ITALSTRA


The Palazzo dell'Università, seat of the University.

The university was founded by King Alfonso I of Sicily on 19 October 1434. A charter was granted after two royal councillors (Adamo Asmundo and Battista Platamone) convinced the king to accept the founding of a Studium Generale in Catania, with the papal recognition arriving ten years later from Pope Eugene IV (18 April 1444). Alfonso V with this gesture wanted to compensate the city (in which there had been recently established the royal court) for moving the Sicilian capital from Catania to Palermo. The activity of the Atheneum actually started a year later, in 1445, with six professors and ten students. The first four faculties were Medicine, Philosophy, Canon and Civil Law and Theology. Lessons were initially held in a building in Piazza del Duomo, next to the Cathedral of Sant'Agata, and eventually moved to the Palazzo dell'Università in the late 1690s. This building remains the office of the rector of the university to this day. The first degree was awarded to Antonio Mantello, from Syracuse, in 1449. During the course of the 16th century, approximately 20-25 degrees were awarded each year. The university (which from the 16th century was referred to as Siculorum Gymnasium) was named Studium Generale because it was the only entity that could release degrees equal to those released in the old Studia of Salamanca, Valladolid, Bologna and this contributed to spread envy in the other Sicilian cities that in culture and traditions didn't feel inferior to Catania. In 1934, the university celebrated its 500th anniversary with King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy, and, in 1984 the 550th one.

In the early centuries of its existence, the university was administered by the Senate of Catania,[2] overseen by the Viceroy of Sicily, with the bishop of Catania being ex officio Great Chanchellor. With a reform operated by the Viceroy in 1679 the authority of the Bishop prevailed: he had the control over the lecturers, the freshmen and students' curriculum. This led to various conflicts between the civil and religious authorities. From 1818 to the office of Great Chancellor was assigned to the president of the Great Civil Court, instead of the bishop.

List of scholars



  • Mario Pieri, mathematician, taught descriptive, projective and higher geometry from 1900 to 1908 and supervised 6 doctoral students with dissertations in algebraic geometry. See The Legacy of Mario Pieri in Geometry and Arithmetic, Birkhäuser (E.A. Marchisotto & J.T. Smith (2007).
  • Giuseppe Mercalli, inventor of the Mercalli Scale of earthquake intensity, was professor of geology in the late 1880s.
  • Annibale Ricco, named Chair of Astrophysics in 1890, was the first director of the Catania Observatory. He was also Chancellor of the university from 1898 to 1900. The crater Ricco on the Moon as well as the asteroid 18462 Ricco are named for him.
  • Guido Fubini, author of Fubini's theorem, was a professor of mathematics in the early years of the 20th century. The asteroid, 22495 Fubini, is named in his honor.
  • Remo Ruffini, former assistant professor at Princeton University (1971–74), was professor of theoretical physics from 1976 to 1978. He was named Space Scientist of the Year in 1992.
  • Paolo Maffei, director of the Catania Observatory from 1975 to 1980, was one of the pioneers of infrared astronomy. He discovered 2 galaxies, Maffei 1 and Maffei 2 in 1967. A main belt asteroid, 18426 Maffei, is also named for him.
  • Giuseppe Colombo, physicist and astronomer, NASA consultant and early proponent of tethered satellites. Asteroid 10387 Bepicolombo is named in his honor, as is the Colombo Gap, a 150 km gap in the C ring of the planet Saturn.
  • Napoleone Ferrara, molecular biologist, winner of the 2010 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, is a 1981 graduate of the Faculty of Medicine.

Points of interest

See also


  1. ^ "Scuole di specializzazione - University of Catania". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ i.e. the city council.

37°30′13″N 15°05′12″E / 37.50361°N 15.08667°E / 37.50361; 15.08667

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University of Catania
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