The Oldest University in the New World

The oldest university in the Western hemisphere is not Yale, Harvard or even Princeton. As a matter of fact, it is not even located in the Ivy League, much less the United States of America. It is located in the Dominican Republic, the first place reached by Christopher Columbus and his crew during their first voyages into new areas of the world.

Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marco (National University of San Marcos) is actually the oldest university in the Americas. It was founded in 1551 located in Lima, Peru. That is the oldest university in the Americas, but not the Western Hemisphere.

The Oldest University in the Western Hemisphere

Founded during the reign of Charles I of Spain, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo is the oldest university in the New World. It was, at first, started as a Catholic seminary ran by the Dominicans. And by the decree of a papal bull from Pope Paul III on December 28, 1538, it then became a university called Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino (University of Saint Thomas Aquinas).

The four departments which started at the institution were medicine, law, theology, and the arts. Right through time, there were other departments added such as economics, the social sciences, health sciences, agricultural sciences, engineering, and architecture. The University of Santo Domingowas supposed to be modeled after Spain’s oldest university called the University of Alcala de Henares in structure.

The Structure of the University of St Thomas Aquinas

The central body of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo starts off with the Superior Cloister also known as El Claustro Mayor. That is followed by the Minor Cloister which is also called El Claustro Mayor. The University Council is known as EL Consejo Universitario. The Assembly of Colleges (Las Asambleas de Facultades) is what follows next. The last department is known as the Technical Departmental Councils (Las Asambleas de Facultades)The rector is responsible for carrying out university body decisions when dictated by the Cloister and the Council. The Technical Councils are responsible for dictating university body decisions to the departmental deans. The Superior and Minor Cloisters have the greatest authority at the university.

Grammar School is Oldest Teaching School

The oldest university in the Western Hemisphere is eclipsed by a grammar school located in Texcoco, Mexico founded by Franciscan friar Pedro de Gante in 1523. That was followed by the Real Colegio de Santa Cruz. It was the second European school of higher learning in the Americas founded by the Franciscan.

Real Colegio de Santa Cruz was intended to teach Spanish, Latin, Greek and book binding to the finest children of the Aztec families. The school was also built on the grounds of Nahuatl Calmecac inaugurated on January 6, 1536. It was operating as a school as late as August 8, 1533 before the Franciscans and the Spanish government gave up their support for the school. By 1605, the school had become totally abandoned.

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