History of Yaroslavl Demidov State University

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School of Higher Sciences

Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov. Picture from the book: S.P.Pokrovsky. Demidovsky litsey v yego proshlom i nastoyashchem. Yaroslavl, 1914.

Yaroslavl Demidov School of Higher Sciences was founded on June 18, 1803 by Alexander I, the emperor of Russia, at the instance and on the money of a famous landlord and patron P.G. Demidov. Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov was a scientist-naturalist, a Maecenas. He received an excellent education at Gettingen, Oxford, and Uppsala universities. In 1802, when the manifesto about the establishment of ministries was issued, including the call to donate to education in Russia, P.G. Demidov was among the first people who responded to it. In the letter written on May 11, 1803 Demidov asked Alexander I “…to raise the established Yaroslavl Gymnasium to a school having the same level as a university, …” offering to finance this school. By the decree of June 18, 1803 Alexander I approved “the charitable order of the Councillor of State Demidov” and thereby established the School of Higher Sciences in Yaroslavl. Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences owes its birth and further existence to P.G. Demidov.

Discussing the possibility of opening the school, Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov carried on a correspondence with the minister of public education count Pyotr Vasiliyevich Zavadovsky via a good acquaintance of his Pyotr Mikhailovich Druzhynin. Having stated the propositions in a letter, Pavel Grigoriyevich made an oral request, “he dared not to commit to writing”, to the minister of public education via P.M. Druzhynin — to open the university in Yaroslavl. To organise the university Pavel Grogoriyevich was ready to provide additional financing. But his desire was not fulfilled at that time. The decision was taken to establish in Yaroslavl the school with the status equal to the university.

The first lecturer of the School was Karl Ivanovich Yanish — an associate professor of the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow University, an appointed professor of the School of Higher Sciences since March 1804. Before the School was opened professor Yanish delivered some public lectures. The first lecture took place on April 7, 1804, after that the lectures were delivered every week on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4 p.m. Yaroslavl governor prince M.N. Golitsin circulated posters preprinted in Moscow of the following content: “The Imperial Moscow University, having a strong wish to further the development of sciences and education, has the honour to announce by this, that it has entrusted its associate professor, Doctor of Medicine Mr. Yanish to open a public course of physics, natural history and chemistry in Yaroslavl…The university by its lectures lays the first foundation of Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences, a new temple of scholarship, the only name of which is enough for recollection of a brilliant act of patriotism distinguishing the member of Yaroslavl nobility, Councillor of State Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov”. The first lecture attracted a large audience — more than 160 people. It was devoted to “heating matter”, and was accompanied with experiments. The second lecture took place on April 11 and was “about the methods of heating matter multiplication”. On August 13, 1804, classes started at the school. The first lectures were delivered in rented rooms. On November 2, 1804 Alexander I granted Demidov School of Higher Sciences “a new bishop’s house” (on the territory of Yaroslavl Princes’ Courtyard, on the Strelka). The statute of Demidov School of Higher Sciences was approved on February 9, 1805. According to the statute, the school was called “Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences”. In all papers, advertisements, timetables it was called by the Latin name “Athenaeum litterarum Demidowianum Jaroslaviensi”. On May 11, 1805 a ceremonial opening of Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences took place. The words of welcome, at the opening ceremony, were given by the the director of Yaroslavl Primary Schools, Khomutov, the vice-rector of the School, Karl Ivanovich Yanish, professors Ivan Yevseyevich Sreznevsky, Ivan Davidovich Vilke.

By the Statute of February 9, 1805 the School had the first rank directly after two central universities (Moscow and Petersburg). The subjects taught: ancient languages and Russian oratory, philosophy, natural law, mathematics, natural history, chemistry and technology, political history, political economy and financial science. From 1819, French and German languages, drawing, fencing, music, and dancing were officially introduced.

According to the Statute the school was managed by the vice-rector and the Council, which elected the vice-rector from the school’s professors. The first elected vice-rector was professor of natural history, chemistry and technology Karl Ivanovich Yanish. The first professors were: Professor of Ancient Languages and Russian Oratory — Ivan Yevseyevich Sreznevsky, Professor of Mathematics — Vasily Osipovich Shishatsky, Professor of Natural Law — Ivan Davidovich Vilke, professor of philosophy — Fridrikh Andreyevich Shmidt. In 1807, the School had two more professors: Professor of Political Economy and Financial Science — Emmanuil Ivanovich Turneizen, Professor of Political History — Stepan Alexeyevich Vilinsky. In 1824, the position of the school’s principal was introduced. By the Senate’s decree of March 27, 1824 the Councillor of State Mikhail Alexandrovich Maikov was appointed first principal.

Originally, 20 graduates from secondary schools could be educated at the school at the expense of its founder. They had to be admitted from the nobility and other estates of the Yaroslavl Province by P.G. Demidov’s option. Furthermore, anyone who presented education certificate or passed the test (entrance examination) could be educated at his own expense. Graduates of the school were employed with the 14th grade. In the decrees of Alexander I, it was often emphasized that the certificates of the School of Higher Sciences were equal to university certificates. In 1804, the first five students were sent to Yaroslavl from Moscow University to be educated. In 1805, the boarding school was opened to pupils from other provinces, in order to prepare them for entrance exams, causing an increase in the number of students. The first graduates of the school were Vasily Sots and Fyodor Chanov. From 1805 to 1833 739 students from 26 provinces received an education at the school.

By the decree of Nicholas I of August 14, 1833 Yaroslavl Demidov School of Higher Sciences was transformed into the Demidov Lyceum on January 13, 1834.


Vasily Grigoriyevich Bashkov. View of Yaroslavl in 1856. On the left – Demidov Lyceum.

On August 14, 1833, Nicholas I by his Decree transformed Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences to the Demidov Lyceum on January 13, 1834. The transformation was done within the reform of the Russian education system at the beginning of the reign of Nicholas I. The goal of the reforms was to provide stability in the country through a political education of young people. The main directions of the reforms were: national principles of education, eradication of liberal principles, introduction of a uniform curriculum, social class education and limitation of access to universities.

The Lyceum lost its autonomous status and was taken under the authority of Moscow University. The Lyceum’s staff included 12 people: the principal, a religious teacher, eight professors and two lecturers. The principal’s position was still elective — he was elected at Moscow University, and confirmed by the Minister of Public Education. Professors were elected by Moscow University, which also appointed lecturers and a religious teacher by approbation of the warden. Professors, chaired by the principal, formed the Council, which managed the Lyceum.

According to the Statute the following subjects were taught at the Lyceum: Scripture, mathematics, physics, chemistry and technology, Russian and Latin, philosophy, natural history, Russian public, civil and criminal law, finances and political economy, general and Russian history and statistics, German and French. The Lyceum was enjoined to pay special attention to law and cameralistics, and to consider the other subjects as minor ones. A three-year education was introduced. Successful gymnasium graduates could enter the Lyceum, and those who were educated at home had to take entrance examinations in the gymnasium programme. The Lyceum could keep 40 students on the founder’s money. Students who took a complete course of the Lyceum were still employed with the 14th grade, and while enlisting in the army, they had the rights of university graduates. At the opening of the Demidov Lyceum, which took place on January 27, 1834, the Lyceum’s Principal Alexey Fomich Klimenko spoke and read a new Statute. At the time of transformation of the Lyceum, 114 students were being educated there.

The new Statute of the Demidov Lyceum was approved on December 4, 1845 and put into effect on January 13, 1847. The Lyceum’s stated main purpose was “to share fundamental information on cameral sciences in respect to Russian Law”. The Demidov Lyceum was placed under the authority of Moscow Education District Warden. The number of professors was reduced to six. New subjects were added: political arithmetic and bookkeeping, zoology, botany and mineralogy, rural economy, silviculture and agriculture, laws of state improvement. Philosophy and natural history were excluded from the curriculum. The number of students that could be kept by the Lyceum was reduced to twenty. A graduate could be employed with the 12th grade. The Lyceum was allowed to keep its own printing office.

The professors of the Demidov Lyceum were: Konstantin Dmitriyevich Ushinsky, Alexey Zinoviyevich Zinoviyev, Nikolai Alexandrovich Gladkov, Vladimir Nikolayevich Nikolsky, Lev Semyonovich Tsenkovsky. The Lyceum’s Principals were Nikolai Mikhailovich Konshin, Mikhail Vasiliyevich Liapounoff.

The Lyceum, getting further and further from the idea of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov about “the school having the same level as the university”, in the middle of the nineteenth century, was surviving rather than living a full life. Professors, having a rather scant salary, strived to leave the Lyceum, move to universities as soon as possible, having achieved a certain status. The Moscow Education District administration considered different variants of transforming the Lyceum, and probably of its closing.

The Minister of Public Education Dmitry Andreyevich Tolstoy, who visited Yaroslavl in 1866, found one professor, four acting professors, one lecturer and 39 students at the Lyceum. In the same year of 1866 the transformation project of the Lyceum with jurisprudence as its special subject was prepared on his initiative. This project was adopted and on July 15, 1868 Alexander II signed an interim Statute of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum.

Juridical Lyceum

Demidov Juridical Lyceum. Yaroslavl. Photo by S.M.Prokudin-Gorskii. 1910.

The Demidov Juridical Lyceum was established on the base of the Demidov Lyceum on July 15, 1868 when Alexander II signed an interim Statute of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum. Preparation for the opening took about two years. The Juridical Lyceum’s principal Mikhail Nikolayevich Kapustin, who took the position on June 13, 1870, bore most of the organization work. The opening of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum took place on September 11, 1870 in the presence of the Minister of Public Education Dmitry Andreyevich Tolstoy, who announced the opening.

The Lyceum increased its staff to 10 professors, 3 associate professors, a religious teacher and two lecturers. Departments were formed: the Law Encyclopaedia Department, Russian Law History Department, Departments of Roman Law, State Law, Civil Law and Civil Justice, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Police Law, Finance Law, Political Economy and Statistics Department. In 1872, the Department of Law General History was added and teaching of law philosophy history was introduced.

The Juridical Lyceum was financed by the government, which provided money for the main part of its budget. The structure and requirements to students became identical to university law students. In 1872, the Lyceum started publishing “The Demidov Juridical Lyceum’s Vremennik”. In addition to official information it contained the academic papers of the Lyceum’s lecturers. “The Vremennik” was published till 1917. Additionally, the Lyceum published several collections: in 1907–1917 — “The Law Bibliography” and in 1908–1914 — “The Law Transactions”. By the number of law periodicals, it took first place among the juridical educational institutions of Russia.

A complete course was four years. Upon graduating, a student was given a title of a Real Student and in case of a successful thesis defense — the title of a Candidate of Law Sciences. In 1870, the first year of study, 90 students entered the Lyceum, and by the time of the first exams there were already 107 people. On the initiative of M.N. Kapustin, the system of annual transfer exams was introduced into the Lyceum. The Lyceum admitted the gymnasium graduates with certificates without examining, and those who had four years of seminary had to take entrance exams. Twenty students received scholarships.

In 1880, on the initiative of M.N. Kapustin, the boarding school with a dormitory was opened at the Lyceum. His initiative was also to introduce the wardship system for needy students. The first honorary director of the Board of Trustees was Alexander Pavlovich Demidov. The first contributions were made by famous Yaroslavl merchants, brothers Ivan Alexandrovich Pastukhov and Nikolai Alexandrovich Pastukhov.

After the first students graduated, the interim Lyceum’s Statute was changed by the permanent one. Alexander II approved the new Statute on January 6, 1875.

The popularity of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum was growing rapidly and in 1876 by the number of students the Lyceum was ranked first behind the capitals’ universities. That year St. Petersburg University Law Faculty had 547 students, Moscow University Law Faculty — 296, the Demidov Juridical Lyceum — 213, Dorpat (now — Tartu, Estonia) University Law Faculty — 191, Kyiv University Law Faculty — 108. The student growth was caused to a great extent by favourable financial terms and a high level of teaching. By 1880, about half of the Lyceum’s students had been released from tuition fees. In 1883, the grants were given to 31 students. Furthermore, the Lyceum was the only higher education institution admitting seminarians, who constituted a considerable part of Yaroslavl students.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Demidov Juridical Lyceum was headed by a famous historian and specialist in law history, Sergey Mikhailovich Shpilevsky. Under his guidance, the Lyceum saw its centenary. In 1903, the Lyceum with its 497 students was inferior only to the law faculties of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kyiv universities. To teach 18 subjects at 12 departments, the Lyceum was supposed to have 12 professors (6 ordinary professors, 5 extra-ordinary professors and a theology professor) and 3 associate professors.

According to the rules of managing higher education institutions adopted on September 9, 1905 important changes were also made in the organisation structure of the Juridical Lyceum. For the first time the Lyceum’s Council elected the principal. On September 16, 1905 professor Eduard Nikolayevich Berendts became the first elected principal of the Lyceum. On September 28 professor V.G. Shcheglov was elected the deputy principal. Vladimir Georgiyevich Shcheglov was the Lyceum’s principal from 1910 to 1917. The last Lyceum’s principal was Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, who was elected to this position in 1917.

Through the years of existence famous scientists and professors worked there: Mikhail Flegontovich Vladimirsky-Budanov, Andrey Alexeyevich Isayev, Iliya Yakovlevich Gurliand, Roman Mikhailovich Orzecki, Nikolai Lvovich Duvernoy, Porfiry Leontyevich Karasevich, Ivan Ivanovich Dityatin, Mikhail Nikolayevich Kapustin, Nikolai Nikolayevich Voroshilov, Vladimir Nikolayevich Nikolsky.

The Lyceum graduates were: Nikolai Ilyich Podvoisky, Alexander Romanovich Belyayev, Maxim Adamovich Bogdanovich, Iliya Yakovlevich Gurliand, Alexey Antipovich Potekhin, Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, Vladimir Alexandrovich Gagen and many others. Yaroslavl Demidov Juridical Lyceum became a place where highly qualified lawyers were prepared in Russia.

The possibility of transforming the Demidov Juridical Lyceum into a university was discussed, starting in 1906. The initiative came from the Lyceum’s Council and was supported by the Yaroslavl community and the Ministry of Public Education. Yaroslavl also found support in neighbouring provinces who promised their material assistance. The Yaroslavl town council was ready to give 16 hectares of land and a lump-sum grant of 1 million roubles for establishing the university. After the February Revolution of 1917, the provisional government at last approved the project of transforming the Lyceum into a university, but the revolutionary events prevented implementation of these decisions.

The idea of transforming the Lyceum was restored in 1918. Establishment of the university in Yaroslavl was conditioned by the necessity to prepare highly skilled specialists for the whole Upper Volga region. In the neighbouring provinces, there were no higher education institutions before the revolution; however, Yaroslavl, owing to long and successful work of the Demidov Juridical Lyceum, had an excellent staff potential of creating a classical university. Preparatory work again started in the spring of 1918. The Lyceum’s Council suggested creating alongside the Law Department, the Management and Economics Department and the Co-operation Department, and in the future new faculties — the History and Philology Faculty and the Medicine Faculty. The Yaroslavl Revolt of 1918 affected the process of reforming the Lyceum. First of all, the entire resource base was destroyed. On the night of July 7/8, 1918 the Lyceum’s building was burnt down with all the equipment and a rich library. The Lyceum’s Council faced the necessity to create an educational institution all over again. The People’s Commissariat for Education approved the plan of establishing the university. It was planned to open the Socio–Economic Faculty with Economics, Law and Co-operation Departments and the Socio–Historic Faculty. Also, it was planned to open the Agronomy Faculty.

The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of January 21, 1919 signed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, made this transformation — the Demidov Juridical Lyceum became a University. By the Decree, the date of establishing the university should be considered to be the date of the first anniversary of the October Revolution — November 7, 1918. Thus the dream of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov came true — Yaroslavl became a university town.


Gymnasium of P. Antipova. In 1918 the university was placed here. Postcard. 1916.

Yaroslavl State University was established through the transformation of Yaroslavl Demidov Juridical Lyceum. The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of January 21, 1919 signed by V.I. Lenin stated: “In commemoration of the October Revolution of 1917, which liberated the working masses from political, economical and spiritual oppression on the part of propertied classes, and placed them on a broad path to the sources of knowledge and culture, to establish state universities in the cities of Kostroma, Smolensk, Astrakhan and Tambov, and to change into state universities the former Demidov Juridical Lyceum in Yaroslavl and the Teachers’ Training Institute in Samara. The date of establishing the universities should be considered to be the date of the first anniversary of the October Revolution — November 7, 1918”.

A new educational institution was placed in the buildings of the former St. Jonathan Seminary and the Theological Seminary. In autumn 1919, these buildings were occupied by sick quarters and the University temporarily moved to the building of the former Gymnasium of Antipova. By autumn 1920, the original buildings were given back. Studies at the University started in autumn 1918. At first, students studied only in the evening as most of them had to work in order to earn money.

Originally, the acting rector was Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, the last principal of the Juridical Lyceum. He also became the first rector of the University after the elections of February 21, 1920. Until February 21, 1921, the vice-rector was Vasily Nikanorovich Myshtsin, then — Alexander Alexandrovich Manuilov. The University was managed by the Council, consisting of all professors and lecturers (in 1918 — 13 people). As the university expanded its activities, the Council’s functions were taken over by the University Presidium, consisting of the rector, the vice-rectors, the Council’s secretary, the Deans, the faculties’ secretaries and student representatives. The Presidium covered the issues of the university’s current affairs which were then submitted to the Council.

The economic issues were under the authority of the Board consisting of the rector, the vice-rector and the departments’ Deans (on January 1, 1919 — 7 people). The academic affairs were arranged by the departments independently. Academic issues common to all the departments had to be settled by the Academic Board. The Dean of the Law Department was Nikolai Nikolayevich Polyansky, the Dean of the Economics and Co-operation Department — Nikolai Nikolayevich Golubev, the Dean of the History Department — Vladimir Georgiyevich Shcheglov. On February 20, 1920, the Dean Vladimir Georgiyevich Shcheglov was replaced with Alexander Ivanovich Anisimov. In whole, the university organisation structure was not stable. The quantity and names of the faculties and departments continuously changed.

The first university students started studying in the only faculty — the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, which contained four departments: the Economics Department, the Law Department, the History Department and the Co-operation Department. The students, who did not graduate from the Lyceum, continued studying according to the Lyceum’s training programme for the second, third and fourth years.

In spring 1919, the People’s Commissariat for Education started closing the faculties of law and philology at higher education institutions, while opening the faculties of social sciences with three departments: law and politics, economics, and history. For Yaroslavl University this transformation was quite acceptable because the Co-operation Department easily merged with the Economics Department. The Dean of the Economics Department was Boris Vasiliyevich Chredin, the Law and Politics Department — Valerian Nikolayevich Shiryayev, who was replaced with Borys Antonovich Lapicki and Alexander Alexandrovich Manuilov. In spring 1920, the History Department was transformed into the Social-Pedagogical Department, and the Law and Politics Department into the Law Department. Special rooms were opened in the Faculty of Social Sciences to organise studies. By 1920 there were 16 rooms and 29 sub-departments.

The transformation of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University started in 1922, when it was combined with N.A. Nekrasov Teachers’ Training Institute (former Institute of Public Education). As a result of this transformation the Teachers’ Training Faculty was opened. In addition, the University also included the branch of Moscow Archaeological Institute, which existed in the city from 1912. This decision was taken by the Chief Directorate of Vocational Education of the People’s Commissariat for Education in February 1922. Pavel Nikodimovich Gruzdev was elected the Dean of the new faculty. The Teachers’ Training Faculty began preparing teachers for technical and secondary schools. The first academic year was common for all students and from the second year there was specialisation offered by three departments: the Department of Philology and History with Sub-departments of Philology and History, the Department of Biology and Geography and the Department of Physics and Mathematics. In addition to academic activity the lecturers and students of the Teachers’ Training Faculty worked with school teachers to improve their skills, and developed school educational programmes.

The University Medicine Faculty started its formation in January 1919. It was temporarily placed in the building of the Museum of Natural History Society, then in the building of the Theological Seminary. Ivan Osipovich Zubov was elected the Dean, on July 18, 1920. Later he was replaced by Pyotr Petrovich Dyakonov. Studies started on November 25, 1919. Because of financial difficulties, professors I.P. Rozhdestvensky and Ye.M. Shlyakhtin who started lecturing the courses in anatomy and histology, had to transfer to Tashkent University. Therefore, the anatomy lectures were delivered by Nikolai Stepanovich Solovyov. In summer 1920, Pyotr Petrovich Dyakonov was elected the Dean of the faculty. By spring 1920, there were 400 students at the Medicine Faculty. Eight special rooms were organised.

On October 18, 1919, the Workers’ Faculty (Rabfak)[1] was opened as an independent university department. On September 25, 1919, Boris Vasiliyevich Chredin was elected the chairman of its Council. Eventually, he was replaced with Adam Oktovianovich Blazheyevich. In addition to the chairman, the Faculty’s Presidium included Vasily Nikanorovich Myshtsyn, a well-known educational specialist, Konstantin Nikolayevich Smirnov, and representatives of university students. Classes for the Workers’ Faculty students were held in the building of the Institute of Public Education. Not only the university professors lectured at the Workers’ Faculty, but also the teachers of the Institute of Public Education and the university students. The most attention was given to physics, mathematics and natural sciences. In the first year, the faculty had 68 students, only 15 of them passed to the second year. By the middle of 1921 both departments had 566 students.

In April 1920, a special Committee was set up at the university to develop the plan of creating the Agronomy Faculty. It included not only teachers, but also the representatives of other organisations interested in its opening (the Province Land Department, the Province Economics Council). The plan was developed by autumn 1920 and submitted for approval to the People’s Commissariat for Education. The Province Land Department proposed state farms “Shchedrino” and “Varino” to organise stock-farms for training. In November, the teaching staff was formed. On November 20, 1920, the University Council approved opening of the Agronomy Faculty. Alexander Alexandrovich Manuilov became the Dean. To organise practical training, four rooms and two laboratories (inorganic chemistry and soil science) were created.

In the beginning top priority for the University was forming the library stock as it was difficult to organise the teaching process without it, especially student self-study education. Books for the university were given by different organisations. A Library Committee was set up to buy profile literature. By 1920 the university library had already contained 60,000 volumes.

Only 13 lecturers came to the university from the Lyceum but as the number of courses increased in autumn 1919 already 34 teachers worked at the University. There was no competitive selection for the vacancies, teachers were invited on recommendation. They often combined work in Yaroslavl (2–3 days a week) with teaching at Moscow universities. Such a situation was caused by the lack of permanent dwelling in the city for the invited teachers. In 1920, the People’s Commissariat for Railways gave a special coach for teachers to go to Yaroslavl twice a week from Moscow. All newly employed teachers were confirmed at the University Council. By the 1920–1921 academic year, 144 teachers (43 — at the Workers’ Faculty, 43 — at the Medicine Faculty and 28 — at the Agronomy Faculty) already worked at the university, 39 of them being professors.

Unfortunately, many teachers elected to positions did not come to classes or later refused to start classes, breaking the University departments’ work. It was caused by difficulties of life in Yaroslavl after hostilities of July 1918 and rumours about an unstable position of the university itself. Though from 1918 to 1924 very prominent specialists worked at the university: lawyers Nikolai Nikolayevich Golubev, Boris Dmitriyevich Pletnev, Nikolai Nikolayevich Mikheyev, a historian and art critic Alexander Ivanovich Anisimov, historians Ivan Ivanovich Polosin, Valentin Nikolayevich Bochkaryov, Georgy Karlovich Weber, Dmitry Nikolayevich Eding, medics Ivan Porfiriyevich Rozhdestvensky, Nikolai Vasiliyevich Solovyov, a physicist Vasily Vladimirovich Shuleikin, biologists Mikhail Sergeyevich Kapterev, Mikhail Alexeyevich Yanson, Vyacheslav Averkiyevich Deinega, Boris Lvovich Bernstein.

In March 1922, the position of the Rector at the University was taken by Vasily Vasiliyevich Potyomkin, the head of the Department of Physiological Chemistry, doctor, and biochemist.

Student composition changed depending on the stages of reforming the University structure. 338 students came from the Lyceum. By the end of the first academic year there were 1,216 students at the university. According to the new entrance rules, rectors had the right to admit students throughout the year; therefore, the number of students constantly changed. Out of those who joined the university, only 201 people really attended classes. In autumn 1919, the University had 1,897 students on the list. In the 1920/1921 academic year, there were 2,316 students on the list, but 803 actually studied. 84% of students were from Yaroslavl and the Yaroslavl Province, others came from neighbouring provinces: Tver, Kostroma, Vladimir and others. Originally, student affairs were conducted by the Council of Senior Students, and later they were given to the Committee for Social Welfare. In autumn 1920, the Committee was replaced with an authorised person in charge of student welfare. Students delegated their representatives to the University governing bodies through the office of students representatives. In a short space of time, the University graduated many specialists, who represented different areas of scientific and public life. These were: a geographer Matvey Georgiyevich Kadek, a journalist Nikolai Grigoriyevich Palgunov, a medic Sergey Dmitriyevich Nosov, and a biologist Tikhon Alexandrovich Rabotnov.

Effecting the idea of curtailing the system of widespread university education and turning to preparing particular technical specialists, at the beginning of 1922, the People’s Commissariat for Education started the liquidation of universities’ law faculties. The Chief Directorate of Vocational Education of the People’s Commissariat for Education suggested closing the Faculty of Social Sciences of Yaroslavl State University “as represented by its Law Department” by the beginning of the 1922–1923 academic year. However, the Faculty of Social Sciences of Yaroslavl State University presented a petition to the Chief Directorate of Vocational Education signed by its head, B.V. Chredin to allow the students of the 5–9th semesters to get an accelerated training to graduate by July 1, 1923. At the same time, the letter of September 6, 1922 signed by the Chairman of the Yaroslavl Province Executive Committee, Shelekhes, and the secretary, Pakov, was received by the People’s Commissariat for Education. The letter contained the request not to liquidate the Law Department because it was the oldest one in the republic, was completely staffed with skilled teachers and was not a large budget item of the Faculty of Social Sciences. It was noted that the department conducted short-term courses for legal staff and the entrants (more than 100 people) already had been sent by the Soviet organisations. A similar petition was sent by the Yaroslavl Province Prosecutor and the Chairman of the Yaroslavl Province Council of People’s Judges. It stated the necessity to preserve a higher law school in Yaroslavl, in order to continue training courses at the department of legal staff. These appeals produced a certain effect and on September 15, 1922, the Board of the Chief Directorate of Vocational Education decided to allow the advanced students to finish an accelerated training by July 1, 1923. In October 1922, the Board of the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR[2] approved this decision. On March 13, 1923 after the next petitions the Presidium of the Chief Directorate of Vocational Education Board extended the liquidation date of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Yaroslavl State University till October 1923, but warned the Yaroslavl Province Executive Committee and the University Direction that it was the final date and was not to be changed (p. 3, Protocol №16, March 13, 1923). The Faculty of Social Sciences of Yaroslavl State University “as represented by its Law Department” was liquidated.

Yaroslavl University was still in the system of the People’s Commissariat for Education and was subordinate to the Republic. However, on July 17, 1923, the Council of People’s Commissars issued a directive, order №457 announced at the People’s Commissariat for Education, which stopped financing the University from the republican budget, suggesting to fund the University locally. In August 1924, the Medicine Faculty was closed and the Teachers’ Training Faculty again became the Teachers’ Training Institute by Decree №680 of the Council of People’s Commissars. But earlier the University was denied local funding. The decision about stopping the financing of Yaroslavl State University was taken at the “Maly Presidium” session of the Yaroslavl Province Executive Committee of the Council of Workers, Peasants and the Red Army’s Deputies (p.3, Protocol №26, May 3, 1924). Paragraph 3 states: “1) In view of the local budget deficit, causing the cutbacks on all the institutions of the Yaroslavl Province… to consider it impossible to fund Yaroslavl State University by the Yaroslavl Province Executive Committee and stop allocating the funds on July 15 of this year. 2) As the University is funded locally and stopping allocation of funds is subsequently equal to practically closing the University, to suggest the Province Finance Department negotiating with the University Direction the amount of the money necessary to liquidate the latter…”.

Although there were no federal documents about the closing, Yaroslavl State University had to stop its activity for lack of financing in autumn 1924.


  1. Rabfak (Russian language: Рабфак) was the Workers’ Faculty in the Soviet Union. It prepared Soviet workers to enter institutions of higher education.
  2. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) - was the largest and most populous of the fifteen Soviet republics of the Soviet Union and became the Russian Federation now.

Demidov University

Memorial plaque in honour of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov over the entrance to the main university building.

Yaroslavl State University was revived on June 13, 1969 when the Council of Ministers of the USSR enacted Decree №452, which was signed by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosygin.

The initiative to open a new university belonged to Fyodor Ivanovich Loshchenkov — the first secretary of the Yaroslavl Regional Committee of the CPSU[1], and undoubtedly, his personal energy and direct interest expedited the process of performing this difficult task. The idea of creating the university came in connection with the centenary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who signed the Decree of transforming the Demidov Juridical Lyceum into the State University. In spite of being refused by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR and the Council of Ministers of the Russian Federation, Fyodor Ivanovich Loshchenkov managed to convince the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, of reasonability of recreating the university. Later, the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR №452 for opening the University in 1971 was enacted. But the regional leaders strived to perform the task by the centenary of Lenin’s birth and made great efforts to start the university studies as early as 1970.

In December 1969, the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR appointed Lev Vladimirovich Sretensky to the position of the Rector of Yaroslavl State University. Many Yaroslavl enterprises, research institutes, Teachers’ Training and Technological Institutes were involved in creating the material and technical basis of the University. The city authorities assigned two construction organisations, the Chairman of the City Executive Committee[2], Yuri Dmitriyevich Kirillov, helped greatly in recreating the University. By the Decree of the Regional Committee of the CPSU of October 21, 1969, the future university was given two buildings for studies, while the construction of the hostel for 500 students and the 80-flat house for teachers was planned. Yaroslavl Teachers’ Training Institute gave invaluable help. Apart from the fact that a considerable part of its lecturers went to work at the new university, the Scientific Library of Yaroslavl State Teachers’ Training Institute took an immediate part in completing the original university library stock. In January 1970, the University was given the building of the former Technological Institute in the very centre of Yaroslavl, which became the main building of the university. The building of the Pirogov School №34, also placed in the centre of the city, was given for studies and the library — the former building of the Asylum in Krestyanskaya Street (now Andropov Street). Yaroslavl big enterprises helped the University actively, especially the Engine Plant. Its director, Anatoly Mikhailovich Dobrynin, gave a big sum of money for acquisition of electronics, in particular a computer “Odra” of the Soviet-Polish production. It started the creation of the University Computer Centre.

Though the University was ready to work, the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR refused to open it before the date stated in Decree №452 of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. But Fyodor Ivanovich Loshchenkov managed to convince the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosygin, of the university’s readiness to work and Aleksey Nikolayevich gave an order to open the University in Yaroslavl in 1970.

The University was staffed with the scientists from different higher education institutions: Yaroslavl Teachers’ Training Institute, universities of Voronezh, Siberia and others. The university accepted for employment professors Vasily Stepanovich Filatov, Pyotr Grigoriyevich Oshmarin, Alexandra Iosifovna Borisevich, Alexander Ivanovich Kashchenko, Boris Pavlovich Shubnyakov, Nikolai Pavlovich Erastov, Olga Vasiliyevna Titova, Viktor Tikhonovich Aniskov, associate professors Mirra Alexandrovna Dobrokhotova, Ludmila Tarasovna Zhukova, Vladimir Dmitriyevich Shadrikov, Viktor Vasiliyevich Novikov, Valentina Anatoliyevna Kuznetsova, Vladimir Stepanovich Kuznetsov, Anastasiya Nikolayevna Zubova, lecturers and assistant lecturers Genrietta Mikhailovna Kobzeva (Khamitova), Galina Nikolayevna Solomonova, Rimma Vasiliyevna Lopayeva, Tatyana Borisovna Potekhina (Shchukina), Nataliya Lvovna Mayorova and others. Professor Genrikh Yevgeniyevich Saburov was invited from Tumen Medical Institute to the position of the vice-rector for academic affairs. He was an experienced organizer, scientist, who made a great contribution into the University’s formation. Vladimir Mikhailovich Zlotnikov, Inna Mechislavovna Prokhorova, Oleg Ivanovich Stepanov came to the university from Yaroslavl Medical Institute. The University invited from Voronezh University the followers of Professor Mark Alexandrovich Krasnoselsky, young talented mathematicians — Professor Pyotr Petrovich Zabreiko, associate professors Yuri Serafimovich Kolesov, Anatoly Yuriyevich Levin, Vladimir Shepselevich Burd and others. The Department of Physics was headed by a prominent scientist, Professor Emmanuil Moiseyevich Lipmanov. The organisers of speciality “Law” were Professors Vladimir Mikhailovich Gorshenev, Yakov Ovseyevich Motovilovker, and associate professor Pyotr Fyodorovich Yeliseikin. To teach economics, the university invited associate professors Leonid Grigoriyevich Galkin, Klavdiya Stepanovna Sayenko, to teach history — Professor Vasily Sergeyevich Flyorov, Irina Leonidovna Stankevich, and a famous Yaroslavl specialist of local history, Mikhail Germanovich Meyerovich.

On September 1, 1970 in a festively decorated hall Yaroslavl University gathered its 300 first-year students, 33 teachers, the Rectorate and the heads of the departments. At the grand meeting, devoted to the beginning of the first academic year of the revived university, present were all the members of the bureau of the Yaroslavl Regional Committee of the Party headed by Fyodor Ivanovich Loshchenkov, all the members of the Yaroslavl Regional Executive Committee and its Chairman Vasily Fyodorovich Toropov, and the leaders of the City Executive Committee headed by Yury Dmitriyevich Kirillov. Two more people are worth mentioning here: Mikhail Nikolayevich Shaposhnikov, the head of the Department of Science and Higher Education of the Regional Committee of the CPSU, and Anastasiya Alexeyevna Turlayeva, the instructor of this Department. These two were not just the guests but the most active participants in the efforts of the university reconstruction. Yaroslavl again became a university city.

The university structure was determined by the order of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR №652 of December 30, 1970. The University had to contain seven faculties: Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Economics, Law, History, Psychology and the Preparatory Department with the rights of the faculty. In 1970, six specialities were opened: Physics, Mathematics, Accounting, Industry Planning, Law and Psychology.

The revived university was growing quickly: on September 1, 1970, 33 teachers worked at the University, then in spring 1971, there were already 73 specialists. At the same time the drafting and publishing group prepared to publish the first “Vestnik Yaroslavskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta”. In 1972, postgraduate courses were opened, in 1973, the Scientific and Research Department was opened. In 1974, a new building for studies, having 4.7 thousand square meters was built, a garage, a greenhouse, a canteen, and the construction of the sports and fitness camp “Uleima” started.

The number of specialities was growing, and by 1987 the faculties structure took the form determined by the order of the Minister of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR №652 of December 30, 1970. In addition new faculties appeared: the Faculty of Computer Science (1986) and the Faculty of Socio-Political Sciences (1997), which was originally called the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 1979, the councils on defending Ph.D. theses in Economics, History and allied sciences started their work.

In 1983, the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education of the RSFSR offered the position of the Rector of the University to Professor German Sevirovich Mironov, a Doctor of Chemistry. According to the current legislation of the RF and the new Statute of Yaroslavl State University of 2002, the position of the rector became elective. At the Conference, consisting of teachers, staff and students, on March 26, 2002, German Sevirovich Mironov became the first elected rector in the modern history of the University.

In the 1990s, the University continued with its development. In 1996, the University Internet Centre headed by Alexander Ilyich Rusakov was opened. It was the first Internet Centre at provincial universities of Russia. The activity of this department helped the university win the grant of the International Science Foundation and the grants of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, for creating the telecommunication backbone YARNET in the Yaroslavl Region for serving the socio-cultural area of the region: science, education, public health, culture and art. The programme of the University Internet Centre became the biggest regional integration project of 1996–1999. In 2001, the University was given several buildings, including the gym and the building where the University Library was moved. The University Library has more than 600 thousand titles. To improve serving the readers, the Library branches were opened at many faculties. Since 1999, the branch of the Human Rights Library of the Council of Europe has worked in the University Library.

The name of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov was not forgotten at the University. By the Decree of the Governor of the Yaroslavl Region, Anatoly Ivanovich Lisitsin, of February 21, 1995, Yaroslavl State University was given the name of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov. In December 1998, the International Demidov Foundation, P.G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University, Yaroslavl Architectural Historical and Art Museum Preserve held the All-Russian Conference “Demidov Readings”. During the conference in the presence of Nina Grigoriyevna Demidova, the great-niece of the founder of “Yaroslavl School of Higher Sciences”, a memorial plaque in honour of Pavel Grigoriyevich Demidov was placed over the entrance to the main University building.

In 2003, Yaroslavl Demidov State University celebrated its 200th anniversary. From 1970 to 2003, the university prepared over 20 thousand specialists. In 2005, a new rector was elected at the university — a Doctor of Chemistry, Professor Alexander Ilyich Rusakov. Today P.G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University is a leading higher education institution of the Upper-Volga region, preparing more than 7,000 students. The University has nine faculties: Law, Mathematics, Physics, Economics, History, Computer Science, Socio-Political Sciences, Psychology, Biology and Ecology. In addition to a classical five-year education some faculties give students an opportunity to participate in bachelors and masters degree programmes.


  1. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the ruling political party in the Soviet Union.
  2. This position in the USSR was equal to the City Mayor


This article with references - here. In Russian - here.

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