Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo

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Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo

Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the oldest university in the Americas, founded by papal bull of Paul III in 1538. Originally called la Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino, the University was run by the Dominican order until 1801, when it was closed; it reopened as a lay institution in 1815 and was reorganized in 1914. Dictator Rafael Trujillo moved it to University City (the grounds of the unsuccessful World's Fair) in 1955 and later added Autónoma to its name, which was meaningless during his rule.

UASD was a very traditional university in terms of curriculum—mainly law, philosophy, and medicine for a long time—pedagogy, and organization. It was the only university until 1962, when the Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra was established in Santiago De Los Caballeros. After Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, UASD became a hotbed of opposition to Joaquín Balaguer (then president), who was an alumnus and former rector. Following President Juan Bosch's overthrow by the military in 1963 and the resultant civil war and U.S. intervention in 1965, the UASD students fought for his return and opposed the United States. During the civil war a group of conservative professors and students left UASD and formed their own university, the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña. Balaguer's election in 1966 was strongly opposed by UASD students; he retaliated against them by cutting UASD's budget.

The student enrollment was around 60,000 in the early 1990s, but began to grow rapidly in the late 1990s and the early 2000s; as of 2005 it had reached approximately 150,000. In 1966 the university established regional university centers. The first were San Pedro de Macorís and Barahona. By 2007, more than ten regional university centers were in operation.

See alsoBalaguer, Joaquín; Bosch Gaviño, Juan; Trujillo Molina, Rafael Leónidas; Universities: The Modern Era.


Emilio Rodríquez Demorizi, Cronología de la Real y Pontífica Universidad de Santo Domingo, 1538–1970 (1970).

Frank Moya Pons, El pasado dominicano (1986), chap. 8.

Additional Bibliography

García M., José C. Trujillo y la universidad. Santo Domingo: Dirección de Publicaciones, Editora Universitaria-UADS, 2002.

Mejía-Ricart G., Tirso. Historia de la universidad dominicana. 2nd ed. Santo Domingo: Editoria Universitaria, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, 1999.

                                       Larman C. Wilson

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Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo