Complutense University of Madrid

Complutense University of Madrid
Complutense University of Madrid
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Latin: Universitas Complutensis Matritensis
Motto Latin: Libertas Perfundet Omnia Luce ("Freedom pours light around")
Established 20 May 1293 as Estudio de Escuelas Generales de Alcalá; becomes Universitas Complutensis in 1499 by Papal Bull
Type Public University
Budget 607.559.030 €
Rector José Carrillo
Admin. staff 11,162
Undergraduates 74,771
Postgraduates 11,388
Location Madrid, Spain
Campus Urban, Ciudad Universitaria district and Somosaguas district
Student Associations 107 Groups:
Asociación Internacional de Sociología (AIS),[1]
Asociación para la Defensa e Integración Universitaria (ADIU)
Estudiantes de Izquierdas,[2]
Rosa que te quiero Rosa (RQTR),[3] Tuna[4]
Nickname La Complu

The Complutense University of Madrid (Spanish: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM, Latin: Universitas Complutensis) is a university in Madrid, and one of the oldest universities in the world. It is located on a sprawling campus that occupies the entirety of the Ciudad Universitaria district of Madrid, with annexes in the district of Somosaguas in the neighboring city of Pozuelo de Alarcón.

According to the annual university rankings conducted by El Mundo, the Complutense University ranks as the top public university in Spain,[5] with its Schools of Philosophy, Spanish Literature, History, Pharmacy, Optometry, Journalism, Psychology, and Sociology holding the top national rankings.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] The University is also an affiliate of the Spanish Royal Societies of Physics and Mathematics.


Early history

Cardinal Cisneros expanded the existing Studium Generale into a large five-college University

The Complutense University's origins lie in the Middle Ages, when King Sancho IV of Castile created the Studium Generale on 20 May 1293. In 1499, Pope Alexander VI granted the request of one of its former pupils, Cardinal Cisneros, to convert it into a full university; the Papal Bull renamed the institution Universitas Complutensis, after Complutum, which was the Latin name of Alcalá de Henares, where the University was originally located.

In the 1509–1510 school year, the Complutense University operated with five schools: Arts and Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, Philology and Medicine. The University flourished in the 16th century, especially under the early benefaction of Cisneros who, as Archbishop of Toledo, was able to endow it richly. Cisneros attracted many of the world's foremost linguists and biblical scholars to Alcalá to produce the magnum opus of the University, the Biblia Políglota Complutense or Complutensian Polyglot Bible, printed in five massive volumes (including a popular glossary volume) complete in 1517, but delayed publication by Papal order until 1520 (distribution probably later in 1522).[14][15] The edition was one of the great works of philology of the Renaissance, comprising critical editions of all of the books of the Bible in their original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, as well as the authorized Latin Vulgate text. Cisneros borrowed or acquired most of the known Biblical manuscripts of his day for the project. The complexity of the typography alone ranks it among the greatest achievements of Spanish scholarship. Owing to unfortunate mishaps, most copies of the edition have not survived, but this singular achievement launched the Complutense into the company of the greatest universities of the world.

The Central University of Madrid

Albert Einstein receiving his Doctor of Science degree Honoris Causa from Complutense University.

By a royal order of 29 October 1836, Queen Regent Maria Christina suppressed the university in Alcalá and ordered its move to Madrid, where it took the name of Literary University and, in 1851, of Central University of Madrid. The University would be known under this name until its original name of "Complutense" was restored in the 1970s.

Seat of the former Central University of Madrid.

As a product of the mid-19th century mindset of "renewal" (after the dark absolutist years that characterized the reign of Ferdinand VII), the Central University of Madrid had a fundamental objective of ending the system of traditional education typical of the Ancien Régime and replacing it with a new, liberal mindset. The University initially occupied the edifice of the Seminary for Nobles (originally built to serve as a school, later placed into service as army barracks during the Spanish War of Independence, and finally serving as military hospital prior to its occupation by the Central University), later relocating to the Salesian Convent on San Bernardo Street. In 1842, the institution moved to the former Jesuit Novitiary, which would serve henceforth as the seat of the Central University; today this building houses the Instituto de España ("Institute of Spain"), a state agency under which the eight Royal Spanish Academies exist. The modern Paraninfo on San Bernardo was built in 1852 using the walls of the former Jesuit church.

The Moyano Law of 1857 established the Central University as the sole university in Spain authorized to confer the title of Doctor on any scholar. This law remained in effect until 1954, when the authorization was extended to the University of Salamanca in commemoration of its septecentenary. In later years, the right was extended to all Spanish universities, ending the monopoly of the Central University over this distinction.

Complutense University awarded Albert Einstein a Doctor of Science degree Honoris Causa on 28 February 1923. In his speech of acceptance, he declared:[16]

So many are the honors and testimonies of warm sympathy that I have received during my visit to Madrid, that I can hardly find the words to express my gratitude. Because of this appointment as Doctor “Honoris Causa”, I feel as intimately related to your University, as those who in it began their studies of Science. You have dearly and profoundly penetrated in my work, with such success, that I need not adding anything on that regard. [...] I’m confident that your University will educate researchers active in both categories [theoretical and empirical Science], who will augment and deepen the extent of human knowledge.

This was the first Doctor of Science degree Honoris Causa that Albert Einstein accepted from a European University. In April 1933 the Minister for Education and the Arts, Fernando de los Ríos, announced that Einstein had agreed to take charge of an extraordinary professorship in a research institute, which would bear the name Instituto Albert Einstein, under the University's School of Science.[17] However, as the political situation began to deteriorate throughout Europe, Prof. Einstein ended up accepting a similar position at Princeton University.

The University at Ciudad Universitaria

Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, with Faculty members of the University: Albert Einstein, José Rodríguez Carracido, Blas Cabrera y Felipe, among others, on 11 March 1923.

The University greatly expanded during the 19th century, and its accommodations in central Madrid proved to be increasingly inadequate. Besides the greater number of students, after its move from Alcalá the University had been based in a number of preexisting, government-acquired properties – mainly aristocratic mansions and royal châteaux from centuries past, abandoned by their owners for more contemporary lodgings. Though they were not without their charm, the ancient buildings were not precisely ideal as educational settings, and the early 20th century witnessed the students of the Central University attending philosophy lectures and anatomy lessons in elaborate spaces that had served as ballrooms and salons only a few decades prior. Moreover, the haphazard collection of buildings was hardly conducive to the bureaucratic functions of the University as a whole, given that very few of them were actually grouped near each other on the Calle San Bernardo, and, as such, a significant amount of time was lost just in undertaking the distance between the University properties strewn about the center of Madrid in the attendance of routine bureaucratic tasks. This is not to mention the significant inconvenience to students enrolled in faculties too large to fit in a single building, or those who decided to take on multiple studies (implying multiple travels, from one building to another, across the center of Madrid, potentially several times a day).

This curious situation changed by the grace of His Majesty King Alfonso XIII. It was tradition in Spanish Kingdom that, upon the assumption of an important regal anniversary, the individual provinces and territories would make great shows of loyalty and affection towards the benign rulers by way of lavish and elaborate presents as a gesture of allegiance and affection towards the crown (donations of lands, construction of great monuments, and the gifting of enormous amounts of regional wares to the rulers).

To the surprise of many, however, Alfonso XIII declined the anticipated gifts commemorating the Silver Jubilee of his rule (having reached his majority in 1902), instead declaring that it was his dream that a new university should be built in Madrid, replacing the current, scattered, shabby institution with a fine center of learning, "a new Athens", whereby the perfection of the educational process would be achieved and the lives of students improved, with complete intellectual, moral and physical formation. What's more, he went on to declare that this should be the magnum opus of his reign, and that he would spend more upon this effort than he had previously ever invested on matters such as the battleships that had so recently played a part in the Moroccan Wars; this would be called, henceforth, la Ciudad Universitaria, or University City.

It was such that on 7 May 1927, a royal decree called into existence the Junta Constructora de la Ciudad Universitaria, and Alfonso XIII officially ceded the royal lands in the proximity of the Palace of La Moncloa, which at the time constituted all of the land between the Royal Palace and the Palace of El Pardo, today comprising a vast swath of western Madrid and stretching well outside the city limits.

The Junta was composed of a number of academics, architects, juridical and financial consultants, and presided directly by the King, although it should be made clear that while this was a government-funded project, it was in no way controlled by the government, the academics firmly holding the reins and the official organisms of the state represented on the board only by the Minister of Education and the Mayor of Madrid; it was the King's will that the University should be a project for the nation, but directed by the intellectual elite rather than it be compromised by the underhanded ways of politicians. It was for this reason that it was decided that the project should not be funded mainly by way of government funds, but rather via a special lottery, for which an enthusiastic and remarkably effective publicity campaign was organized; the lottery was so successful, in fact, that, combined with the generous donations of the ruling classes and numerous industries, the funds required for construction of the campus buildings were acquired by 1930. Meanwhile, the Weimar Republic and a number of South American nations graciously opted to donate the funds necessary to build the student residences for the University in a show of international intellectual solidarity.

The Carriers of the Torch. Monument by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Plaza Ramón y Cajal. Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)

Meanwhile, the Junta had decided that the new University of Madrid would require the innovative architecture befitting the "new Athens"; as such, a team of academics was sent out on an international expedition to visit the finest universities in Europe and North America, to combine the best of both continents and design the utopian academic setting. Mssr.'s López Otero, Cásares Gil, Dr. Simonena, Del Amo, and Julio Palácios, amongst others, set about a whirlwind tour which took them to 19 universities in the American northeast, as well as to Paris, Lyon, Oxford, Berlin, Hamburg, and numerous other European cities, all in an effort to discern the best possible building structure. The architectural tendencies of the era, however, ended up having a greater influence than the academics' visits to Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, La Sorbonne or the University of Berlin; while the final plans from this period are hardly recognizable to anyone familiar with the contemporary campus, the buildings from the era that managed to survive the design revisions, the Civil War and the Franco regime, betray the period's fondness for the German Bauhaus movement. Indeed, the original buildings, exemplary amongst them the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology, are a paean to structural functionalism and the graceful utilitarianism of the 1920s.

It is of some irony that Alfonso XIII, who wished the new University to be the defining triumph of his reign, never got to see any of the buildings through to completion, much less inaugurate any of the classes. Deposed in 1931, he found himself exiled in Rome when, on 15 January 1933, Manuel Azaña, President of the Second Spanish Republic (and former professor, as well as graduate, of said University), officially inaugurated the first classes in the new University of Madrid campus in the mostly finished School of Philosophy. During the Second Spanish Republic the Schools of Philosophy, Pharmacy, Medicine, Odontology, Architecture, Agronomy, Chemistry and Physics Sciences would be completed, as well as the Clinical Hospital, the Del Amo Foundation, and the Velazquez House, which housed the School of Diplomacy.

Second Spanish Republic and Civil War

The art deco, Second Spanish Republic-era School of Philosophy building is located in the Moncloa Campus, and also houses the School of Philology and Linguistics.

The first graduating class in the new campus was over 40% female students (a dramatic change from the traditional, male-dominated educational system which had until then been the norm in Spain). The last years of the Alfonsine monarchy and the early part of the Second Spanish Republic marked the "silver Age" of Spanish intellectualism, exemplified by the "Generation of '27", a diverse group of intellectuals which included the poet Federico García Lorca, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, philologist Dámaso Alonso and philosopher Julián Marías, amongst others, many of whom were students of the University of Madrid. A "silver Age" of Spain, it was, indeed, the Golden Age of the Complutense, which at the time counted with one of the most distinguished staffs of its 800-year history, its professorship including luminaries such as José Ortega y Gasset, Julian Besteiro, and Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Its administration at the time also reads like a list of the who's who of government, the administration being headed by alternating former and future presidents of the Spanish state. At the time, the University of Madrid's School of Philosophy was widely considered to rival the University of Berlin for the position of being the best in Europe, if not the world.

It was also during this time that the University enjoyed its greatest period in terms of visiting professors, serving as a safe haven to the Jewish intelligentsia of northern Europe fleeing the growing influence of anti-Semitic fascism.[citation needed] Unfortunately, those visitors, as well as many of the native professors, were forced to flee once again after the attempted coup led by Francisco Franco on 17 July 1936, which began the Spanish Civil War.

Ciudad Universitaria, que el buen pueblo levantó para mostrar a sus hijos fuentes de estudio y amor, ¿cómo les dirás mañana lo que en tus aulas pasó? Antonio Argaz, Muerte de Durruti (1936)

The campus served as one of the primary fronts during the Siege of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War;[18] the International Brigades has its headquarters in the School of Philosophy, and its soldiers occupied all of the campus buildings,[19] which were connected by a series of elaborate trenches. Ciudad Universitaria was literally the final bastion between Republican Madrid and Franco's troops; a small stream used to cross the area now occupied by the School of Communications, and a small wall which preceded it marked the border between nacionales and republicanos.

Throughout the course of the war the University campus witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict; the area was exposed to heavy artillery fire and bombardments, and even as the Nationalist troops began to make headway, the International Brigade forces held strong and literally fought from building to building, at times even from floor to floor of the campus, managing to hold out until the very last moments of the war. It was in the School of Pharmacy that one of the icons of the Civil War, the Catalan anarchist Buenaventura Durruti, would be killed (although controversy surrounds his death, with some claiming he was assassinated by the Communists, others noting he died at the hands of a companion whose machine gun went off by mistake – his death was publicly attributed to a sniper's bullet "for reasons of morale and propaganda"). Large part of the original of the University's rich intellectual patrimony was lost forever; although most of the 500-year-old library of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, founder of the University, was able to be evacuated. Renaissance manuscripts, amongst many other priceless documents stored in the University archives and libraries, were used by troops loyal to the Second Spanish Republic to fortify on-campus bunkers against the persistent enemy gunfire[20] and to keep fires burning for warmth. Some of the survivors of the war would later recall, with some amusement, how many times their lives had been saved by the greats of Spanish literature, the verbal ingenuity of Cervantes quite literally saving their lives by stopping bullets halfway through the sizeable girth of his Don Quixote, and stacks of the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española providing cover from deadly shrapnel. One English volunteer, fighting in the French Commune de Paris Battalion, wrote:

When we next came back to University City we were put into the Philosophy Building. We built barricades with volumes of Indian metaphysics and early nineteenth-century German philosophy; they were quite bullet-proof. (...) Life here was quiet, orderly. On clear mornings, about eleven o'clock, we were bombed. A few shells came over late in the afternoons; the rest of the time we sniped, read, talked, studied Spanish, or dug trenches. (...) We explored the library; in the great reading-room anti-tank guns stood on the tables; the valuable books and manuscripts had been taken away, but there was plenty to interest us. (...) On a cold morning I found De Quincey's Lake Poets and rolled myself up in a carpet and read voraciously; the day passed in a stupor, I was with Wordsworth and Coleridge, in another place, another time... John Sommerfield, Volunteer in Spain (1937)

Forty Years of Political Opposition

The Rectorate.

At war's end in 1939, over 40% of the original campus was completely levelled, and all of the buildings showed significant damage. For a time the Francoist victors of the war considered leaving the area as it was, a virtual moonscape. It was eventually decided, however, that the area should be restored and rehabilitated as a symbol of the new regime, albeit with some alterations – chief amongst them the new plans for a monumental main building with a Sistine Chapel-type interior, and a large church. While those two particular plans never came to fruition, the direct involvement of Franco in the rebuilding of the University meant that, though the original plans were largely followed, chapels were now incorporated into each of the buildings. Today, this creates a curiously contradictory situation, whereby one has certain buildings, such as the School of Philosophy, with streamlined architecture that epitomizes the liberal spirit of the 1920s and borrows heavily from Weimar Germany, and yet features a first-floor chapel which, fitted into a highly art-deco setting, seems implausible as a place of serious spiritual reflection.

Franco's influence on-campus was not limited to the imposition of his Catholic ideals. As a result of the war, as could be expected, the staff was purged of all liberals and Republican sympathizers, and replaced with members of the Falangist movement. What's more, the University charters were altered to compel all students to reside either in government-sanctioned dormitories or personal family homes. The dormitories staffed with members of the falangist movement, the regime aspired to be able to oversee all aspects of the student's lives, hoping to mold them into devotees of the "nationalist movement". Moreover, there was an active attempt by the government to dominate the University from the very beginning. The original buildings, restored or rebuilt from 1940 until 1945, were all personally reinaugurated, with solemn mass and elaborate ritual, by "El Caudillo" himself; enormous plaques of marble (still visible today) were placed at the entrance of each of these buildings declaring that the institution had been rebuilt under Minister X under the generous and courageous leadership of Generalísimo Francisco Franco on such and such date of such and such year.

Although these buildings were rebuilt in their original, architecturally innovative style, Franco broke completely with the campus plans with the new buildings, and imposed his vision of an "Imperial" Madrid harkening back to the traditionally Catholic age of Philip II and the styles exemplified by the palatial monastery of El Escorial. Although a lack of funds fortunately prevented the entire campus from taking on the turreted look imposed by his regime upon other parts of Madrid (a clear example being the castle-like Ejército del Aire building), this particular architectural style defined a few of the new buildings, including the José Antonio Dormitory, named after the founder of the fascist Falangist movement, José Antonio Primo de Rivera (since converted into one of the University's secretarial buildings and subsequently renamed). The campus also took on a more somber look immediately after the war, on account of Franco ordering that all the trees replanted on the campus of the cypress genus, trees traditionally planted in cemeteries in Spain, as a symbol of the "fallen martyrs of the national movement" (this situation was changed later during Franco's regime, and continued over the last half-century, and the campus now actually features some of the most diverse flora of Madrid.

Despite their dedicated efforts, however, period events indicate that Franco was not successful in his attempts to totally control the minds and hearts of the University's students; despite the political oppression of the era, it is evident that even in those early years of the dictatorship and after a brutal Civil War, some of the political students of the University of Madrid were already actively revolting against the government. Its buildings destroyed during the war, the University had been compelled to move back into the pre-Ciudad Universitaria mansions and châteaux; the students took advantage of their lodgings in the city center, and some took the opportunity to hold lightning protests and rallies on the Gran Via and other main thoroughfares whenever possible. Seeking to avoid any potentially embarrassing or undermining displays of civil disobedience and revolt in the face of his newly minted regime, Franco ordered that all efforts be devoted to finishing the University buildings with all due haste, in order to get the students back out into the then-distant Moncloa area and away from the city center as soon as possible. Even though the press of the era was too heavily censored to report on the matter, students from that time recall, with some glee, that the landmark accomplishment of Franco's University rebuilding efforts, the construction of the School of Law and the School of Philosophy in a mere 5 months, due not to the zeal on the part of the builders, but rather to the concern of the unshakeable dictatorship.

Paraninfo of Complutense University, during the solemn opening of the Academic year

During the Franco Regime, the Complutense University was at the forefront of the clandestine opposition movements; the politically active university students came to be ranked, along with the labour and nationalist movements, as one of the chief threats to the stability of the dictatorship. Consequently, members of the Secret Police were infiltrated into the classes in order to monitor the students, and the Falange Party was given the task of patrolling the grounds. The 1960s, in particular, saw some of the most polemic moments in the University's history. From 1963 until the late 1970s, members of both the local and government police were kept perpetually stationed on campus; police officers on horseback were frequently ordered to charge the spontaneous anti-Franco protests that would form along the main university thoroughfares, and several times entire departments were shut down in response to confrontations between the authorities and the student body.[21] In October 1971, the School of Medicine[22] was shut down entirely throughout an entire year due to conflicts with the police, and on numerous occasions the police was actually reported to have staged charges within the actual buildings, although there was an unspoken rule of sanctuary, generally respected, by which the police refrained from actually entering classrooms to arrest suspected protesters.[23]

During the later years of the Francoist regime, the new Somosaguas campus was specifically planned to accommodate the Schools of History and Political Science, respectively, in order to move the most politicized sectors of the University to the relatively isolated town in the outskirts of Madrid. To this day the Somosaguas Campus lies almost completely disconnected from the rest of the University, as well as the Metro lines – in terms of public transportation, it is accessible only by way of a twenty minute bus ride (and by the new light metro line, only since June 2007).

On campus, one of the lasting symbols of this era is graffiti from the early 1950s that still dominates a portion of the School of Philosophy's rotunda:[24] painted in chemicals used for photo developments (which also happen to be permanent and shine when exposed to sunlight), the message calls for freedom of expression in the University and freedom from the Falange Party, which at the time exercised its jurisdiction over the campus. Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz & Manuel Lamana, the students who painted the message, would later be caught and sentenced to twenty years hard labour building the Valle de los Caídos, from which they would later stage a spectacular escape, as fictionalized in the 1998 film Los años bárbaros.

The Complutense University would also be the site of intense, and often bloody, marches and protests during the politically charged years of the post-Franco Transition period.

In 1970 the University returned to its original name. When, later, the people of Alcalá de Henares decided to open a university within the old campus buildings in that city, they were obliged to name it Universidad de Alcalá de Henares to clearly separate it from the Complutense University.

The Complutense University today

The first page of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible

The Complutense University has played a major role in the political development of Spain since its founding. Its graduates have been members, at either Congressional or Ministerial level, in all of the governments of Spain since the Enlightenment, and their positions in the Second Spanish Republic and the post-Franco transition to democracy were particularly notable. The current first Deputy Prime Minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, and the former President, José María Aznar, are both graduates of the university. The Complutense University has also played host to some of the most significant figures of the intellectual world, with a long tradition of visiting professors amongst which feature some of the greats of world academia (most notably, Albert Einstein). A significant part of the European intelligentsia flocked to its halls during the 1930s, when democratic Spain provided a refuge from the rising terrors of fascism; while the tradition of distinguished visiting professors somewhat diminished during the Franco years, the University has recovered its former splendour in the decades since, although it continues to employ very few non-Spanish academics. This last fact may explain its poor international profile. The contemporary Complutense University has nevertheless counted numerous Nobel Laureates not only amongst its graduates, but also amongst its faculty members over the years.

Currently, the Complutense University is the largest university in Spain. During the 2004–2005 academic year the University recorded an enrollment of 91,598 students and employed a staff of 9,500, of which over 6000 are directly involved in teaching duties; the University operates on government subsidies, grants and enrollment funds, with a current annual budget of over 500,000,000 euros. The University currently offers nearly 80 possible majors, 230 individual degrees, and 221 doctorate programs. The University has over 30 libraries, with over 2 million works in print, a particularly rich archive of over 90,000 historical documents, and one of the most extensive film collections in Europe.

The Complutense University of Madrid is a member of the Europaeum.

The ancient ceremony of bestowing Complutense's Doctoral biretta

Due to its long history in the capital, the Complutense University enjoys great support from Madrid-based institutions, at a local, national and international level. The School of Medicine operates the Hospital Clínico Universitario de San Carlos, as well as a number of other specialized clinics located on-campus, some of which are operated jointly with the Ministry of Health or perform specific research for the Ministry. The School of Medicine is not the only one with government involvement; indeed, despite past conflicts, the Complutense University shares a close bond with the Spanish government, as made evident by the fact that the presidential residence of La Moncloa and the Spanish Constitutional Court are both located directly on-campus (with the political center of the city at walking distance).

The School of Communications, meanwhile, enjoys equally good relations with the press (large part of its professors being former reporters, editors, or directors of major Spanish and international newspapers). Moreover, the School is known particularly for its role as one of the main pre-screening locales for the nation; indeed, all major Spanish film productions are screened first before an audience of Complutense students, with the main actors or production figures of the films attending a post-screening press conference. Most recently, Blanca Portillo, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas and Yohana Cobo pre-screened Pedro Almodóvar's Volver; past pre-screening visitors have included director Santiago Segura, actor Alejo Sauras, and writer E. Annie Proulx. Each year, the Madrid Círculo de Bellas Artes extends special invitations to the Complutense students during its series of annual conferences featuring prominent philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists. Likewise, all of the faculties have been able to benefit greatly by lectures given by some of the most illustrious figures in recent history, of all fields, from singer-songwriter / Catalan activist Joan Manuel Serrat to historian Ernst Gombrich, from writer Umberto Eco to communist politician Santiago Carrillo. Alejandro Amenábar wrote his first film, Tesis, while still attending the Complutense University. All the on-campus scenes in the film were shot in the School of Communications, which Amenábar himself had attended, and the building itself serves as major device in the plot. Amenábar dropped out of the Complutense in part due to his antagonistic relationship with one of his professors, who kept failing him; as revenge, Amenábar named one of the main villains in Tesis, Professor Castro, after his teacher. Castro still teaches at the University.

Student Life and Extracurriculars

τά πάντα, the Philosophy Club (also responsible for the School of Philosophy's sport teams), advertises a series of group reading sessions of Marx's Das Kapital.
Pro-Republic graffiti outside the School of Law.

The Complutense University publishes a bi-monthly newspaper, the Gaceta Complutense,[25] and also features a fully operational radio station, Radio Complutense (107.5 FM),[26][27] which broadcasts for 12 hours daily; both are run from the School of Communications.[28]

While the University has a select number of registered dormitories, these are located on the fringes of the campus, within border neighbourhoods, and therefore no students truly live on campus proper. Due to the costs, and the fact that university-affiliated lodging is not required, the majority of the Complutense's student live independently, either in non-affiliated dormitories or in actual apartments.

In modern times, the Complutense University's student body continues to be highly politicized, with an active student government which most recently called for a student strike to protest the Bologna process. All political parties have the right to on-campus representation, though there is a decided tilt towards leftist politics amongst the student body. Upon petition, student political groups can be granted actual offices within the University, some examples being En Construcción, the radical-leftist student organization with offices in the School of Communications, or Erre Que Te Erre (rqtr),[3] the gay liberation front with offices in the School of Political Sciences on the Somosaguas Campus, notable for having been the first gay-rights group established in a Spanish university. In May 2006 the University hosted a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and advocating the abolition of the monarchy and declaration of the Third Spanish Republic.[29]

Separately from the political groups, the Complutense features a number of social and sports-related groups. The University counts on a strong Erasmus-support group and every school features a Tuna (traditional Spanish band), which compete in the nation-wide competitions. In terms of sports, aerobics, gym, yoga, swimming, tennis, diving, tai-chi, and numerous other courses are offered. In terms of team sports, the Complutense features male and female basketball, soccer, and volleyball divisions, as well as rugby. Chess, badminton, golf, judo, karate, squash, table-tennis, and archery teams also exist. Internal university games are held several times a year, with all of the different schools competing; the Complutense also participates in the regional university games, held each March at the Puerta del Hierro Stadium in Madrid, and the selected national competitions. All students, professors, staff-members, and family of staff-members have the right to be evaluated and attended to at the Complutense University Center for Sport and Fitness Medicine.

The Complutense Abroad

Besides an extensive series of accords permitting student/professor exchanges and study abroad opportunity with prestigious universities throughout the world, the Complutense University of Madrid currently operates four full-time institutions outside of Spain.[30][31]

Coat of Arms of the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University
  • The Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts):[32] The RCC was founded as a joint cooperative institution to foster intellectual and scientific interaction between Harvard University and Complutense, with the support of HM King Juan Carlos I, HM Queen Sofia of Spain and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It follows the tradition of the Royal Spanish College, founded in 1364 to host Spanish Visiting Scholars at the University of Bologna. The RCC accord is the only one of its sort ever to have been approved by Harvard. The institution is directed jointly by the President of Harvard and the Rector of Complutense University, with an academic council formed by 5 Harvard professors and 5 Complutense professors. It permits a select number of Complutense professors to conduct their research at Harvard as Visiting Scholars. RCC Fellows enjoy the same privileges as Harvard's non-tenured Faculty. Each year the institution hosts the RCC Fellows Lectures, a conference cycle during which the Visiting Scholars deliver lectures revealing the results of their investigations to an audience of Harvard professors and students. Finally, it also permits a small number of students to attend doctoral school at the University as Research Associates, under scholarships hosted by the Spanish Royal Family.
  • Collège des Hautes Études Européennes Miguel Servet (Paris, France):[33] founded upon the initiative of the Club Européen des Recteurs, the Collège des Hautes Études Européennes Miguel Servet is a Franco-Iberian center of learning and research located within the La Sorbonne. Besides specialized degrees, it offers programs focused on jurisprudence and economy within the European Union, a double-major program in Franco-Iberian law, and the Diplôme de Formation Européenne, which is operates under the auspices of the European Union and UNESCO. It was awarded a status of 'centre d'excellence', and in 1995 it opened chapters in Italy, Portugal, and South America.
  • Cátedra Complutense en la Universidad de Karlova (Prague, Czech Republic):[34] Full campus in operation, offering bachelor and doctoral degrees in partnership with Charles University (Univerzita Karlova v Praze) in Prague.
  • Cátedra Dubcek (Bratislava, Slovakia):[35] Full campus in operation, offering bachelor and doctoral degrees in partnership with Comenius University in Bratislava.

Famous alumni


Pre-20th century

Alexander Farnese

II Spanish Republic

Transition and Contemporary Administrations

Marcelino Oreja Aguirre

Royal Family

Journalism & Literature


Antonio de Nebrija teaching grammar in the presence of D. Juan de Zuniga.



Maths and Sciences




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See also

External links

Coordinates: 40°26′57″N 3°43′41″W / 40.44917°N 3.72806°W / 40.44917; -3.72806

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