The History of Herzen University
The Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia (Herzen University) is one of the oldest teacher-training institutions in the country. It was founded on 2(14) May 1797 by Emperor Paul I as St. Petersburg Educational House, and later lay the foundations for other pedagogical institutions in the XIX – early XX centuries. These were formed into a single pedagogical institute by Decree of the People’s Commissar for Education on 1 September 1918. On 15 January 1920 the Presidium of the All-Union Executive Committee decreed that the institute be named after Alexander Herzen. The Ministry of Education, in issuing order No. 25 of 24 January 1991, gave Leningrad State Pedagogical Institute university status, and it has been called the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia since then.
The university’s contribution to Russian society has been substantial, and we recall with pride the names of the outstanding scientists and scholars who have worked at Herzen University, making their significant contributions to the development of the country’s science and industry. Among them are such luminaries as academician I. Kurchatov, the father of the Russian nuclear physics school; professor A. Gershun, the founder of the optical industry; the astronomer S. Glasenapp; academician V. Ipatieff, an army general and a chemist; A. Fersman, the pioneer of geochemistry, professor V. Perekalin, the chemist who supervised the development of the pharmaceutical drug Phenibut, used in aerospace medicine and child psychiatry. The plethora of famous Herzen personalities includes pedagogues P. Kapterev, V. Soroka-Rossinsky, and A. Pinkevich; chemists V. Verkhovsky, and A. Favorsky, the botanist V. Komarov, geographers V. Semenov-Tian-Shansky and Yu. Shokalsky, physiologists L. Orbeli and K. Bykov, the mathematician G. Fikhtengolts, historians E. Tarle, V. Struve, A. Presnyakov, S. Oldenburg, B. Grekov, the psychologist L. Vygotsky, philologists S. Ozhegov, L. Scherba, V. Zhirmunsky, N. Marr, writers M. Gorky and E. Zamyatin, and many others. Today Herzen University employs more than 1700 scholars, 1000 of whom hold Candidate of Science degrees, 300 are Doctors of Science, 6 are academicians and 9 are corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Education, and 23 are Honoured Scientists of the Russian Federation. In 2012 Professor A. Grib, Department of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy, was awarded the gold medal by the Telesio-Galilei Academy of Science (TGA 2012) for his fundamental contribution to the development of the theory of quantum fields in curved space.
The University's library possesses a unique collection, which includes books issued as far back as the 11th century and rare publications of the 18th-20th centuries; it numbers more than 3 million items.
The main University campus is situated in the very centre of the old St. Petersburg within 5-15 minute walk of the major historic and cultural places of the city. The buildings constructed by famous architects of the 18th century form a beautiful ensemble along the granite Moika Embankment. This architectural complex was included into the list of world heritage objects by UNESCO in 1990. The Herzen University was officially registered as a national historic and cultural landmark by the presidential decree in 1998.