The founding of the University in the city of Arequipa can be traced to two clearly differentiated historical periods. In both periods, the efforts deployed by institutions and the Arequipa intelligentsia stand out clearly, interpreting the yearnings of a city which as part of the Republic, can be called a beacon of freedom and law .
In the first stage, it was the Dominican Fathers who, after arduous and constant efforts, succeeded in getting King Felipe V to grant, by proclamation dated January 22, 1714, a Royal and Pontifical University License in the Convent of Santo Domingo. The license was solemnly inaugurated in 1719 and then later suspended because the Convent could not sustain it, according to the work by revered Arequipa master Don Federico M. Ugarte, published in the University Magazine in 1929.
Later, it was the Mercedarian community, which was always in competition with the Dominicans and Jesuits in promoting the instruction supported by the July 1765 Order of the Provincial Capital. That order contained an agreement to found a Royal College and Pontifical University based on the famous University of Alcalá de Henares, as it appears in the works of Arequipa historian Padre Víctor M. Barriga, published in Magazine No. 37 of the UNSA. Unfortunately, the initial file was lost in the Chamber Offices and the proceedings were halted.
The second stage corresponds to the efforts and efforts made by the institutions and the community, the years immediately following the declaration of our political independence. A fundamental milestone was the foundation of the Lauretana Academy on December 10, 1821 in the Temple of the Society, consecrated to the Blessed Virgin of Loreto, and in which were combined the most brilliant personalities of the clergy and civility. This communion with the common libertarian spirit of the Fatherland generated renewed ideas.
The established management of the university was ended by the liberator Simon Bolivar, who, as he passed through southern Peru on his way to the highlands, gathered the support of the citizens. On August 6, 1865, at his headquarters in the City of Puno, and through his interim Secretary General Felipe Santiago de Estenós, Bolivar ordered Don Antonio Gutierrez de la Fuente to deliver an ordinance to the to the Prefect of Arequipa, which declared the establishment of a college of science, arts, public health, and other disciplines, which would contribute to the advancement and happiness of the region. While this single document did not contain a decree properly issued by Bolivar to create the College of American Independence and the University, it did provide a general directive to create such an institution as heretofore described. The real driver of both institutions was Don Antonio Gutiérrez de la Fuente, with the support and full backing of the members of the Lauretana Academy, as documented by the Secretary of the University on November 12, 1830, and published by the government administered by Pedro Benavides, who recognizes Don Antonio as its creator and protector, recognizing also the decisive support of the Grand Marshal Santa Cruz, who as President of the Council of Government, made available the space of the Augustinian Fathers as headquarters of the college and the University, alerting the faculty and providing the necessary funds.
In a memorable and solemn ceremony on November 11, 1828,the National Memorial of the Great Father San Agustín of the Department of Arequipa was declared officially installed, as recorded in the memorable yet emotional Founding Act. The act itself was quite impressive, and to read it creates a sense of awe, inspiration, and often tears. It points to the spirit and power of humanity, of people bringing together their best qualities to experience the joy of community and citizenry. The creation of this “Temple of Knowledge,” at this precise moment in history was quite auspicious but expectations were high. The arrival of this respected House of Higher Studies at a time when the nation was triumphant with fresh and vigorous republican thoughts set in motion a dawn of ideals, and the triumph of intelligence over dogmatic darkness; of life and science over sleeping ignorance.
The University progressed along with the liberated country. From that memorable date, November 11, 1828, until this moment, our University, like the rest of the country, has gone through institutional crises, conflicts, convulsions, struggles, marches, counter-marches, failures, successes, interventions by foreign agents, and the ongoing struggle and agony in defense of its autonomy. These important reforms and transformations of the Peruvian University, along with our collective maturity, allow us to realistically confront and forge the design, structure, and organization of a new model of the Peruvian University. Augustinian by nature and Peruvian by circumstance, our university takes the transcendental leap toward economic independence, while attempting to consolidate our political and economic freedom and our cultural personality.
Fortunately, there is a community and institutional consensus among professors, students, teachers, and staff, to coordinate a sustained, responsible and thoughtful effort to fulfill such a patriotic and elevated mission.