The History of Ostroh Academy
The chronicle of formation and revival
The National University of Ostroh Academy is the successor of Ostroh Slavic, Greek and Latin Academy, the first institution of higher education of the Eastern Slavs. It was founded in 1576 by Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn of Ostroh. His niece, Princess Halshka of Ostroh, was the beneficiary of the Academy and spent a great deal of money on its development.
Basically, Ostroh Academy was quite common by the standards of European education of the Middle Ages, though unusual by the Ukrainian ones as the so-called ’Seven Liberal Arts’ (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), and higher sciences: philosophy, theology and medicine had been taught there.
The students of the Academy learnt five languages: Slavic, Polish, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The originality of this establishment consisted also in the fact that it was the first institution to unite two cultures, Byzantine and West European. Not surprisingly, the Renaissance of Ukrainian nation was connected with Ostroh Academy.
Ivan Fedorov’s printing house with Cyrillic type was the most developed Ukrainian publishing house of those times. It was established in Ostroh cultural center simultaneously with the Academy. Greek and Slavic ABC-Book, the first Ukrainian school-book (1578); The New Testament (1580); Tymofii Mykhailovych’s Sobranie Veshchey Nuzhneyshykh (Collection of Essential Things), the first directory of old printed texts in the history of Cyrillic polygraphy; Andrii Rymsha’s Chronology (1581), the first printed poetic masterpiece in Ukraine; first complete The Slavic Ostroh Bible (1581), a masterpiece of old-Ukrainian polygraphy; outstanding polemic works — A Key to Heavenly Kingdom, The New Roman Calendar (1587) by Herasym Smotrytskyi, Apokrysys by Christopher Filaret, etc. were published here. An Ostroh Academy graduate, Meletius Smotrytskyi, wrote the first fundamental Slavic Grammar (1619), which M.Lomonosov called ‘the gates to learning’.
A literary man Demian Nalyvaiko (the brother of Severyn Nalyvaiko, a leader of Cossack and Peasants Rebellion in 1593-1596); Kyrylo Lukaris, a Greek scientist and religious figure, a graduate of Padua Academy (the Rector of Ostroh Academy and later, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and after that, the Patriarch of Constantinople; Jan Latosz, an astronomer, mathematician, doctor of medicine, a graduate of Krakow and Padua Universities; Emmanuel Moshopulos, a Greek scientist and religious figure; Nikyfor Parashos-Kantakuzen, a graduate of Padua Academy, and others taught at the Academy. The first Rector of Ostroh Academy was Herasym Smotrytskyi, the prominent enlightener and cultural figure, a teacher, polemicist and poet.
Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi, the Hetman of Zaporizhian Host; Iov Boretskyi, the first Rector of Kyiv Brotherhood School; Yelesey Pletenetskyi, an archimandrite of Kyiv Lavra; a writer Meletii Smotrytskyi, Zakharia Kopystensky, the author of famous Palinode; a famous religious and cultural figure Isakia Boryskovych and others were among the graduates of the Academy.
Ostroh Academy ceased to exist in 1636. Yet the results of its activity did not disappear without leaving any trace. This type of institution of higher education was shifted to Kyiv from where it spread to Moldova and Moscow.
The chronicles of the revived Ostroh Academy in Independent Ukraine started in 1994 with the Decree of the President of Ukraine. By virtue of succeeding decrees of the President of Ukraine, development of Ostroh Academy received a new impact for further growth. In October 2000, Ostroh Academy officially became the National University.
Accordingly to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on July, 29, 2009 № 798, the Academy received the status of autonomous research national institution of higher education.