The University Yesterday
Owing to the faculties of mining and metallurgy, the new technical university at the centre of the industrial zone of Borsod had a two-and-a-half-century-long history. The predecessors of the two faculties were operating in Selmecbánya until 1919 and then, until 1949, in Sopron. Between 1949 and 1959 the departments of the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering and the Faculty of Mining Engineering gradually moved to Miskolc.
In 1735 the Court Chamber of Vienna founded a school of mining and metallurgy in order to train specialists according to the requirements of the industrial revolution, and to upgrade precious metal and copper mining in Hungary (which was playing an important role in European relations).
In the Hapsburg Empire the school of Selmecbánya was the first school founded by the state and operating under non-ecclesiastical control. One of the first professors of the school was Samuel Mikoviny, who was an engineer and mathematician of outstanding knowledge, and a dominant figure in Hungarian cartography.
Between 1762 and 1770 with the establishment of three departments the school gradually became an academy of mining and metallurgy training specialists for the whole of the Hapsburg Empire.
In 1763 the antiphlogistonic chemist N. J. Jacquin, later the professor and rector of the University of Vienna, was appointed as the head of the first department, the Department of Metallurgy, Chemistry and Mineralogy.
His successor was G. A. Scopoli, who was invited to the University Pavia (Italy) from Selmecbánya.
In 1770 with the foundation of the third department - the Department of Mining - the organisation of the three-year academy had been established. The first professor of the Department of Mining was Chr. T. Delius. He completed his studies at the University of Göttingen and at the Mining School of Selmec, and he was the author of a world-famous work on mining. Delius, as well as his successor at the department, J. Peithner, were called to the Court Chamber of Vienna to manage the metallurgical and mining activities of the whole empire. Selmecbánya was the first place in the world to start special engineers' training in mining and metallurgy (in 1765 in Freiberg, in 1770 in Berlin, in 1773 in St. Petersburg, after that in Clausthal, Madrid, Paris, Mexico City, etc.).
The first international technical association in the world was established in 1786 at Szklenó, near Selmecbánya, under the direction of professors from Selmec. This association (Societät der Bergbaukunde) had some 154 members from 13 European countries as well as from Mexico and Bogota, and included such famous scientists as Lavoisier, Goethe and Watt.
In 1848-49 the students from Hungary joined the war of independence while the other students left Selmec. The academy came under the direction of the Hungarian Government's secretary of religious and public education and they tried to introduce the Hungarian language into forestry training. Owing to the unstable situation and the autocracy, teaching was delayed until 1850 at the academy. Many of the professors and the students died during the revolution, were sent to prison or were dismissed. New schools were established for the Austrian students in Leoben and for the Czech-Moravian students in Pribram. Later on these institutions became academies.
In 1867 with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise the academy became a Hungarian state institution named the Hungarian Royal Academy of Mining and Forestry. The Hungarian language was gradually introduced into teaching between 1868 and 1872. By 1872 the structure and training of the academy had been reformed completely. Mining training - which in those days meant mining, metallurgy and minting in one - had been divided into four branches: mining, non-ferrous metallurgy, ferrous metallurgy, as well as machinery and civil engineering. Forestry training split into two branches: general forestry and forest engineering.
At the turn of the 19th century the academy was upgraded with new buildings and up-to-date laboratories. From 1904 it was operating as a College of Mining and Forestry.
The most outstanding figures of the Selmec era's second century were Chr. Doppler, Antal Kerpely, István Farbaky, István Schenek, Ottó Cséti, Emil Herrmann, Hugó Böckh and Géza Zemplén.
World War I exploded hopes for the development of the college. Four-fifths of students went to the front line, more than 50 of them died at several battlegrounds in Europe, and many more were seriously injured or became prisoners of war before they could return to their Alma-Mater.
In 1919 - when Selmecbánya became part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia - the college moved to Sopron in Western Hungary. Mostly owing to the armed resistance of the students, Sopron was not given to Austria in the peace treaty.
The name of the Alma-Mater from 1922 was The College of Mining and Forest Engineering. Teaching was under way in four branches: mining engineering, non-ferrous metallurgical engineering, ferrous metallurgical engineering and forestry engineering.
The departments of mining and metallurgy operated in this organisation until 1949, when they became the Faculty of Mining Engineering and the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering of the Technical University for Heavy Industry.
In 1952 the departments of the metallurgical faculty moved to Miskolc. Until 1959 the mining engineering training was divided between Miskolc and Sopron in such a way that the first two years were taught in Miskolc, while the upper years in Sopron. This was the case until 1959, when the departments of mining moved to Miskolc. Based on the subjects of the former college, and utilising all its buildings, today's University for Forestry and Timber Industry was created in Sopron.
Some of the outstanding figures of the Sopron era are: József Finkey, whose books on mineral dressing were published in the United States, Germany and the Soviet Union, the iron metallurgist Ernő Cotel and the analytical chemist József Mika, whose books were published abroad, Géza Boleman, author of the classic work on Hungarian electro-technology, János Mihalovits, who explored the history of the university and mining, Antal Tárczy-Hornoch professor for geodesy, Károly Simonyi, physicist, Simon Papp, István Vitális, Miklós Vendel and Elemér Szádeczky-Kardoss, all professors of geology.
The first teaching day in Miskolc was on 18 September 1949. Some 500 students of mining, metallurgical and mechanical engineering were presented with a flag by the workers of the ironworks of Diósgyőr.
In 1953, at the first degree day ceremony in Miskolc, 236 metallurgical and mechanical engineers received their degrees. At the same time in Sopron 59 degrees for mining engineering were awarded.
To meet the growing needs of the economy both part-time and correspondence tuition were launched; the first students received their degrees in 1954 and in 1957, respectively.
In 1959 the departments of Mining Faculty moved from Sopron to Miskolc. At that time the three faculties of the university had 28 departments. The early 1960s saw the start of a drive towards an improvement and expansion of university facilities: the central workshop, the main building of the university with a lecture hall, the refectory, the seventh hall of residence, the central library, the sports hall, etc. were built.
In 1969 the scope of the university increased with the creation of the College for Metallurgy in Dunaújváros, and in 1970 with the College for Chemical Industry and Automation.