The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile was founded on June 21, 1888 by Monsignor Mariano Casanova, Archbishop of Santiago. His goal was to create an institution capable of blending academic excellence and training based on the Christian doctrine. The local and universal historical context that the Church faced when the University was founded inspired the institution to train professionals who led Christian lives and who could renew energies for the coming generations. The first Rector was Monsignor Joaquín Larraín Gandarillas and the first two faculties were Law, Physical Sciences and Math.
In 1889, the Faculty of Legal Sciences was created, along with the San Juan Evangelista Academy and two professional schools: the San Rafael Commercial and Literary Academy and the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Industrial School. In 1984 the University offered the first architecture course, which served as a starting point for that discipline in Chile. The first graduates of the Pontificia Universidad Católica completed majors in civil engineering, arquitecture, and law.
The relationship between the University and the Vatican began when the University was founded. The founding decree of the University received the general approval and blessing of Pope Leo XIII on July 28, 1889. Four decades later, Pope Pius XI canonically founded the University by means of a rescripton on February 11, 1930. The University accepted the formal commitment to participate in the activities of the Church and create a Faculty of Theology. On May 1, 1935, the Faculty of Theology began academic activities. Once this Faculty was founded, the University earned the names « Católica » and « Pontificia », as it was now ready to undertake the functions assigned to it as an organ of the Church, and participant in its divine service.
Between 1920 and 1953, which corresponds to the period when Monsignor Carlos Casanueva Opazo was rector, six new faculties (Architecture, Commerce, Philosophy, Education Sciences, Medicine, Technology, and Theology) and 4 new schools (Social Work, Nursing, Biological Sciences and Plastic Arts) were created, along with the Sports Club, the Hospital and the Student Federation of the University.
Monsignor Casanueva’s succesors were Alfredo Silva Santiago, Fernando Castillo Velasco, Jorge Swett, Juan de Dios Vial Correa, Pedro Pablo Rosso Rosso and Ignacio Sánchez Díaz, the current President.
In spite of the changes, the University has always aimed to achieve a solid education, founded in the sciences, arts, humanities and Catholic morals. Thus, the University aims for its students to be not only technically and scientifically prepared, but also to be open to different human realities and to the social and personal responsibilities involved in the complete development of a society.
Throughout the history of the University, this first aim has been continuously fulfilled.
Source: PUC Chile Website