The University of Brescia was officially founded in 1982, divided into the three faculties of Medicine, Engineering, and Business and Economics. However, the development phase lasted almost 20 years and the first attempts to bring university courses to Brescia date back to the early 1960s. There was a first initiative by the Chamber of Commerce and the provincial administration, which started negotiations for the establishment of a two-year engineering course as a detachment of the Politecnico di Milano. The project was abandoned due to the excessive financial burden of the estimate drawn up by the Politecnico.
After this first timid attempt, the formation of the embryonic nuclei of the future faculties in Brescia followed two separate paths, one concerning the Faculty of Business and Economics and the other the Faculties of Engineering and Medicine.
A School of Industrial Administration was created in the field of economic studies in 1964. The two-year course was based in Brescia but, for administrative and teaching purposes, reported to the University of Parma. The promoting bodies of the School were the Associazione Industriale Bresciana (Brescia Industrial Association), which had already experimentally started a decentralised, first year course of the Faculty of Business and Economics in Parma in the two preceding years, and the Fondazione Milziade Tirandi, set up in 1915 and involved in the management of post-diploma specialisation courses in foreign trade from the 1920s. The intervention of the Fondazione Tirandi, a university foundation, with “…the prerequisites of legitimacy to manage a Faculty,” enabled the start of the School of Industrial Administration.
At the end of the 1960s, at the request of the students, the teaching at the Brescia site was extended to third and fourth year courses. The problem of the teaching site was solved by the Chamber of Commerce, which made its historic building, the Casa dei Mercanti at Corso Mameli 27, available.
At the start of the 1970s, the academic authorities in Parma allowed the Brescia site to hold degree exams in addition to the ones checking progress.
ENGINEERING AND MEDICINE
The establishment of the Faculties of Engineering and Medicine followed a different path. After the first failed attempt in the early 1960s, the idea of creating a university centre in Brescia gained momentum in the second half of that decade with the set-up of the Consorzio Universitario Bresciano (CUB - Brescia University Consortium), supported by the provincial administration, the Municipality of Brescia and the Chamber of Commerce. In 1969, the Ente Universitario della Lombardia Orientale (EULO - Eastern Lombardy University Body), a consortium that was strongly pushed by the mayor Bruno Boni and formed by the Municipality and Province, succeeded the CUB.
Lessons in the Mechanical Engineering degree course, “through the tool of repeating the courses held (at the Politecnico di Milano) in Brescia” started as a result of the EULO from the 1969-1970 academic year. At first, the provisional site was the Gerolamo Emiliani boarding school at Mompiano, to the north of the city, initially intended to host an orphanage for boys and then extended with a ‘teaching module’ specially created by the EULO.
The courses in Medicine, managed by a Technical Scientific Committee and with the co-operation of the Universities of Milan and Parma, started in 1971, once again through the initiative of the EULO. The Faculty of Medicine was naturally sited at the Spedali Civili. Students were enrolled at and graduated from one of the two partner universities.
TOWARDS THE FOUNDATION OF THE UNIVERSITY
The parallel paths leading to the formation of the Faculty of Economics, on one hand, and the medical-engineering centre on the other, came together in 1982 when the EULO took over the management of the School of Industrial Administration from the Fondazione Tirandi. Thus, the project for a University of Brescia was finally implemented on 14 August 1982 with Law 590/82, which established the University of Brescia, with the Faculties of Medicine (with two degree courses in Medicine and Dentistry and Prosthetic Dentistry), Engineering (with the degree course in Mechanical Engineering) and Business and Economics (with the corresponding degree course).
In January 1983, Bruno Boni, chairman of the EULO, signed the formal deed of understanding with the new University of Brescia, committing his organisation to advancing the necessary management and investment expenses. The university was represented by Attilio Gastaldi, chairman of the Technical Administrative Committee that would have supported the university until December 1983, before being replaced by the University Board of Directors (whose first meeting was held in February 1984). In the meantime, Prof. Augusto Preti was appointed as the first Rector on 7 November 1983. There was immediately the independent start of the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering. However, the Faculty of Economics was supported by an Organising Committee chaired by Prof. Innocenzo Gasparini for almost two years.
In 1984, the first Specialisation Schools in the Faculty of Medicine were set up; these have been progressively increased to the current 35.
In the 1986-87 academic year, the Civil Engineering degree course was instituted while that of Dentistry and Prosthetic Dentistry, envisaged by the establishing law, was activated in the 1988-89 academic year once the necessary building was available at the Spedali Civili. The Electronic Engineering degree course was established with the 1990-91 academic year and Management Engineering started the following year.
There was a first and, for the time being, only expansion of the Faculties in 1996 with the establishment of the Faculty of Law, strongly stimulated by the fact that Brescia was the home of the Court of Appeal and the Regional Administrative Tribunal and the result of the transformation of the corresponding degree course, activated at the Faculty of Economics in the 1992-93 academic year, into a Faculty.
In the meantime, the policy for the acquisition of new sites by the university and the relocation of various Faculties to other local areas was being outlined. During the 1990s, significant acquisitions of prestigious historical buildings were made as sites for the Economics and Law Faculties. These included the former Monastery of San Faustino, which became the site for some departments of the Faculty of Business and Economics, and the university’s teaching secretariats from 1997, and the S. Chiara complex, inaugurated in 2001, site of the lecture rooms and other departments of the Economics Faculty. Palazzo Calini ai Fiumi became the home of the new Faculty of Law in 1999. Referring to the scientific centre in the north of the city, the structure of the Faculty of Medicine was specially built by the EULO in the area next to the hospital from 1971 and has recently more than doubled in size. The scientific centre is also the new site for the Faculty of Engineering, inaugurated in 1992 and recently extended.