Early History and History of the faculty


Early History of the Faculty

With respect to the tradition of higher education in Trnava, and thus for the tradition in Slovakia and even then-Hungary, we have to emphasize that it was right in Trnava, where – after a brief functioning of Academia Istropolitana in Bratislava – the first authentic and comprehensive university in Slovakia was founded. The university came into existence in 1635 with just two faculties: Faculty of Arts and Theological Faculty. In 1667, the Law Faculty was added, while the Medical Faculty was established as late as 1769. This was a genuine study “generale” in the very meaning of the word, and Trnava had no reason to feel less valuable among other Central-European universities in Vienna, Prague, Olomouc, Krakow, Graz and Innsbruck. Alongside its four faculties, it created a broad institutional basis earning due respect even today: library, archives, collections, cabinets, printing house meeting all, European standards, theatre, pharmacy, botanical garden, astronomical observatory, dormitories, villa and farm in Biely Kostol (proudly named Albanum). All university facilities with the beautiful early baroque church – now the archbishop’s cathedral of Trnava diocese – reach far beyond a Slovak context and earn due respect even from occasional visitors to Trnava.

Based on the ruling of Maria Theresa, the university was moved to Buda (today’s Hungary) in 1777. The Royal Academy of Law (offering a combined three-year study of philosophy and law) remained in Trnava; however, in 1784, it was transferred to Bratislava. Trnava was left as if deserted. Nevertheless, shortly afterwards, Anton Bernolák and Juraj Fándly founded the Slovak Guild of Scholars in Trnava and thus returned the town back to Slovak cultural history.

Cardinal Peter Pazmáň, founder of the university, did not establish the law faculty from the outset, yet he anticipated its existence in the future. This is proven by the wording of the foundation charter of 12 May 1635: “We were often contemplating in our minds (Saepe nobiscum anxie expedentes…) possible ways to spread Catholic religion in the Hungarian Kingdom, and provide for the dignity of the noble Hungarian nation. We recognized the foundation of the university as a principal step among other auxiliary measures, since the university can cultivate minds of this combative nation, while at the same time, capable people can earn education needed for church management and for public administration (… quam Reipublicae administrandae informarentur).” Consequently, there were no formal obstacles to establish the Law Faculty in Trnava.

And this is exactly what happened on the 2nd January 1667 when Vaca bishop Frantisek Segedi and Bishop Juraj Pongrac implemented testaments written by Esztergom bishop Juraj Lipai and his predecessor, Imrich Losi. They both left some financial amounts for the opening of the law faculty. Jan Pavol Oliva, General of the Society of Jesus, together with Austrian provincial Michal Sicuten and rector of the university, Ladislav Vid, granted their approvals to open the faculty.

The Charter reads, inter alia: “Since it was established according to the model of other faculties of the given university, this faculty will have its own sceptre and seal and other insignia and ceremonies, in conformity with the custom adopted by other universities falling under the Society. The office of the faculty dean will be held alternatively by a canonist and a professor of civil law (Roman law). In accordance with academic tradition, they will be entitled to organize graduations of doctors and lead public disputes.”

The ancient law faculty introduced four subjects: canon law, Roman law, Hungarian civil corporeal law and Hungarian procedural law, and in 1686 also Hungarian criminal law. We should underline the study of Hungarian law since it was not quite common at other universities to focus on domestic law. The law faculty in Trnava has to be credited for publishing and commenting on Corpus Iuris Hungarici, a collection of Hungarian law.

Needless to say, the contemporary Law Faculty of Trnava University continues the old tradition and its spiritual legacy. Of course, its renewal was preceded by establishment (renewal) of the university. Once again, the situation repeated itself. As in the 17th Century, Trnava University (re-)opened without its law faculty. It happened on the proposal of a group of members of the Slovak Parliament from February 22, 1992, who recalled the tradition of Trnava University from 1635-1777. An explanatory note to this bill emphasized the need “to use this historical gem (sc. Trnava University) of the Slovak nation for the revival of its spiritual freedom, culture and humanism.” The Law No 191/1992 Coll., establishing Trnava University with its seat in Trnava, reopened Trnava university de iure as of July 1, 1992, with only two faculties: Faculty of Human Sciences, to cultivate national Christian spiritual values in the tradition of European culture and democracy; and the Pedagogical Faculty, to instruct and educate teachers who would be able to educate young people in accordance with the Christian spirit and morality. Gradually, two other faculties were added:

the Faculty of Health Care and Social Work (1994), Theological Faculty (1997), and last but not least, the Law Faculty (1998).


History of the Faculty

The idea to establish or re-establish the Law Faculty at Trnava University resonated in Trnava rather soon mainly because the management of the re-established university understood the mission of Trnava University in the same spirit as during ancient times. Consequently, they needed the law faculty to make the university complete. Professor RNDr. Anton Hajduk, DrSc., then-rector of the University, committed himself to accomplish this task. Back in 1994, professor Hajduk met his counterpart, professor JUDr. Michal Severinsky, rector of Lodž University, to discuss the main issues and problems in the process of establishment of the faculty. They also discussed the first drafts of study programmes prepared by professor JUDr. Helena Barancová, DrSc., and professor JUDr. Marek Šmid. In 1995, professor Hajduk entered into negotiations with representatives of higher law education in Bratislava.

Professor MUDr. Ladislav Šoltés, DrSc., the new rector of Trnava University, continued in these efforts. In January 1998, the first round of negotiations took place in his office and the idea was met with mutual understanding of all participants, the rector, the relevant academic community of Trnava University, including professor JUDr. Prusák, SCs., and professor JUDr. Peter Blaho, CSc. This meeting commissioned the university rector to take relevant steps to establish the law faculty in conformity with the Higher-Education Act. At the same time, the rector promised to create all material preconditions for the functioning of the faculty in the academic year 1998/1999. Participating legal theoreticians promised to draft a project of re-establishment of the law faculty in February 1998 – namely its curriculum, as well as professional and material aspects.

After this meeting, the following events took place quickly. A project of renewal of the law faculty was drafted and submitted to the academic senate alongside with the proposal for creation of the law faculty. The academic senate of Trnava University approved establishment of the Law Faculty on March 5, 1998. Afterwards, the rector submitted a proposal for establishment of the faculty to the accreditation commission of the Slovak republic. During its session on September 24, 1998, the commission delivered its affirmative position. It approved establishment of the faculty and proposed its scope of activities in master’s, rigor, habilitation and inauguration programmes. Finally, the education minister Eva Slavkovská, sent a letter to the university rector informing him that the Ministry of Education approved the establishment of the Law Faculty at Trnava University in Trnava. Consequently, in line with relevant regulations and his document of October 1, 1998, rector Šoltés established the Law Faculty with the seat in Trnava, Hornopotočná 23. He appointed professor JUDr. Peter Blaho, CSc. statutory representative of the faculty in anticipation of regular election of the dean.

In the course of the approval process, several important facts arose and were taken into consideration for establishment and functioning of the faculty. Primarily, the main characteristics of the faculty were elaborated, based on these ideas:

a)      the faculty should become at least a regional centre of Slovak legal education. It should pursue moral principles of Christianity and Roman law, which define law as “the art of the good and equitable (justice)”, and legal science as a science about the just and unjust;

b)      the faculty should provide a general master’s programme in the field of law, i.e. a five-year university study accomplished with a state exam and defence of thesis;

c)      re-establishment of the faculty is historically justified by the fact that law study in Trnava has been proven in historical documents as the beginning of a systematic university study of law in Slovakia;

d)      re-establishment of the faculty is further justified by the contemporary mission of the university – there is no university par excellence without the law faculty;

e)      the faculty will introduce progressive ways of teaching, for instance a tutorial system, law clinics, new forms of linkage to legal practice, introduction of lectures in English and German which will take TU closer to pedagogical and academic standards of globally renowned universities;

f)       the rationale behind re-establishment of the faculty also rests in ideological issues among that part of the communist legal community who understood law as violence and a tool in the hands of the powerful against the weak. Law faculties in a totalitarian regime were under permanent ideological pressure, enhanced through corruption, which had a negative impact not only on academic officials and teaching staff, but also on the low quality of graduates. Even now the image of a smart lawyer capable of circumventing or even breaching law is vivid in our society, rather than a moral and legal duty of lawyers to implement justice and decency based on constitution and law;

g)      the establishment and functioning of the faculty will be guaranteed by: professor JUDr. Helena Barancová, DrSc., professor JUDr. Peter Blaho, CSc., doc. JUDr. Alexandra Krsková, CSc., professor JUDr. Jozef Prusák, CSc, and doc. JUDr. Marek Šmid, PhD.;

h)      the faculty will function within the budget allocated to Trnava university.