Today, the date that marked the official beginning of the history of Klaipėda University was solemnly commemorated in the Constitution Hall of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania. Precisely 30 years ago, on 5 October 1990, Chairman of the Supreme Council-Reconstituent Seimas Vytautas Landsbergis signed the Resolution of the Supreme Council No. 1-640 to establish Klaipėda University as of 1 January 1991.
A solemn meeting dedicated to the anniversary was attended by people who had witnessed a historic resolution: politicians and representatives of state institutions and of the national community of higher education. A large delegation of Klaipėda University community also took part in it: the people who created and are today creating the said higher education institution. Academician E. Jovaiša, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on Education and Science, and A. Monkevičius, Minister of Education, Science, and Sports, congratulated the community of KU. The then Chairman of the Supreme Council, KU Honorary Doctor prof. Vytautas Landsbergis made a speech to congratulate and express his support to KU: he emphasised the importance of this scientific institution for Lithuania. He recalled that, three decades ago, the main stimulus that led the heads of state to support the idea of establishing KU was the understanding that Lithuania was a maritime state. Therefore, it was necessary to act in order to establish the maritime character of the state immediately, before the virus of excessive greed that had destroyed the Lithuanian ocean-going fishing fleet and other projects could change the image of the state. “The mission of Klaipėda University is not merely to supplement the geographical panorama of the national higher education, but also to fill a certain part of the Lithuanian science panorama in the educational sense. Klaipėda University is of infinite importance for Lithuania. Let it succeed and never give up on its goals”, wished Vytautas Landsbergis, Honorary Doctor of KU.
In the presentations of the event, the three-decade-long history of KU was referred to more than once as having fundamentally changed the face of the port city. The then Chairman of Klaipėda City Council dr. Vytautas Čepas, a former initiator of the University and a witness to the historic Seimas meeting, said that the city leaders of that time had to resolve many inter-institutional disagreements and reconcile conflicting interests in both Klaipėda and Vilnius, however, the result of their efforts was Klaipėda University, now entering its fourth decade and arousing a feeling of pride. After 30 years of its existence, the University boasts over 38,000 graduates, currently it has 2,500 students, employs 550 academic staff and researchers, research is conducted in 60 laboratories, and 11 doctoral study programmes are implemented. “But it is not the numbers that are the most important; much more important is the changed spirit of the city, which is now filled not only with the breeze and the sound of ship sirens, but also with a completely free and independent academic spirit, free speech, bright colors, and young voices, everything that changed the city over the three decades and surrounded it with a charming and unique aura that cannot be found in any other Lithuanian city. Klaipėda before and after the university is two different cities,” concluded dr. Vytautas Čepas.
When addressing the former Rectors of Klaipėda University, prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas named the two elements of success of that institution _ a broad field of studies of the Baltic Sea and its region and internationality. “We are an exceptional higher education institution with an exceptional mission – to explore the Baltic Sea and the whole region from various perspectives: the natural, historical, and cultural environment. When it comes to exclusivity, it should be remembered that Klaipėda University is the only one that has its own fleet, which is both a learning base for students and a means of international scientific expeditions”, said the KU Rector. Another significant change in recent years, according to the Rector, was the integration of the University into the European Union project intended to create a new generation of European universities. Upon resolution of the European Commission, since 2019, Klaipėda University, together with its partners in France, Spain, Croatia, Romania, and Greece, has been part of an alliance EU-CONEXUS (European University for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability). The ambition of the alliance is to become a global leader in higher education and research for the sustainable development of smart coastal cities, and the ambition of Klaipėda University is to be a leader in higher education in the Baltic Region.
During the event, a book dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Klaipėda University establishment Klaipėda University. Stories of Old Buildings was presented, which vividly narrated the history of the former barracks and their transformation into a peaceful research centre.