The idea of a Polish-Ukrainian university in Lublin, the biggest town near the border with Ukraine with centuries’ old traditions of multiculturalism and cooperation and an important academic centre of Central and East European studies, was voiced in 1997 by Bohdan Osadchuk, professor of the Free University Berlin and an eminent Ukrainian émigré historian and journalist. The idea was very well received by the Lublin academic community and gained the support of Prof. Jerzy Kłoczowski, an outstanding Polish medievalist and Director of the Institute of East-Central Europe. It was also supported by Jerzy Giedroyc, Editor-in Chief of a highly influential Polish intellectual monthly Kultura issued in Paris, who had for decades of totalitarian oppression promoted the conception of cooperation of the states and nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Unveiling the plaque of the College by the then Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, actually President of Ukraine, on October 27, 2000 was a very symbolic act.

As a result, the Declaration regarding the establishment of the European Post-Graduate College of Polish and Ukrainian Universities and the subsequent Agreement establishing the ECPUU were signed in December 2000. Apart from the Polish and Ukrainian universities mentioned above, the College was also founded by the Institute of East-Central Europe (Lublin). Professor Jerzy Kłoczowski, Director of the Institute of East-Central Europe, was appointed Head of the Convention, the highest body of authority of the newly established College, and Ewa Rybałt became its first Chancellor.

Following the first inauguration of the academic year held in October 2001 some hundred young researchers from Poland and Ukraine were admitted for post-graduate studies at the ECPUU. Among the invited guests were Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of Poland and Leonid Kuchma, the then President of Ukraine. The first students of the ECPUU admitted in 2001 became at the same time Ph.D. students at one of five Lublin-based public institutions of higher education: the founding fathers, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University and the Catholic University of Lublin, as well as Agricultural Academy, the Technical University, and the Medical Academy which engaged in establishing the College, too. In 2002-2005, over 150 Ph.D. students were admitted to the ECPUU. In 2005, the first group of Ph.D. students admitted to the College in 2001, finished their post-graduate studies. Some dozens of them have already earned their Ph.D. degrees.

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