Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino
Regia y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Thomás de Aquino
|Founder||Pope Paul III|
|Rector||Last: Bernardo Correa y Cidrón|
|Location||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
The Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino (St. Thomas Aquinas University) founded in 1538 in Santo Domingo, in the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, present-day Dominican Republic, was the first institution of higher education in the New World; it was followed by the Universidad de Santiago de la Paz, founded in 1540 also in Santo Domingo. It closed in 1823.
Founded during the reign of Charles I of Spain, it was originally a seminary operated by Catholic monks of the Dominican Order. Later, the institution was received a university charter by Pope Paul III's papal bull In Apostulatus Culmine, dated 28 October 1538; with this act it became the first university in the Americas.
Prior to its conversion into a full university, the institution had been a Studium Generate (seminary), founded in 1518 and operated by the Dominican Order.
In its structure and purpose the new university was modeled after the University of Alcalá in the city of Henares, Spain. In this capacity it became a standard-bearer for the medieval ideology of the Spanish Conquest, and gained its royal charter in 1558. In this royal decree, the university was given the name University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino).
The university was closed in 1801 under the French, but reopened in 1815 as a secular institution. It closed for good in 1823, during the Haitian occupation of Santo Domingo, when all students were ordered into military services.
The Autonomous University of Santo Domingo is the successor to the University of St. Thomas Aquinas.