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University "Angel Kanchev" University of Ruse

The idea for a higher school in Ruse has existed "for ages". As evidence I can cite information in the newspaper "Narodna borba"(Ruse) of 1 February 1940 on a meeting of the 45th General Assembly of the Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where the issue for establishing a higher school in Ruse by the state was raised.

Since May 1945 these efforts had been directly addressed to "the authorities in Sofia". Most probably the time was considered appropriate for at least three reasons:
1. The imposed decentralization of higher education in Bulgaria.
2. Establishing or plans for establishing higher schools not only in big cities like Plovdiv and Varna, but also in Gabrovo.
3. The status of the town - a center of a large region with well represented industry. Nearly 100 enterprises could not only provide places for student practice, but they would also demand engineering personnel.

The Municipality of Ruse established a special Committee with the task to investigate the conditions for a future higher school in our city. The results from the investigation were positive because the condition in Ruse were indeed favourable. It was estimated that the future higher school in Ruse should not be a competitor of the one in Varna, but it should have its own profile, consisting of areas of study such as industrial chemistry, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering; in other words, the newly established higher technical school should be "one of a kind".

The cooperation of the central state was persistently sought. Stoil D. Mishev, Georgi Tokushev and Dimitar Ikonomow visited the capital, where they had a meeting with the Regent Venelin Ganev and other statesmen. The purpose of these meetings was to confirm the strong desire of the citizens of Ruse to have a higher technical school established in their city. The hardships were unexpected - on 29 September 1945 Stancho Cholakov was replaced as a Minister of Education by Stoyan Kosturkov, who was not familiar with the mission of the Ruse delegation. “We made a lot of efforts to convince him that the issue has been investigated by his predecessor", reported the Mayor St. D. Mashev at the Municipal meeting of 5 November 1945. Yet, there was some hope in his words - the draft of the bill was going through the procedures.​

On 31 October 1945 the respective 5th Ministerial Decree was issued and on 6 November, the Prime Minister signed a report to the Regents, including this Decree.  The Decree for establishing a higher technical school in Ruse was approved on 12 November 1945. Article 1 determined the name "State Higher Technical School in Ruse”, while Art.2 determined its structure - a Mechanical Engineering Faculty with departments of industrial chemistry, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Those departments were also to be interpreted as degree programmes, and not as faculties as the people of Ruse had wanted.

The temporary municipal council with the Ruse People's Municipality discussed its duties for supporting the higher school at a meeting held on the very next day, 13 November 1945.

I will offer some details here, which are not widely known.

The native home of the Regent Venelin Ganev, who signed the Decree for the establishing of the Ruse Higher Technical School together with Tsvyatko Boboshevski and Todor Pavlov, was on Kaloyan street in Ruse.

The Municipality of Ruse decided to rename the street to Regent Professor Venelin Ganev street as a sign of "appreciation and gratitude" of the citizens of Ruse to the statesman who "provided invaluable help from the high position he held". The fact that Regent Ganev treated favourably  this "appreciation of the people of Ruse", "albeit modest" becomes public in issue 513 of the newspaper "Dunavski Otechestwen front" (26 May 1946), where the official opening ceremony for the Higher Technical School, the long speech of Venelin Ganev and the decision of the Municipal Council of 17 May 1946 were reported.

Almost a year later (25 April 1947) the Municipality decided to declare the former Prime Minister of Bulgaria (9 September 1944 - 31 March 1946, 31 March 1946 - 23 November 1946 ), Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion an honorary citizen of Ruse. One of the motives was: in relation to "his contribution to the town of Ruse and the Ruse Higher technical School”.

The third person to whom the citizens of Ruse were grateful for his support on the issue of the Higher technical School was the Prime Minister Georgi Dimitrov. On 22 January 1947 a delegation from Ruse visited him and implored him "not to close down their higher school". Several addresses of gratitude  from the management of the higher school and the student community for the advocacy of the Prime Minister and his "stately wisdom" have been preserved.

On 8 June 1946, after  the issuing of the Decree and the official opening of the Ruse higher school, different variants were discussed in the Municipality of Ruse for its location: the site of the Military club the sites of the two barracks - infantry and artillery, the site around the III Grammar school, the municipal property around the French boarding house in the park alleys. The lack of a Master plan was a considerable obstacle for making a final decision.

On 15 June the issue was once again on the agenda. On the eve of the meeting the Mayor invited architects and engineers on a work meeting to ask them for the most suitable place for building. They chose a site of about 30 dca, municipal property meant for a future park with the following borders: the banks of the Danube to the north; the park "Prince Simeon of Turnovo - to the east; “Alei Vazrazhdane” - to the south; the male catholic boarding house - to the west. It was decided to donate this site to the Ministry of People's Education "for building the State Higher  Technical School".

The Municipality saw the solution to the issue of academic staff in attracting renowned production engineers to become lecturers, or using the services of lectures from abroad (Czechoslovakia was mentioned).

Funds to the amount of 300 million leva were allocated by the Municipality for the construction and were to be implemented in the course of 5 years. A special committee was appointed to see to the financial issues and representatives of different organisations were invited as members (Union of Engineers and Architects, Union of Traders, Union of Craftsmen, Union of Technicians), as well as representatives of enterprises ( factories like "Izkustvo", "ZHITI", First Bulgarian Petroleum Industry, etc.), banks schools, etc. A committee was established with the Foundation "Building and Refurbishing of the Higher technical School”, which approached the Board of Directors of the Industrial Society of Ruse, asking for material support. The Board of Directors favoured the appeal and issued a circular letter to its members to that effect.

On 25 August 1948, at a joint meeting of the Ruse City Council, the management of the Regional Council, the management of the City and Municipal Committee of the Fatherland Front, the Chairman of the Council Alexander Kovachev pointed out: “All conditions have been established for the normal work of lectures and students. Millions and millions of levs have been invested. And we can proudly announce that the result is positive.".

To this reality the Mayor added his worry that the future of the higher technical school was in danger, just like it was years ago, when the Prime Minister had to intervene in favour of the Ruse higher school. “It looks as though there is some kind of evil game here that pesters Ruse. This issue should be solved once and for all in a positive direction. Not only because it is of interest to Ruse, but also because it is the wisest ", concluded Alexander Kovachev.

As in other situations, a committee was established with the purpose to go to Sofia and insist on preserving the Ruse Higher technical school since it was an integral part of the development of Ruse - a city with a future “huge manufacturing plant”, with “shipbuilding plant and numerous other plants”, with 'a large distribution power plant”. Conversely, closing down the Higher Technical School would have "an extremely negative political reflection”.

Unfortunately, the arguments of Ruse were not heard. In the autumn, the Higher Technical School was closed down. I can't say when and how it happened. I suppose that the students we redirected to the State Polytechnical University. Years later some of them return to Ruse as lecturers. In the beginning of 1949, instead of taking care of improving and expanding the facilities, the City Council discussed the issue of remising "the building of the former politechnical higher school" to somebody.

It is surprising that the decision was made at a moment when the country was entering the stage of decisive cooperation of agriculture. Quite on purpose in the beginning of 1949/1950 academic year, a degree programme "Agricultural Machinery"was introduced to the Sofia State Polytechnical University, and the following year a Department with the same name was established. And since very soon it became clear that the engineers trained there would not satisfy the demand created by the significant transformations in agriculture, in 1953-1954 a Faculty of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture with the Agricultural Academy "Georgi Dimitrov" was established in Ruse. With a Decree 270/ 25. ІХ. 1954  of the People's Assembly Presidium the Faculty was transformed into an Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture in Ruse.

It is quite probable that the opening of this specific higher education institute was influenced by the  existing facilities of "Georgi Dimitrov" Plant for Agricultural Machinery, Obraztsov Chiflik Trial Station, the Machine park and the State Agricultural Cooperative.

The Ministry of Culture was authorised to implement the Decree. It was decided that students in the degree programme "Agricultural Machine-building" from the State Polytechnical University should be transferred to the newly established higher school in Ruse.

On 7 October 1954 the first meeting of the Academic Council of the Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture  was held.

At the meeting only issues of staff were discussed: attracting part-time lecturers; selecting full-time lecturers and promotions. The number of part-time lecturers was quite large but it was only natural, since the new higher school was in the process of being established. Specialist practitioners - engineers from "Georgi Dimitrov"plant and "Dimitar Blagoev" factory, agronomists from the Obraztsov Chiflik Trial Station, the Machine park and the State Agricultural Cooperative were selected. Besides, professors and lecturers from the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Institute in Sofia, the Forestry Faculty and the Varna Polytechnical University were also attracted as full-time or part-time lecturers. One name deserves mentioning - that of Professor Karl Slavomirov from the Forestry Faculty in Sofia, former Rector of the Ruse Higher Technical School, who was responsible for the subject "Thermodynamics and Thermotechnics".

Some of the highlights for the Ruse Higher Institute by the end of the 1950ies are:
  1. On 15 January 1955 the Council of Ministers decides to start in Ruse a two-year course for preparing specialists for the agriculture. This means that the facilities and the staff of the new  higher institute were considered acceptable;
  2. In 1956 the first class of 26 engineers in mechanisation of agriculture graduated;
  3. The range of degree programmes in the Higher Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture  expanded after the Council of Ministers issued a Decree № 208 of 18 September 1959 for the opening of two new degree programmes “Internal Combustion Engines” and “Machinebuilding and metal technology”. Thus in the four degree programmes there were 945 students and the lecturers numbered 93.

Foreign specialists from the Timiryazev Academy, the Moscow Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture and others were invited as guest lecturers. Prominent lecturers such as Academician Boltinskij and orrespondent members Nazarov and Prishtep, the professors Gutyar, Vlassov, Nekrasov, Konkin, assoc. professor Aleksey Iwanovich Timofeev and others read courses of lectures.

At the end of June 1963 the management of the Higher Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture became aware that the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party discussed the issue of reorganisation of the Institute into a Complex Agricultural Institute, with the Rector assoc. prof. Atanas Ganev supporting the idea.

Six out of the eight members of the Academic Council wrote "A Statement of the Academic Council of the Higher Institute of Mechanization and  Electrification of Agriculture  - Ruse", which was sent to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party  and the Council of Ministers. In it arguments were presented for continuing along the lines of establishing new degree programmes and expanding the facilities since there was a strong demand for engineers and establishing of new mechanical and electrical engineering institutes. In other words it would not be viable to transfer facilities to Varna​.​

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