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The highest institution of learning in Peru, located at Lima, under the official name of Universidad Mayor de San Marcos . It is reputed as being the oldest university in the New World having been created by a royal decree of 12 May, 1551, wherein Charles V granted 350 gold dollars to the priors of the Dominican order to establish in Lima an Estudio General , and conferred upon it all the prerogatives enjoyed by the University of Salamanca. This decree was confirmed by a Bull of Pope Pius V , dated 25 July, 1571. Until 30 December of the same year, the school remained under the control of the Dominican fathers, when it became independent with the right to choose its own rector. The first one elected was Dr. Gaspar de Meneses, a layman. In 1574, after a new site had been purchased at a cost of 600 gold dollars, the name Saint Mark was chosen by lot for the institution. Thenceforward, the university acquired a greater importance, and two years later a new plan of studies adequate to the times, was adopted, with the following classes: two of Spanish grammar; one of native languages, which were then considered necessary for the propagation of the Gospel; three of theology ; three of jurisprudence ; two of canon law, and two of medicine. The number of students who came to Lima to follow the courses of the university increased rapidly and at one time reached 1200. As the cost of graduation was exceedingly high (about $10,000), instruction in Saint Mark, as in other colonial universities of the times, was confined to the aristocratic and wealthy classes, among which there prevailed an intense fondness for literary pursuits. These fees have been gradually reduced and the total now amounts to 50 soles ($25) for the degree of Bachelor, and 100 ($50) for that of Doctor.

The popularity of the institution continued until the time when Peru became independent (1825) and then followed a short period of inactivity, after which the university was reorganized by President Ramon Castilla (28 Aug., 1861). From the year of its autonomy, the university has been directed by a council composed of the rector as its chairman, a vice-rector, the dean and a delegate from each faculty, and the secretary of the University. The rector is elected by the professors with the approval and consent of the council, and each faculty chooses its own dean, regulates its course of studies, and issues its respective degrees. As at present constituted, Saint Mark consists of six faculties. Jurisprudence confers the degree of Doctor of Laws, with a course of five years comprising the following subjects: philosophy of law, civil law , criminal law, ecclesiastical law, mercantile law, mining and agricultural laws law procedure, Roman law, and forensic practice. Medicine grants the diploma of Bachelor of Medicine in five years, and the title of "physician and surgeon" after two additional years of hospital practice, the subjects covered being descriptive anatomy, medical physics, public, private and international hygiene, medical and analytical chemistry, natural and medical history, general anatomy and microscopic technique, pharmacy, physiology, pathology, clinics, bacteriology, therapeutics, materia medica, surgery, nosography, ophthalmology, operative medicine, gynaecology, pediatrics, obstetrics, legal medicine, etc.; this same faculty issues the titles of pharmacist, dentist, and obstetrician, with courses of studies covering three years. In theology the degree of Doctor is obtained after a six years' course in the subjects of dogmatic theology, moral theology, church history, liturgy and ecclesiastical calculation, sacred oratory, the Bible and pastoral theology. The faculty of sciences is divided into three separate sections: (1) mathematical sciences, (2) physics, and (3) natural sciences, the course in each of which comprises a period of three years. Before admission to the faculty of medicine, students are required to pass two years in natural sciences, and likewise, those desiring to enter the school of engineers (independent of the university ) must have studied mathematics two years. The faculty of letters confers the degree of Doctor, its course covering four years with these subjeots: philosophy, history of ancient and modern philosophy, æsthetics and history of art, Spanish literature, sociology, history of civilization, history of Peruvian civilization, and pedagogy; two years in this faculty are required for admission to that of jurisprudence. The faculty of administrative and political economy confers the degree of Doctor, and its course of three years includes the following studies: constitutional law ; public and private international law, administrative law, political economy and economical legislation of Peru ; maritime law, diplomacy, history of the treaties of Peru, consular legislation, finance, financial legislation of Peru, and statistics. The official organ of the university is the "Revista Universitaria", a monthly publication, which has since 1906 replaced the "Anales". At the present time the number of professors of the University of Saint Mark is 80.

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