Imperial Moscow University
The Principal Medicine Store building on Red Square that housed Moscow University from 1755 to 1787
Main buildings of the university in Mokhovaya Street, 1798
Ivan Shuvalov and Mikhail Lomonosov promoted the idea of a university in Moscow, and Russian Empress Elizabeth decreed its establishment on 23 January [O.S. 12 January] 1755.
The first lectures were given on 7 May [O.S. 26 April]. Russians still celebrate 25 January as Students' Day. (Foundation of the University is traditionally associated with the feast of Saint Tatiana, celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church on 12 January Julian, which corresponds to 25 January Gregorian in the 20th–21st centuries.)
Saint Petersburg State University and Moscow State University engage in friendly rivalry over the title of Russia's oldest university. Though Moscow State University was founded in 1755, its competitor in St. Petersburg has had a continuous existence as a "university" since 1819 and sees itself as the successor of an academy established on 24 January 1724, by a decree of Peter the Great.
The present Moscow State University originally occupied the Principal Medicine Store on Red Square from 1755 to 1787. Catherine the Great transferred the University to a Neoclassical building on the other side of Mokhovaya Street; that main building was constructed between 1782 and 1793 in the Neo-Palladian style, to a design by Matvei Kazakov, and rebuilt by Domenico Giliardi after the fire consumed much of Moscow in 1812.
In the 18th century, the University had three departments: philosophy, medicine, and law. A preparatory college was affiliated with the University until its abolition in 1812. In 1779, Mikhail Kheraskov founded a boarding school for noblemen (Благородный пансион) which in 1830 became a gymnasium for the Russian nobility. The university press, run by Nikolay Novikov in the 1780s, published the most popular newspaper in Imperial Russia: Moskovskie Vedomosti.
As of 2015 , the Old Building housed the Department of Oriental studies
In 1804, medical education split into clinical (therapy), surgical, and obstetrics faculties. During 1884–1897, the Department of Medicine—supported by private donations, and the municipal and imperial governments—built an extensive, 1.6-kilometer-long, state-of-the-art medical campus in Devichye Pole, between the Garden Ring and Novodevichy Convent; this had been designed by Konstantin Bykovsky, with university doctors like Nikolay Sklifosovskiy and Fyodor Erismann acting as consultants. The campus, and medical education in general, were separated from the Moscow University in 1930. Devichye Pole was operated by the independent I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and by various other state and private institutions.
The roots of student unrest in the University reach deep into the nineteenth century. In 1905, a social-democratic organization emerged at the University and called for the overthrow of the Czarist government and the establishment of a republic in Russia. The imperial government repeatedly threatened to close the University. In 1911, in a protest over the introduction of troops onto the campus and mistreatment of certain professors, 130 scientists and professors resigned en masse, including such prominent men as Nikolay Dimitrievich Zelinskiy, Pyotr Nikolaevich Lebedev, and Sergei Alekseevich Chaplygin; thousands of students were expelled.
Moscow State University
After the October Revolution of 1917, the institution began to admit the children of the proletariat and peasantry. In 1919, the University abolished fees for tuition and established a preparatory facility to help working-class children prepare for entrance examinations. During the implementation of Joseph Stalin's first five-year plan (1928–1932), prisoners from the Gulag were forced to construct parts of the newly expanded University.
The first Humanities Building
After 1991, nine new faculties were established. The following year, the University gained a unique status: it is funded directly from the state budget (bypassing the Ministry of Education), thus providing the University a significant level of independence.
On 6 September 1997, the French electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre, whom the mayor of Moscow had specially invited to perform, used the entire front facade of the University as the backdrop for a concert: the frontage served as a giant projection screen, with fireworks, lasers, and searchlights all launched from various points around the building. The stage stood directly in front of the building, and the concert, entitled "The Road To The 21st Century" in Russia but renamed "Oxygen In Moscow" for worldwide release in video/DVD, attracted a world-record crowd of 3.5 million people.
Students celebrating the 250th anniversary of the university in 2005
On 19 March 2008, Russia's most powerful supercomputer to date, the SKIF MSU (Russian: СКИФ МГУ; skif means "Scythian" in Russian) was launched at the University. Its peak performance of 60 TFLOPS (LINPACK - 47.170 TFLOPS) makes it the fastest supercomputer in the Commonwealth of Independent States.