Courses started in 1933 under the leadership of Ramón Menéndez Pidal (and Blas Cabrera from 1934 to 1936) as Rector of the University and Pedro Salinas as Secretary General. The International University developed an intense academic and cultural activity that brought together the foremost intellectuals of that time. Spanish figures such as Ortega and Gasset, Miguel de Unamuno, Américo Castro, Gerardo Diego, José María de Cossio, Jorge Guillén, Xavier Zubiri and Jiménez Díaz, were joined by prominent foreign intellectuals as important as Huizinga, Pierre Guinard, Marcel Bataillon, Karl Volssler, Harold Laski, Hugo Obermaier, and Nobel Prize winners such as Schrödinger, Haber and Willstätter. The academic activity was combined with art displays such as classical theater plays conducted by García Lorca’s traveling theater company “La Barraca”.
After the disruption created by the Civil War, classes resumed in 1947. During the interim period, the University adopted its current name, Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. Despite the difficult circumstances of that time, the institution recovered its open spirit and the intellectual relevance inherited from the previous period. The consecutive presidencies of Ciriaco Pérez Bustamante (1947-68), Florentino Pérez Embid (1968-74), Francisco Ynduráin (1974-80), Raúl Morodo (1980-83), Santiago Roldán (1983-89), Ernest Lluch (1989-1995), José Luis García Delgado (1995-2004) and since February 2005 Luciano Parejo, have kept alive the native will that still distinguishes the University from other institutions that, following the UIMP’s image, have thrived in the Spanish University system. Seventy years after its foundation, the UIMP is still a benchmark in the Spanish educational arena.
The Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo is an Autonomous Organization of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. Its bylaws define it as a “university center of high culture.” It is a meeting point for students from all the Spanish university districts, teachers with different nationalities and academic status, and associate, undergraduate and graduate students from around the world. Professionals from different fields are also part of the University life through its programs of continuing education.
The Spanish language and culture courses for foreigners play a key role in the University programs and activities. Each year, more than a thousand foreign students benefit from courses that enjoy a lasting tradition, great prestige and worldwide renown. The UIMP’s activities are primarily carried out at Las Llamas Campus. Since the year 2000, this campus has provided all-year-around academic activities.
Seventy years after its foundation, the UIMP was qualified to offer official graduate education by the 2001 Universities Organic Law. Today, the institution faces the challenge of widening its academic activities endorsed by its extensive and outstanding history.