|Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas
Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) is one of the most modern universities in Lithuania, pursuing a liberal studies policy, as well as seeking and establishing successful international relations with other universities around the world. The University’s community plays an active part in processes of development and change at the institution. It is a dynamic university where tradition and innovation converge and complement each other. The University of Lithuania in Kaunas was founded on February 16, 1922 and remained open until 1950, when it was closed by the Soviet government. Today there are 9000 students enrolled and 550 teachers and researchers employed at the VMU. Well-known scientists and various prize-winning researchers teach at VMU. In 2006 Nijole Luksionyte-Tolvaisiene, Professor at the Institute of Fine Art, received the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Premium. Leonidas Donskis, Professor of Political Science Department, has been an IREX-International Research and Exchanges Board Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, USA.
The VMU consists of 10 faculties and schools: Humanities, Catholic Theology, Fine Arts, Economics and Management, Informatics, Law, Natural Sciences, Political Science and Diplomacy, Social Sciences, and Social Work. The university pays particular attention to building up its international network, and has more than 80 Socrates/Erasmus partners and more than 40 bilateral cooperation partners all over the world.
Kaunas is the second biggest city in Lithuania. It is situated in the centre of the country, at the confluence of the two rivers Neris and Nemunas. With nearly 400,000 inhabitants, Kaunas may be Lithuania’s second city in terms of population, but many argue that it is nevertheless the ‘most Lithuanian’ city in character. This might be because the country’s centuries-old cultural heritage is reflected in Kaunas’ many historical monuments, churches and theatres. In addition to this, the city dwellers proudly represent what they call ‘pure Lithuanian spirit’. The city enjoyed its first heyday at the beginning of the 20th century when it was turned into Lithuania’s elegant and culturally active interim capital. The spirit of this era was well preserved during the years of Soviet occupation and served as a symbolic example of national identity and pride before the country’s independence in 1990.
Although Kaunas boasts a charming old city with an impressive Town Hall, it is less famous, spends less on beautification, and isn’t quite as pretty as your usual picturesque tourist magnet. But it may be precisely these points - which some outsiders might regard as shortcomings - that make the city so attractive to about 35,000 students and an ever increasing number of visitors - people who all seem to appreciate the little oddities Kaunas has to offer.