The Babeș-Bolyai University is today the oldest, the largest and, in many ways, the most prestigious university in Romania. The institution has clear history which falls under the Renaissance period and was born under the distinct sign of multiculturalism: a Hungarian prince of Transylvania, Ștefan Báthory, made in the meantime the king of Poland (actually, of the union between Poland and Lithuania), at the insistence of the Italian Jesuit Father Antonio Possevino, Báthory was issuing in Vilnius (the capital city of today’s Lithuania), in 1581, the act of establishing the Major College in Cluj (having a superior standard, equal to universities in Germany, France and Italy); the first rector was Polish, the teachers were Italians, Polish, Hungarians and Germans, the students were to be of different confessions and ethnicity; it was meant to be one of the students the Romanian orthodox Prince Nicolae Pătrașcu, the son and the heir of the great prince and Sir Mihai Viteazul. Over time, the lessons were taught at this University in Latin, Hungarian, German and – after the First World War – in English or in international languages. The nationalist errors and exaggerations that occurred during the modern and contemporary age, oscillations between acceptance and exclusion or between actual and formal tolerance, encountered everywhere in the world, have not avoided our institution, but it always restated – even in hostile times – the vocation of “healing mother” ( alma mater napocensis ) for all those reunited under the sign of learning and education ( litteris et virtues ).
The universities have become everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe, in the modern era in particular, the promoters of the ideas of national emancipation and construction of national buildings. They were institutions which, through the intellectual power which they represented, have outlined the evolution of the nations and the states. This role has not ceased even today, because the languages, confessions, traditions and cultures of the various nations and ethnic groups are part of the humanity’s assets and are entitled to be protected and promoted, each in its specific way, with an important amendment: the distinguished character of each group must be stated and protected through dialog with other groups, through knowledge and mutual praise, through real and beneficial to all meddling.
The institutional history of UBB synthesizes the cultural, scientific and denominational tradition in Transylvania – where it was stated for the first time in Europe, since the XVIth century, the principle of religious tolerance, which created the necessary conditions for the institution to develop a multicultural and multilingual education program suited both for the legislation in Romania, as well as for the European regulations and values. By adopting as the main way of operation and development the multiculturalism, the Babeş-Bolyai University responds equally to the need to continue the tradition and the ideals of building an united Europe.