History of Unicamp
In the early 1960s the Government of the State of São Paulo planned to open a new research center in the interior of the state to promote development and industrialization in the region, and commissioned Zeferino Vaz, founder of the University of São Paulo's School of Medicine in Ribeirão Preto, to organize it. In parallel, a medical school was being planned in Campinas, a demand from the local population that dated from the early 1940s. The School of Medicine of Campinas was created by law in 1959, but actual implementation never took place.
The new university was created by law on December 28, 1962, but effective functioning begun in 1966. Before that, only the School of Medicine functioned. In April 1963 the first vestibular, the general admissions exam, happened, with 1,592 candidates competing for 50 spots in the medicine program. The first lecture in the newly created University of Campinas took place on May 20 of the same year. By 1965, the organizing commission for the new university started looking for a location for a new campus.
A large area comprising 110 hectares (270 acres) was donated by the Almeida Prado family, located in a valley in the district of Barão Geraldo in the city of Campinas, near the intersections of multiple highways. Until then, Barão Geraldo was a small village surrounded by farmland, in particular sugar cane plantations. The new development brought dramatic change to the district, resulting in entire new neighborhoods being zoned, planned and built, usually by the same Almeida Prado family.
Work on the new campus begun on October 5, 1966, and the first building completed was the Institute of Biology, followed by administrative buildings. In the same year, Zeferino Vaz was nominated the rector. In parallel to the new campus, new units were opened in other cities, absorbing local schools. The Dental School of Piracicaba was absorbed in 1967, and in 1969 the Engineering School of Limeira.
1970–1990: Growth and crisis
Over the following two decades, the new university expanded rapidly. The campus quickly grew to 19 institutes and schools, and after Zeferino Vaz died in 1981 was named after him. With the campus construction completed, the School of Medical Sciences (formerly the School of Medicine of Campinas) was moved into the new campus, and its teaching hospital, Hospital de Clínicas, became the largest public hospital in the region.
Expansion on the campus continued rapidly, with new buildings, institutes and expansions being added nearly every year. But by the late 1970s, the university faced a crisis. During its fast expansion, it relied on draft bylaws, mostly borrowed from the University of São Paulo, and lacked formal internal regulations with the aging Zeferino Vaz, while no longer the rector, acting as a moderating force between parties with conflicting interests, in particular the leftist academic community and the State's government, appointed by the conservative military regime ruling the country.
After Zeferino's death in 1981, a conflict took place between the university's General Coordinator, appointed and backed by the government, and the Directive Council, composed of directors of the different institutes.The rector introduced new rules reducing the power of the General Coordinator. As retaliation, the State's government removed 6 members of the Directive Council, replacing them with people from the state's Education Council, loyal to the governor, Paulo Maluf.
Tensions between the academic community and the government-appointed counselors increased, with the future Minister of Education, Paulo Renato Costa Souza, then president of the Faculty Association, classifying the episode as a "white intervention". Following the dismissal of several institute heads and members of the administration, the administrative workers went on strike, with the support of students and faculty. With activities in the university frozen by the strike, the governor declared a formal intervention in the university in October 1981.
Despite the police-backed intervention, the university continued on strike. The appointed institute heads failed to break the stalemate between internal and external forces, and by early 1982, discussions begun on a new list of candidates to the rectorship. Eventually, José Aristodemo Pinotti, a former dean of the School of Medical Sciences generally considered a moderate, was selected by the academic community and accepted by the governor. In the following week, on April 19, 1982, the intervention was lifted, and academic activities resumed normally.
After the crisis, Unicamp saw a period of renewal and restructuring. In 1983 the bylaws were rewritten, ensuring the autonomy of the academic community, and the new management structure for the campus was implemented. In 1986 the newly created University Council replaces the previous Directive Council as the supreme body of the university. The last years of the 1980s saw a reformulation of the admissions exam, expansion of the laboratories and the completion of the first units of the student housing.
With a new administrative structure capable of supporting continuous growth and with its autonomy secured, Unicamp went through a period of consolidation in the 1990s. There was an increase in night programs, created to provide an alternative for low-income students who had to work during the day, and to increase utilization of classrooms and the existing infrastructure, reaching one third of total available places.
The period also saw an expansion of the technology industry in the region, centered around Unicamp, with Motorola, IBM, Solectron, Lucent Technologies and many others set up research labs and production centers in the region driven by the large number of highly qualified students graduating every year, culminating in the opening of the Institute of Computing in 1996.
In the 2000s Unicamp consolidated itself as one of the leading research and education centers in Latin America but also brought new challenges: just as with other public universities in Brazil, the high payroll costs (over 90% of the total budget) constrain investment and expansion. This is further aggravated by the economic depression that Brazil is facing since 2014, the largest in the country's history.