With respect to the tradition of higher education in Trnava as well as in Slovakia and what was once Hungary, it should be emphasized that it was right in Trnava, where – after a brief existence of Academia Istropolitana in Bratislava – the first authentic and comprehensive university in Slovakia was founded. The university was founded in 1635 with just two faculties: the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Theology. In 1667, the Faculty of Law was added and the Faculty of Medicine was established in 1769. This was a genuine Studium generale in the very meaning of the word and Trnava had no reason to feel less valuable than other Central-European universities in Vienna, Prague, Olomouc, Krakow, Graz and Innsbruck. With its four faculties it created a broad institutional basis that earns respect even today: its library, archives, collections, offices, printing house meeting all European standards, theatre, pharmacy, botanical garden, astronomical observatory, dormitories, villa and farm in Biely Kostol (proudly named Albanum). All the university’s facilities, including the beautiful early baroque church – now the Archbishop’s Cathedral of Trnava Archdiocese – reach far beyond just a Slovak context and are respected even by occasional visitors to Trnava.
Based on a ruling by Maria Theresa the university was moved to Buda (in today’s Hungary) in 1777 but the Royal Academy of Law (offering a combined three-year study of philosophy and law) remained in Trnava. However, in 1784 it was moved to Bratislava. Trnava was left as if deserted. Nevertheless, shortly thereafter Anton Bernolák and Juraj Fándly founded the Slovak Guild of Scholars in Trnava and the town was returned to Slovak cultural history. Cardinal Peter Pazmáň, founder of the university, did not establish the Faculty of Law from the outset but he anticipated its existence in the future. This is shown by the wording of the Foundation Charter of 12 May 1635: “We were often contemplating in our minds (Saepe nobiscum anxie expedentes…) possible ways to spread the Catholic religion in the Hungarian
Kingdom and provide for the dignity of the noble Hungarian nation. We recognized the foundation of the university as a principal step among other auxiliary measures, since the university can cultivate minds of this combative nation, while at the same time, capable people can earn education needed for church management and for public administration (…quam Reipublicae administrandae informarentur).
The ancient Faculty of Law introduced four subjects: canon law, Roman law, Hungarian civil corporeal law and Hungarian procedural law, and in 1686 also Hungarian criminal law. We underline the study of Hungarian law since it was not quite common at other universities to focus on domestic law. The Faculty of Law in Trnava must be credited for publishing and commenting on Corpus Iuris Hungarici, a collection of Hungarian law. Needless to say, the contemporary Faculty of Law of Trnava University continues its old traditions and its spiritual legacy. Of course, its renewal was preceded by the reestablishment of the university. But once again, the same situation repeated itself as in the 17th century when Trnava University reopened without its law faculty. This happened based on the legislative proposal by a group of members of the Slovak Parliament on February 22, 1992, who recalled the tradition of Trnava University from 1635 – 1777. An explanatory note to this bill emphasized the need “to use this historical gem (i.e. Trnava University) of the Slovak nation for the revival of its spiritual freedom, culture and humanism”. Act No. 191/1992 Coll., establishing Trnava University with its seat in Trnava, reopened Trnava University, de jure, as of July 1, 1992, with only two faculties: the Faculty of Human Sciences to cultivate national Christian spiritual values in the tradition of European culture and democracy; and the Faculty of Education to instruct and educate teachers who would be able to educate young people in accordance with Christian spirit and morality. Over the next six years three other faculties were added: the Faculty of Health Care and Social Work (1994), the Faculty of Theology (1997), and last but not least, the Faculty of Law (1998).
The nineteen-year history of the faculty‘s life has been significantly influenced by its dynamic and permanent development. The efforts of the faculty’s employees have been proven mostlyin the fact that today the Faculty of Law belongs among the best faculties in Slovakia and has an excellent reputation abroad as well. The development process was not smooth as the faculty was often financially, substantially and physically undersized and it did not find much understanding with those who had an opportunity to support it. Despite this, the faculty’s management and its employees found ways and resources to build a high-quality institution which has continuously gained the informal respect of the public, including the expert public. The basis of its success was spurred by high motivation, good interpersonal relationships, and a friendly but at the same time demanding social-psychological atmosphere within the faculty. These signs of the faculty’s life also promise further on-going and successful development of the Faculty of Law. The improvements in the qualifications of faculty teachers and scientific employees as well as strengthening the professionalism of non-pedagogical workers are considered the crucial factors in the development of the faculty. The starting position of the qualifications of the faculty’s scientific-pedagogic team was very favourable. However, that did not set the faculty to rest and it managed to develop not only the habitation and inaugural activities but above all attract young and promising candidates for doctorate studies. The results of such effort have been even emphasised in its most recent years during which a young and promising generation of lawyers – teachers and scientists have won recognition. For accomplishing its demanding scientific and pedagogic tasks, material and space resources for the faculty are important. In the year of the faculty’s 10th anniversary (2008) the reconstruction of the Faculty of Law building at 10 Kollárova Street in Trnava was successfully completed and the faculty finally found stable working premises after ten years of provisional arrangements as well as patient understanding from its employees and students. Within the last five years indoor offices and the premises of faculty departments serving employees as well as students have been finalized. This also includes a cafeteria established to improve services and enhance the students’ and faculty employees’ opportunity to socialise. Also, relaxation zones were created for students and two computer rooms were established, while the faculty library is still being further equipped with computers and furniture but mostly with a collection of high-quality books.