Volume 31, No.4 - Winter 1985
Editor of this issue: Antanas V. Dundzila
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1985 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


An Historical Analysis

Ph.D. University of Colorado

The aftermath of World War II brought a systematic process of Sovietization to those Central Eastern European countries annexed by the Soviet Union. In the 40 years since that war, these countries have experienced radical reforms in all social systems including their educational systems. The Western world, however, knows relatively little of these countries' educational heritages, Soviet procedures used in transforming their educational systems, and the current status of these educational systems.

In view of this hiatus in the study of comparative education, this paper presents an historical review and analysis of higher education in the Central Eastern European country of Lithuania. The purposes of this review are threefold: (1) to describe the development of Lithuanian higher education, (2) to describe its reformation under Soviet rule, and (3) to examine the thesis that "universities develop as part of their national environments as well as participants in an international academic subculture" (Altbach, 1973, p. 11). The review begins with a short description of the country; outlines the development of its higher education system from 1579 to the late 1970's; and concludes with a discussion of Altbach's thesis.


Lithuania is a small country on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, situated approximately on the border between Eastern and Western Europe. It is bounded on the north by Latvia; to the east and south by Byelorussia and Poland; and to the southwest (since World War II) by Soviets who colonized the pre-World War II German East Prussia. In contrast to most of its neighbors, Lithuania is not a Slavic country. Rather, Lithuanians are Baits who speak one of the oldest surviving Indoeuropean languages. The country originated in the 12th century when separate Lithuanian tribes inhabiting the Baltic coast united under one ruler, forming a Christian monarchy. Late in the fourteenth century, Lithuania's territory expanded from the Baltic to the Black Seas, making it one of the most powerful nations in Europe and a buffer state between the civilizations of Western Europe and Asia. Its subsequent history is multinational, including federal union with Poland during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Czarist control from 1875 to 1915, and several short periods of German occupation during World Wars I and II.

The multinational history of the country stems largely from its geographical vulnerability, a characteristic found socially significant by several geographers and historians. Jean Gottman (the geographer), for example, calls the Baltic states the "tidal lands":

"The East Central European powers have worked out for themselves an indisputable personality which often benefited by the many contrasts it had with a diversity of neighbors. The personality was so linked some of the surrounding areas that many times it attempted to dominate them, while a power that developed in any part of Europe and expanded over the continent was bound to find the central section in its way. It thus happened that throughout history East Central Europe was a land of ebb and flow; it has been the most unstable part of the continent, and therefore should be defined as the area between those parts endowed with more stability" (Roucek and Lottich, 1964, p. 179).

In their analysis of this multinationality, Roucek and Lottich (1964) note the significance of this geographic characteristic, tracing it to antiquity:

"The phrase..." ('the Baltic Question') — an item of history — has been in existence for several millennia, and the problem which it suggests an issue among the empires of Europe for an even longer duration... the Baltic Question is not solely a national question... it is international... Specifically the Baltic Question refers rather to the role which the eastern Baltic regions play in world affairs. It reflects the influence which this area exercised upon the development of the surrounding great powers... During four thousand years of historical knowledge, the Baltic provinces have been equaled in importance by but few regions: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Sicily, the Rhine Valley and perhaps two or three others — all of them at the junction of great communication lines between East and West or between North and South" (p. 170).

Lithuania's unique geographical location placed critical demands on its peoples, most notably that recurrently they were pressed either to establish a national identity or to perish. Maldeikis (1957) viewed this pressure as impacting the strength of nationalism in Lithuania and its educational institutions:

"The Lithuanian people understood that, since their country was comparatively small and was surrounded on three sides by powerful neighbors, it could survive only by intensively increasing its cultural progress and strengthening its national consciousness. Therefore, the Lithuanian educational system, too, was firmly established on the principle of creating a strong cultural community that would assimilate the whole of Western culture, join in its progress and make a valuable contribution to it with its own national values" (p. 22).

Thus, despite frequent political and geographic turbulence, the nationalist struggles for independence periodically were successful and most recently Lithuania was reestablished as an independent democratic state in 1918. During its years of independence, the free Lithuanian state encompassed 21,500 square miles and a population of 2,879,000, most of which was of the Roman Catholic religion (Vardys, 1965, p. 21). Socially and economically, Lithuania was a progressive country, rebuilding its social institutions, forming an economic structure based on dairy and livestock production, and compensating for obsolescence resulting from past oppressions. Politically, its government was democratic. In foreign policy, Lithuania was nationalistic like other old European nations who regained independence in modern times. Its freedom, however, ended with the beginning of World War II when "mutual assistance" pacts were imposed upon the three Baltic states by the Soviets. The period that followed (1940-52) has been termed one of the most severe in Lithuania's history. It was one of resistance, first, against the Soviets (1940-41), then against the Nazis (1942-44), and then again against reestablished Soviet rule (1944-52). Lithuania's incorporation into the Soviet Union as a Soviet Socialist Republic was not universally recognized* and was followed by almost a decade (1944-52) of organized partisan resistance within the country. Currently, the Soviet regime is firmly established in the Lithuanian republic.


Despite its turbulent history, Lithuania has a long tradition of higher education, its educational institutions exhibiting sensitivity and responsiveness to different periods of the country's political and cultural life.

In Lithuania, as in many other European countries, the first formal school was a cathedral school in Vilnius (1397). The first secondary school evolved from this cathedral school when its curriculum was expanded to include rhetoric, dialectic and music to prepare candidates for theological studies at the Academy of Cracow. To prepare students for Western European universities, another secondary school was established in Vilnius in 1539 which specialized in Latin, Greek, and classical literature. Because of the established practice of obtaining higher education abroad, such a school was in great demand. Although the University of Cracow was designated for Lithuanian nobility, it was unpopular and attended only by those wishing to pursue theological studies (Račkauskas, 1976, p. 18), the most popular universities abroad being those at Leipzig, Wittenberg, Heidelberg, and Leiden.

The Reformation emanating from Western Europe and religious conflicts in the 16th Century led to establishment of new schools by religious advocates and religious orders. Among these, a predominant role was played by Jesuits who established a five-class college in Vilnius in 1569. In 1579, King Batory of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania (in consort with Pope Gregory XII) chartered this school as a university. The Jesuit curriculum (Ratio Studiorum) strongly focused on humanistic studies with emphasis on language, literature, and philosophy. The introductory curriculum (scholae inferioris) consisted of five classes. The advanced curriculum (scholae superiores) focused on studies in philosophy and theology in which bachelor, licentiate and doctoral degrees could be obtained. In 1641, faculties of law and medicine were added. All courses were conducted in Latin and required three to five years of study. The academy was directed by a rector, a Jesuit appointed by the vicar general of the order, who reported to the provincial of the Lithuanian Jesuits. The rector was assisted by the university chancellor and the administration of the lower classes was the province of the prefect of lower studies. In 1579, the university had 500 students; by 1618, the enrollment had risen to over 1200 students (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, pp. 551-552).

The early history of the University of Vilnius thus parallels the cathedral school origins and general characteristics of medieval Western European universities including:

(1) a basic faculty, an arts faculty, and a higher faculty such as theology; (2) a classical curriculum emphasizing logic, grammar and rhetoric (the "trivium" of the seven liberal arts); (3) the conferred license of "ius ubique docendi" (the "exclusive right to teach everywhere" which had become a hallmark of the university by the 13th century); (4) an organizational structure consisting of faculties, deans, chancellors and rectors; (5) a course of study with exams and degrees; and (6) approximately a four-year sequence (Pfnister, 1979).

The University of Vilnius was one of the oldest universities in Europe and the first institution of higher education in Lithuania. It became an important center of scholarly and cultural activity, and was the most important and widely recognized educational center for all Central Eastern Europe until mid-seventeenth century (Sruogienė-Sruoga, 1954, p. 7). In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, however, Lithuania experienced a Russian invasion followed by a Swedish invasion, both of which led to diminution of the University's importance and influence (Sruogienė-Sruoga, 1954, p. 8). It was only in the last years of the 18th Century that the country attempted to reestablish its educational institutions. The reestablishment of the University of Vilnius, however, closely coincided with abolition of the Jesuit order, perhaps the first of a series of significant social-political forces influencing the structure and function of Lithuanian higher education.


Dissolution of the Jesuit Order

In 1773, Pope Clement XIV abolished the Jesuit order, closing all Jesuit schools in Lithuania including the University of Vilnius. To administer these and other schools, a National Education Commission was established to reform education in both Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This Commission evolved an hierarchical and centralized system of education, establishing public and private elementary schools, middle or district schools, and chief schools. In reorganizing the educational systems of both countries, Polish Commission members proposed making the University a secondary school, arguing that the Cracow Academy served higher education needs of both countries. The Vice-Chancellor of Lithuania, however, rejected this proposal and the University was reorganized as the Principal School of Lithuania in 1781 with the professoriate continuing to be primarily Jesuit (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, p. 553).

Czarist Rule

In 1795 the viability of the University again was threatened when Austria, Russia and Prussia divided the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. Two years later, the University received a new statute and another new name, the Principal School of Vilnius. In 1803, the Czar converted the Principal School into a university, the Imperial University of Vilnius, which was assigned broader rights and functions, including three tasks: (a) scientific research, (b) preparation of curricula and teachers, and (c) supervision of the educational system (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, p. 554).

During its first decade, the Imperial University of Vilnius became the leading university in Central Eastern Europe with traditions older than those of the University of Tartu in Estonia (1632), University of Turku in Finland (1640) and Russia's first University in Moscow (1695) (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, p. 554). Its academic standards reached a level of the great universities of Western Europe and a number of professors at the University were internationally renowned (Sruogienė-Sruoga, 1954, p. 8). The Imperial University of Vilnius prepared a number of specialists and contributed to enhancing the general cultural level of the country. The University also contributed to the denationalization of Lithuanians, however, by continuing the policy of Polonization initiated by the Education Commission. By 1816 most lectures were in Polish although dissertations were written in Latin. The Lithuanian language was taught neither at the University nor at any other school. These oppressions were tolerated poorly by Lithuanians and the national and liberal movement which spread through Western Europe after the Napoleonic Wars was received favorably in Vilnius. The University became the home of subversive student societies whose political aim was restoration of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and a student insurrection occurred in 1831. After this unsuccessful insurrection, Czar Nicholas I closed the University and Lithuania remained without a single institution of higher education for nearly a century.

During the first Russian Revolution (1905), Lithuanians' demands for autonomy led to increased leniency by the Russian administration, permitting operation of Lithuanian cultural organizations and private schools. To establish and support these schools several educational societies were organized, the most important of which was the Lithuanian Society for Learning founded in Vilnius in 1907. This Society was concerned with scholarly research in Lithuanian subjects and consisted of the majority of the nation's scholars, writers, artists, musicians and educators. It functioned until 1941, compensating for major deficits in Lithuanian education during the country's pre-independence period and during early years of its independence.

World War I and Independence

In 1915, the Russians were forced to leave Lithuania and thereafter the country was occupied by Germans who dominated the educational system. During this period, the nationalist movement persisted and was encouraged by Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. In 1918, after a series of struggles with Poland, Russia and Germany, Lithuania proclaimed its independence, although this proclamation was followed by several years of continuing battles with the Russians and territorial struggles with Poland. In 1920, a peace treaty between Lithuania and Soviet Russia was signed. In this treaty Soviet Russia recognized Lithuania as a sovereign and independent state and renounced all claims to Lithuania's territory. Later in 1920, under the auspices of the League of Nations, Lithuania and Poland signed an armistice agreement demarcating the border between the two countries.

After World War I, the new Lithuanian government attempted to reestablish the total educational system and to reopen the ancient University of Vilnius which had been suppressed since 1832. Vilnius, however, remained occupied by the Poles who had reopened the institution in 1919 (renaming it Stephen Batory University) but denied reopening the Department of Lithuanian (Kubilius, et al., 1979). It was only in 1940 with the return of Vilnius to Lithuanian territory that the University of Vilnius reverted to the Lithuanians.

In the meantime, the Lithuanian government opened a university in its temporary capital of Kaunas.

The university in Kaunas grew out of the Courses of Higher Learning instituted in 1920 as a temporary substitute for a university. It opened formally on February 16, 1922, commemorating the fourth anniversary of Lithuanian independence and was named the University of Lithuania, although it functioned under several names.** During its first year of operation the University was staffed by 50 faculty and enrolled 522 students, many of whom had begun studies at Russian universities during World War I (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, p. 154). The curriculum initially resembled that of Russian Imperial universities with emphasis on basic and applied sciences such as physics, chemistry, and medicine (Kubilius et al., 1979). Gradually, however, the curriculum reverted to a Western European model, emphasizing liberal education as well as professional preparation.

The University of Lithuania, or Kaunas University, grew rapidly. Faculty were selected from Lithuanian scientists dispersed around the world and foreign faculty were invited to aid the developing institution. Within a short period, the University had accomplished several significant tasks: creation of a scientific Lithuanian terminology; publication of Lithuanian textbooks; and establishment of relationships with international organizations (Kolupaila, 1955, p. 14). During 1922-1940, the University graduated 3,800 students, three-fourths of whom were physicians, dentists, lawyers, economists and teachers (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. V, p. 548). Thus, until 1940, Kaunas University was the largest higher education enterprise in Lithuania. As a foremost center of learning and research, the University attracted a majority of Lithuanian scientists who contributed to the cultural and social progress of the nation. Especially great strides were made in nationalistic studies, i.e., Lithuanian language, folklore, literature, and history. These developments, however, were curtailed by World War II.

World War II

During World War II, the Lithuanian educational system was devastated once again. Late in 1939, Vilnius was taken from Poland by Soviet armed forces and returned to Lithuania only to have the entire country occupied by the Soviets in June of 1940. Soon thereafter, Lithuania experienced radical political, cultural and social changes and the entire educational system was restructured in accordance with the Soviet pattern. Formal educational reorganization began during the 1940-41 period of Soviet rule, but was interrupted by the intervening German occupation. In 1944, Sovietization recurred and Lithuania's educational systems was incorporated into the highly centralized Soviet system directed from Moscow. Humanities were neglected in favor of technical training and all education associated with religion, patriotism, and democracy was eliminated. Faculties were transferred from Kaunas University to the University of Vilnius. At Kaunas University the theology-philosophy faculty was closed, the rector replaced, and about 20 professors dismissed. Many others were arrested and deported and approximately one-half of all academic personnel emigrated to the West in 1944 (Kolupaila, 1955, p. 14). The remaining faculty and curricula were required to make modifications appropriate to the needs of a developing socialist system. A Marx-Lenin chair was established, instruction in the Russian language intensified, and relationships with Western institutions of higher education were severed. Kaunas University reopened in 1944, but was closed in 1949 by a directive from Moscow. The Soviets were opposed particularly to teaching Lithuanian literature and history and these disciplines were transferred to Vilnius. The basic sciences, less vital to nationalism, were concentrated in Kaunas where the University was reorganized into polytechnical and medical institutes in 1950 (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vo. V, p. 550).

Sovietized Lithuanian Higher Education

The Soviet view of the educational system as a political instrument resulted in a greater degree of government control over higher education than Lithuania previously had experienced. In the framework of Soviet goals, institutions of higher education acquired an indispensable instrumental function. Characteristic of the Soviet system of higher education has been a combination of ideological indoctrination, specialized professional training (unlike the liberal arts system in the West), and a system of enrollment quotas in each field to meet specific industrial and scientific manpower requirements (Rosen, 1971, p. 81). A concurrent commitment to decreasing elitism and increasing democratization in higher education also is a pronounced characteristic (Burn, 1971, p. 288.

These characteristics were conspicuously foreign to Lithuanian higher education and Soviet attempts to reorganize the Lithuanian system were implemented systematically. As described by Procuta (1967), extensive reforms of faculty, curricula and teaching materials occurred first. Many Lithuanian faculty were dismissed and replaced by Soviets. Curricula were revised, eliminating Latin, social studies, religion and philosophy. Lithuanian textbooks were replaced with Soviet texts translated into Lithuanian. Second, for remaining Lithuanian faculty, intensive reeducation programs were instituted to facilitate working knowledge of Marxist-Leninism and its application to their respective disciplines. This step was considered especially important since new academic requirements mandated courses in Marxism-Leninism, dialectical-historical materialism, political economy, and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. To accomplish the latter task, numerous "social science specialists" were sent to Lithuania. The task proceeded slowly, however, compounded by the language barrier and the scarcity of Marxist-Leninist literature in the Lithuanian language.

A third measure called "improvement of the social composition of the student body" also was utilized in the process of converting the Lithuanian educational system. This measure encompassed: (1) an accelerated secondary school program for "workers and peasants" at the institutions in Kaunas and Vilnius in order to prepare these populations for entry into higher education and (2) an admission screening system that investigated and monitored social and political activities of applicants and their families, selecting ideologically compatible applicants (Procuta, 1967, pp. 72-76). As Bendžius (1960) stated:

"The major task of the admissions commission was to select suitable candidates for the skilled cadres building socialism, to see that socially and politically alien elements would not enter higher education. It must be noted that there was a considerable attempt of the ideologically alien sector to enter the Soviet higher education system and the admissions commissions had to reject a part of the applicants for social class and political motives" (p. 73).

Last structural changes were implemented. Not only were all Lithuanian institutions of higher education reorganized under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education of the U.S.S.R., but intrauniversity changes also were mandated. Old departments were closed (history, theology, philosophy) and new departments established (departments of Marxism-Leninism). By the early 1950's, Lithuanian institutions of higher education structurally resembled the Soviet model of a university. As indicated, Kaunas University was reorganized into a polytechnical institute which subsequently developed into the largest institution of higher learning in Lithuania. The University of Vilnius remained the only university in Lithuania*** and was renamed in 1955 after a Lithuanian Communist leader as the Vincas Kapsukas State University of Vilnius. During 1970-1975, it graduated 10,000 students and consisted of 1200 faculty members and thirteen faculties (Four Centuries of Vilnius University, 1979). In 1978, the university enrolled 16,500 students (Kubilius et. al., 1979, p. 268) and it celebrated its 400th anniversary in 1979.

In spite of vast structural and ideological changes, however, higher education in Lithuania is not considered to be completely Sovietized. Procuta's assessment of the extent to which Lithuanian higher education was Sovietized by 1967 concluded that changes were superficial:

"Despite structural changes and ideological work, they (Lithuanian higher education institutions) had not acquired the Soviet ethos. The core of academic personnel... were former senior members of Lithuanian universities... the acute shortage of specialists forced the regime to tolerate the objective-nonpartisan attitudes of the old specialists, so long as they did not openly attack the Soviet system (p. 90)... Contemporary existence of a 'nationalistic egoism'... may also be an indication that the substantive transformation has not been successful" (p. 92).

Others (Vardys, 1965) corroborated this assessment, noting that nationalism has remained strong after World War II and "is still regarded as the main obstacle to 'the drawing closer of socialist nations' " (p.249). Vardys also noted that Lithuanian schools have remained nationalistic institutions rejecting Sovietization and emulating Western ideals. That this state of affairs exists is not surprising and relates to Albach's thesis regarding the inextricable relationships among higher education, its national environment, and the international academic culture. Because of these relationships, Soviet attempts to use higher education as a political instrument continue to be somewhat problematic, as explained by Procuta (1967):

"...Higher education, as any other social institution, to a large extent reflects the values and attitudes of its society. Until Soviet ethos becomes genuinely widespread in Lithuanian society, social transformation from above is going to remain a long and arduous process. Furthermore, the institution of higher education by its very nature is a reflective and critical body, and it may be actually more resistant to Soviet ethos than other social institutions" (p. 92).


In concluding this historical review of Lithuanian higher education, several analytic observations regarding its relationship to its national environment as well as to the worldwide academic culture can be advanced.

Clearly, the development of higher education in Lithuania has been linked indissolubly with national social-political forces affecting the country. Each political occupation reformed the structure and function of higher education and during intermittent periods of independence Lithuania repeatedly faced the task of reestablishing an educational system consonant with national goals and values, Maldeikis (1956) stated that each occupation was a disaster to the country not only because it suppressed Lithuania's political independence but, more significantly, because each suppressed the country's cultural development:

"One power after another seized the country, and immediately tried to colonize her, denationalize the Lithuanians, and destroy her national culture... (all) attacked the normal evolution of Lithuania's culture and tried to incorporate their educational systems, which were designed to prevent the Lithuanians from becoming educated, suppress their nationalistic feelings, falsify their history, and raise a generation more sympathetic to their views. With each occupation, the fight against the occupants became a fight to retain her own culture" (p. 11).

In essence, Lithuanian higher education developed as part of a dual "national" environment: that of its political environment and that of its independent ideal. As a result, a singularly significant issue in Lithuanian higher education has been preservation and transmission of its independent national heritage, despite the need to respond concurrently to its political environment. Thus, Albach's thesis that higher education develops as part of its national environment can be supported in this analysis.

That Lithuanian higher education participated historically in the world-wide academic culture also is supportable. The system was modelled after Western Europe universities with commonalities in heritage including cathedral school origins; accentuation of territorial sovereignty (ecclesiastical and political); focus on classical curricula; and the preeminence of theological faculty. Further, its historical tradition of collaborative relationships with Western higher education and its continual quest for autonomy lend strength to its participation in the international academic culture.

The thesis that contemporary Lithuanian higher education is part of international academics, however, is debatable. Although the Sovietized educational system continues scientific, technical and educational exchanges with countries such as the United States, Great Britain and France, these exchanges have been assessed to be of limited value to academic relations. Scully (1979), for example, stated:

"More than 20 years of formal scientific and scholarly exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union have resulted in improved mutual understanding and major contribution to the academic disciplines in both countries. But they have not yet removed vast differences in the perceptions of each country's scholars, nor have they produced anything approaching the free flow of ideas that many scholars believe should mark international academic relationships" (p. 5).

Suchodolski (1971) confirmed the Soviet system's insularity. Soviet higher education, he maintained, has parted with the universities of the world because the character of the university has been modified so extensively. Modifications instrumental in this separatism include: (1) equalization of status between the university and other educational institutions such as the polytechnics; (2) redefinition of primary goals of universities from intellectual centers to professional preparation centers; and (3) deprivation of autonomy and academic freedom.

Altbach (1973) corroborated that Soviet higher education participates minimally in the universal academic culture by making the following observations:

"The Soviet Union...provides a somewhat unique academic model that is basically in the shape of the research institutes set up on a wide scale...The Soviets have made an effort to divorce pure and applied research from the usual teaching processes of the universities and this marks an innovation in the organization of higher education...Soviet authorities (also) pay very close attention to the control of potentially dissident elements within the university, and there is substantially more control and supervision by government over higher education than in most other countries" (p. 13).

Thus, Central Eastern European universities absorbed into the Soviet system, such as the universities of Vilnius and Kaunas, appear to have become predominantly oriented to the goals of a new political regime. This regime has modified the traditional model of a university into a model adjusted to new social conditions and tasks, and seems to have rendered higher education more responsive to its political environment than to the ancient, universal, academic culture. Despite this apparent insularity, however, some spirit of the universal academic culture seems to survive. The free press, for example, often prints news of Soviet intellectuals, scholars, writers and artists seeking contact with the West and selective educational exchanges continue. This semblance of participation in international academics has been documented frequently and prompted Rosen (1971) to conclude that:

"The vanguard of a new generation in the U.S.S.R. questions old values and predigested | truths | and, in small groups within and outside university walls, seeks objective truth and Western contact...This search may be the beginning of the most important of the movements in the U.S.S.R...toward modernization, unplanned by the central government, the painfully slow, halting, but persistent pressure for the liberation of the human mind and spirit" (p. 96)


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* A statement of American policy toward the Baltic countries by the late secretary of State John Foster Dulles reflects the attitude of the United States regarding the captivity of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: "The United States, for its part, maintains the diplomatic recognition it extended in 1922 to the Baltic nations. We continue to deal with those diplomatic and consular representatives of the Baltic countries who served the last independent governments of these States... the captive people should know that they are not forgotten, that we are not reconciled to their fate and, above all, that we are not prepared to seek illusory safety for ourselves by a bargain with their masters..." (as quoted in Roucek and Lottich, p. 183). All recent presidents of the United States have reaffirmed this non-recognition policy annually.
* * In 1930, the 500th anniversary of the death of Vytautas the Great, it was renamed after this famous ruler of Lithuania and during the second Soviet occupation it operated as Kaunas State University. The University was closed in 1950 when separate Polytechnical and Medical Institutes were established (Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. 5, p. 545).
*** The university remained not only the oldest higher education institution in the Soviet Union but also remained one of 50 universities in the U.S.S.R. Of 800 institutions of higher learning in the U.S.S.R. only a handful are universities and these account for about 10-15% of total enrollments (Rosen, 1971, p. 89)