From left: Vice-Rector Zbigniew Jaśkiewicz, Rector prof. dr Stanisław Matysik, Dean of the Maritime Department prof. Józef Kulikowski, October 6, 1960.
The Higher School of Economics was the first university in Tricity to receive the insignia of rector authority. In this respect, it overtook (by a few days) the Medical Academy in Gdańsk.
One of the predecessors of the University of Gdańsk was the Higher School of Economics (WSE) in Sopot, which began operations back in 1945, originally as the Higher School of Maritime Commerce (WSHM) in Gdynia.
It was the successor of the Maritime Institute, established in 1942 as part of the Secret University of the Western Territories, which operated under the German occupation in Warsaw. The organiser of the WSHM was doc. dr Władysław Kowalenko.
The beginnings of the school were extremely difficult - there was a lack of suitable premises, textbooks and teaching aids, as well as money for salaries. Thanks to the genuine enthusiasm of both students and staff, as well as the financial support provided by inż. Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, who after the war was the Government Delegate for Coastal Affairs (and at the same time a lecturer at the Academy), the situation slowly began to stabilise.
In 1947 WSHM was moved to Sopot, to a building at 101 Armii Czerwonej Street (today Armii Krajowej Street), and in 1951 it was renamed WSE.
From the very beginning, the emphasis of the University was on the training of personnel for the widely understood maritime economy of reborn Poland. It was in connection with the development of the Sopot-based university in the 1960s that the whole of Tricity was increasingly referred to as a maritime scientific metropolis.
The first insignia of power
On October 6, 1960, during the inauguration of the academic year at the Sopot School of Economics, Leonard Lazarowicz, chairman of the Social Foundation Committee and vice-chairman of the Presidium of the Voivodship National Council presented three members of the WSE Senate: the Rector, prof. dr Stanisław Matysik, Vice-Rector prof. Zbigniew Jaśkiewicz, and the Dean of the Maritime Department, prof. Józef Kulikowski, with insignia of rector and dean made in the Sopot metal workshop of Stanisław Nowakowski and Józef Bieluk.
It was undoubtedly an exceptional moment, as WSE was the first university on the Coast to receive this type of insignia. Only a few days later, on October 15, 1960, during the celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the Medical Academy in Gdańsk (AMG, today: the Medical University of Gdańsk) in the hall of the Great Theatre, the rector of the AMG, prof. Stanisław Manczarski received an amber chain with the national emblem, a ring and a sceptre designed for the Academy.
The insignia donated to WSE carried a symbolic meaning. The rector's chain contained the graphic sign of the Higher School of Maritime Commerce and the coats of arms of three cities: Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia, and thus undoubtedly became one of the first 'tri-city symbols of power'.
Chains of the Sopot School of Economics in the collection of the University of Gdansk Museum.
Photo: Arek Smykowski