The University of Nigeria which is popularly known as UNN is located in Nsukka, Enugu State and was founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1955 but was formally opened on 7th October, 1960. The university has three campuses in Nsukka, Enugu and Ituku-Ozalla, all in Enugu State, Nigeria.
UNN is reputed to be the first full-fledged indigenous and autonomous university in Nigeria and the first land grant university in Africa. It is also reckoned with as one of the first five elite universities in the country. It is made up of 15 faculties and 102 academic departments; it offers 82 undergraduate programs and 211 postgraduate programs.
The law to establish the university was passed in Eastern Nigeria on the 18th of May, 1955 and that day marked the formal beginning of the university which was inspired by the Premier of the Easter Region, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. In the bid to implement the plans of setting up the University, the then Eastern Region sought the advice of the United States of America and the United Kingdom physical and educational aspects of the university.
The proposed university site was visited by the Vice-Chancellor of University of Exeter, J.W. Cook, President of Michigan State University, Dr. John A. Hannah, and the Dean of International Programs at Michigan State University, Dr. Glen T. Taggart in 1958. The surveyed the site and investigated extensively various factors that will be required to set up a university. The result of their findings was contained in a white paper that was issued by the Eastern Nigerian Government on 30 November, 1958. They recommended, “that the development of the University of Nigeria based upon the concept of service to problems and needs of Nigeria, is a desirable project and one that should receive support from any source which could help to make it a sound endeavor.” They further recommended that the provisional council, “draw upon the technical and consultative resources available throughout the world for help in planning the institution”.
The provisional which was authorized by the Eastern Nigeria legislature in April 1959 consisted of the following; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr T. Olawale Elias, Dr. Okechukwu Ifejiani, J. S Fulton (from the UK), Dr. Margueritue Cartwright and Dr. Eldon Lee Johnson from the United States. The university was officially opened on 7 October, 1960 as the climax of the Independence Day celebration in Eastern Nigeria. Princess Alexandra of Kent, who represented Queen Elizabeth II for the independence celebrations, laid the foundation stone for one of the University’s early buildings.
Classes began on the 17 October 1960 with students’ enrollment of 220 and 13 members in the academic staff. The first convocation address was delivered by the first President of the Nigerian Federation, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and President of Michigan State University, Dr. John A. Hannah. The University of Nigeria was the first full-fledged university in Nigeria that had the power to award Nigerian degrees since the University College of Ibadan was still offering London degrees. It was also the first university that was set up by a regional government in Nigeria.
The University of Nigeria has four campuses comprising of; Nsukka (University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN), Enugu (University of Nigeria Enugu campus, UNEC), Ituku-Ozalla (University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH) and Aba (University of Nigeria Aba campus, UNAC). The main campus is located on a 871 hectares of hiily savannah in the town of Nsukka which is about 8 kilometres north of Enugu with a very healthy climate and environment. There is also an additional 209 hectares of arable land available for experimental agriculture and 207 hectares for staff development. The Nsukka campus houses the following; Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Biological Sciences, Education, Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.
The Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Enugu was incorporated into the university in 1961 and this presently forms the Enugu campus which is about 200 hectares. It consists of Faculties of Business Administration, Environmental Studies, Law and Medical Sciences. The teaching hospital (UNTH) attached to the university is located at Ituku-Ozalla (25 km south of Enugu) and is on a 500-hectare land. The Aba campus is host to the Institute of Nigerian Languages. A campus was opened in October 1973 in Calabar, Cross Rivers State but this later was converted to University of Calabar in October 1977.
University of Nigeria is well known for so many especially being the alma mater of different well meaning Nigerians who have achieved great feats in their careers. The first open heart surgery in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa was undergone in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu State.