Jelena Milogradov-Turin

Department of Astronomy of the University of Belgrade

(Adapted from Publ. Astron. Obs. Belgrade, No. 75 (2003), 289-292)

The beginning of higher university-like education in Serbia can be traced down to 1838, when the "Licej" (a kind of advanced secondary school) was founded in Kragujevac. The "Licej" was separated from the "Gimnazija" in 1839 and transferred to Belgrade in 1841. Judging by the content of the textbooks, elements of astronomy were lectured at the "Licej". The traces of "physical" astronomy in its curricula can be found in the academic year 1854/55.

The law of 1863, regulating the transformation of the "Licej" into the Grand School (a forerunner of the University), did not include teaching astronomy. This was corrected by the 1880 law on changes and annexes, which stipulated the astronomy to be taught together with meteorology. Nevertheless, lectures did not start until 1884 when Milan Nedeljković was elected suplent (supplementary lecturer) for these courses. He became a professor of the Grand School in 1886, the first director of the Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory in 1887 and an associate professor of the University after its foundation in 1905 (according to the new ranking). Professor Nedeljković's career was interrupted for one year, when the director and professor was Djordje Stanojević (1899/1900). When the University was founded, the Chair of Astronomy and Meteorology remained within the Faculty of Philosophy. If the year 1880 is taken to mark its foundation, the year 1924 marks the next step: separation of meteorology from astronomy.

A great advance took place when Milutin Milanković was elected professor of the University of Belgrade in 1909. He taught subjects related to applied mathematics and remained a professor for more than four decades. He became the most famous Serbian astronomer of the XX century. His best works concern the theory of climate.

Vojislav Mišković, who got his Ph.D. in stellar astronomy in France, became professor of the University of Belgrade in 1925. The new regulations of the Faculty of Philosophy introduced in 1925, for the first time treated astronomy as a separate teaching subject. The final educational scheme established a separate study group for astronomy in 1927. Mišković was also appointed director of the new Astronomical Observatory of the University of Belgrade which has grown into a modern institution under his supervision. The Observatory started working on its present location in 1932. The best of Mišković's later research was related to minor planets.

After the foundation of the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences within the frames of the University of Belgrade in 1947, the Chair of Celestial Mechanics and Astronomy was formed. After a short while, it changed the name into the Chair of Mechanics and Astronomy. The process of separation into chairs of Mechanics and of Astronomy started in 1960 and ended in 1962; therefore, this period can be taken as the time when a separate Chair of Astronomy is mentioned for the first time. The first Head of the new Chair of Astronomy, from 1964 to 1979, was Branislav Ševarlić. Following the reorganization of the Faculty of Sciences, the Chair of Astronomy became the Institute of Astronomy in 1971 and then the Department of Astronomy in 1995. It remained within the Faculty of Mathematics in the process of the latest reorganization.

The University of Belgrade was and still is the only one in Yugoslavia with a Department of Astronomy.

Astrophysics was introduced as an obligatory course at the Chair of Astronomy in 1958. It has developed into several courses since. Important changes in curricula were introduced in 1961 when two separate study groups were formed: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The Department of Astronomy has an output of 198 graduate students, 49 M.Sc. and 25 Ph.D degrees, up to 2002 inclusive. The first astronomy student graduated in 1936, the first M.Sc. degree was obtained in 1968 and the first Ph.D. degree in 1958.

The staff of the Department (Chair) of Astronomy engaged for undergraduate studies (current number, name and surname, basic life facts, academic degrees, yeaching career connected with the Department). Asterics means that transfer from (left) or to (right) an other institution occured. Subscripts mean: o - observer, l - laboratory staff, le - lecturer without a Ph.D.; superscripts mean: p -part time job, f - full-time job.

From the foundation of the Department (Chair) of Astronomy till 2002 inclusive, 37 graduate persons officially were engaged in the teaching process at the undergraduate studies. Their names and surnames (in alphabetical order), basic data on life, and of career within the Department of Astronomy are presented in the enclosed Table, as compiled from many sources, including the archive of the Faculty of Mathematics. As this Table covers a period during which many changes in the hierarchy happened, a certain unification of ranks had to be done. The equivalent present titles were inserted into the Table. Unless stated otherwise, the full-time job dates are given.

The adopted policy in this article was to enclose in the Table only names of the persons who were oficially employed and to explain some ambivalent cases.

At least dozen other persons who worked at the Astronomical (and Meteorological) Observatory, old and new, indirectly helped in education, working on instruments, demonstrating them, performing calculations and preparing publications. The first two assistants were Petar L. Vukićević who worked only a few months in 1887, and Jelenko M. Mihailović who worked from 1897 to 1906 helping with the instruments and being more active in Seismology and Meteorology. The most difficult for the classification was the period when the Astronomical Observatory was incorporated into the University, particularly between the World Wars. Younger members of the staff were mainly working on the professors' projects. Officially they were employed as assistants, calculators, observers and in one case even as an archive clerk. Most of them were either students of mathematics or graduate mathematicians. Ten of them: Gojko Đ. Vujaklija, Vojislav J. Grujić, Stanimir L. Fempl, Miloš K. Radojčić, Milorad B. Protić, Fran F. Dominko, Stojša Đukanović, Dragoslav S. Mitrinović, Ružica S. Mitrinović and Petar V. Muzen were not included in the Table since they were not engaged in the teaching process although they took part in demonstrating the instruments. Branislav M. Ševarlić and Zaharije M. Brkić, although first employed at the Astronomical Observatory, were included in the Table because they proceeded with the teaching career. The administrative division between the teaching and research jobs became more clear after the World War II. Nevertheless, some complex cases happened: Pero M. Đurković and Ljubiša A. Mitić as well as some others from the Astronomical Observatory, then already separated from the University, occasionally demonstrated the instruments at the Observatory without any official contract.

Those who came from other institutions (2, 8, 12, 15, 33 and 37), officially engaged on part-time basis for teaching of undergraduates, were also included in the Table.

The number of full-time staff has risen from one in 1884 to twelve in 1989, reaching ten in 1978. Within the last three decades the number fluctuated around ten.