2022_Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen_Sandbeeld_Brussel_VUB

Emotional plea by Verhaegen

Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen was not only a charismatic lawyer. He was also the chairman of the Brussels Masonic Lodge 'Les Amis Philantropes'. After the plans for the establishment of a Catholic university became known, he made a passionate plea for the establishment of a Free University that would guarantee 'pure and moral education'.  His appeal was a great success: the collection box was circulated, attendees offered to teach in the new institution, and the mayor of Brussels, Nicolas Rouppe, would provide classrooms. The result: on 20 November 1834, the Université Libre de Belgique - later to become "de Bruxelles" - opened its doors. Translate Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) into Dutch and you get Vrije Universiteit van Brussel: Free University of Brussels. In this sense, ULB is also already VUB. Moreover, the new university immediately met with great approval in Flemish circles. As early as 1858, the "Taalminnend Studentgenootschap, Schild en Vriend" (Language-loving Students' Association, Shield and Friend) was founded, and in 1880 the "Vlaamse Vooruitstrevende Studentenkring, Geen Taal geen Vrijheid" (Flemish progressive students' association, no language no freedom) was created.