The first announcement with regard to entrance exams into the School of Mathematics of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (which consisted of the School of Forestry, the School of Physics, the School of Mathematics and the School of Agriculture) was published in the Journal of the Balkans in October 1928 (issue no. 3684). Five students enrolled in the School of Mathematics, after passing the entrance exams which took place in November 1928. Two of the teaching members of the School were professor N. Kritikos (1894-1916) and tutor I. Gratsiatos (1909-1968), prominent members of the European mathematics community.
In the early 1930s, and after overcoming the initial administrative problems, the School of Mathematics was reorganized. The composition of its teaching staff changed completely; that is, Th. Varopoulos (1894-1957) was appointed professor of Mathematics, Oth. Pylarinos (1903-1990) was appointed professor of Theoretical Mechanics, F. Vasileiou (1894-1986) and I. Gratsiatos were appointed senior lecturers in Mathematics, and N. Kritikos left the School, as he was transferred to the National Technical University of Athens. The teaching members mentioned above focused on Mathematics Analysis (being deeply influenced by the corresponding French school), vector methods in Theoretical Mechanics and, to a certain extent, on Differential Geometry. In 1934, upon a relevant recommendation of Varopoulos, the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics was divided into “two Schools: a) the School of Physics and Mathematics, and b) the School of Agriculture and Forestry”. The first degrees were awarded in April 1933, while the number of students enrolling kept rising.
Although staff continued to be appointed to the School of Mathematics, such as I. Xanthakis (1904-1994) to the position of professor and I. Anastassiadis (1912-1988) to the position of senior lecturer, the development of the School was thwarted during the occupation period, because of the turmoil that the country was in. A significant number of its students were even executed or killed, while fighting to liberate Greece. When the German troops left Greece at the end of October 1944, Pylarinos, who was then Rector of the Aristotle University, managed to successfully deal with the difficult task of restructuring the School of Mathematics. Students started getting back to their studies, and the School grew in popularity and size. This was the period when M Brikas (1896-1981) and I. Anastassiadis were appointed professors to the School. In the meantime, research trends changed and the interests of the professors of the School focused on different areas; thus, the curriculum was reorganized to include courses in Differential and Integral Calculus and in Probability and Statistics.
It took more than twenty years before the School of Mathematics was reorganized again. By 1969, the School had changed to a great extent with regard to its teaching personnel, and had grown in size. Research and teaching activities were rationalized and the curriculum was reorganized to meet the needs of the time. The research activities carried out by N. Oikonomidis (who taught Complex Functions), K. Lakkis (who taught Algebra), N. Stefanidis (who taught Geometry), G. Georganopoulos (who taught Differential Equations) and E.-A. Iliopoulou (who taught Topology) were radical and pioneering in furthering mathematical studies in Greece. When Varopoulos passed away (1957) and Pylarinos left the School (1966), it was I. Anastassiadis who contributed greatly to the development of the School of Mathematics. Anastassiadis also served as rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the academic year 1975-1976.
At the end of the 1970s, the School of Mathematics was ready to embrace changes and focus on applied mathematics. Newly appointed professors to the School, who specialized in applied mathematics, helped reorganize the curriculum to include new subjects. Professor S. Kounias contributed greatly to this restructuring, before he was transferred to the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The implementation of Law no. 1268/82 (known as the legal framework with regards to Greek universities), along with the reorganization of the curriculum (in the academic year 1982-83) led to providing students with the opportunity to specialize in a) pure mathematics, and b) applied mathematics. In 1982-83, the School of Mathematics was granted its autonomous status. In 1983-84, the academic year was decided to be divided into two semesters, the fall and spring semester. At the end of each semester exams were held. In 1984-85, it was decided that each course carry a designated number of credit units and students get their degree upon completing the required number of credit numbers.
In 2002-03, 74 years after its founding, the School of Mathematics decided to reorganize its curriculum again. Its aim was to provide a balance of subjects in pure mathematics, on the one hand, and subjects in applied mathematics, on the other. Moreover, its goal was to develop a new profile, while offering students high-quality education and training in mathematics, as well as qualifying them for employment in the public and private sector.
Today, the programme of study in the School of Mathematics meets the increasing needs of the constantly changing fields of mathematics and provides young scholars with advanced knowledge in the main subjects taught in the programme. Its teaching, research and administrative staff are highly-qualified and experienced and it attracts high-level students. The School of Mathematics aims to activate students’ critical mathematical thinking and enhance their understanding of mathematical concepts, with a goal of positive change in society. Students are encouraged to reconsider issues, such as the importance of human sciences, academic freedom, social work, and the need for public education, free to all.
Secretariat: Anastasia Stergiou