On 12 January 1806, Ferdinand III of Bourbon, king of Naples and the Two Sicilies, transformed the Panormite Academy of Studies into a University, granting it the power to issue degrees in theology, medicine, law, and philosophy: a conquest that the city had been waiting for centuries. . In the 15th century, in fact, (but perhaps already two centuries earlier) there was a Franciscan studio in Palermo where Theology, Sacred Scripture, Canon Law, and Philosophy are taught, and the General Studio, also open to the laity, whose courses allow you to achieve graduation from other universities. In 1550, these two realities were overwhelmed by the birth of the Jesuit College, destined to conquer a role of absolute protagonism in the reality of the time and, in the imposing Collegio Massimo, today the seat of the regional library.,
On 1 December 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Bourbon kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and all their possessions, including libraries, were confiscated by the royal power. On July 31, 1778, the king entrusted a Delegation with the task of reorganizing the Studio in Palermo and, alongside the "teachings of words", "the teachings of things" were introduced, namely Geometry, Economics, Agriculture. and Commerce. The future University was in embryo.
With the arrival of Garibaldi in 1860 and the annexation of Sicily to the Savoy kingdom, the University became entirely secular, the faculty of Theology was closed and the School for engineers and architects was established. The university becomes a place of lively political debates and intense participation in the life of the city, the region, the country. He is the protagonist, with his teeth, of that fruitful period of artistic, architectural, literary production, which traveled through Sicily between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century; contributes to the urban transformation of the city and, with its graduates, to the formation of the ruling class of the island and a significant part of the political class that would have governed the country.
After the Second World War which caused huge losses among the personnel and serious damage to the structures, the University managed to recover despite the scarce economic resources and social disorientation. From there, a phase of profound transformation begins to respond to the growing need for university training and illustrious personalities of the scientific world carry out their activities within the University of Palermo: from Giuseppe Piazzi, who discovered the first asteroid in 1801, to the chemist Stanislao Cannizzaro who makes a decisive contribution to the modern atomic system, to Emilio Segrè, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1959.