LIUC-Università Cattaneo was created in 1989 by the convergent will of 300 entrepreneurs in the Province of Varese (UNIVA) and Alto Milanese to create a university that would address economics-law-technology-science- and management, in order to prepare young people according to the real needs of the labour world.
It is the only Italian university, founded and directly managed by an entrepreneurial Association, created to provide training as close as possible to the demands of the business world and adapted to a local context characterised by a widespread presence of economic activities of small and medium size, and number of service functions to productive companies. A totally new initiative, therefore, that aimed to fill a gap then present in the scenario of Italian education.
In October 1991, just 26 months after the project had begun academic activities started, transforming LIUC in the seventh non-state universities present in Italy, the concrete expression of the need for strategic synergy between university, businesses and the territory.
On the pathway accompanying LIUC, from its founding to the present, there has been for all the spirit of doing for the business community that gave the University life, a spirit that becomes knowledge and understanding. For this reason, in the history of LIUC, there is the story of a cultural fabric, social and human, that goes beyond the horizon of time and refers to the great values that inspire the tradition of work, of thought, and of excellence. A spirit that is found in the vision and mission of a modern university, a university “created by companies for companies”, which focuses on the value of human resources, with a view to continual renewal and innovation.
And more, a strong sense of belonging, born from sharing not only the goal but also the way that one needs to take to get there. This pathway is, in turn, based on knowledge and know-how that, for LIUC, is an indispensable tool to create opportunities for growth and development for people.
There is concrete evidence of the results achieved to date, as the good rate of employability after graduation and the results, in terms of evaluation and merit, that reward the didactic quality and excellence of the structure.
All this is not only a source of pride for what has been done so far, but above all, motivation to continue to be a driving force, in which knowledge is born from dialogue, strong and constant, between the academic world and the world of work: to continue to be not only a school of I thought, but also a workshop of doing.
LIUC was named after the great Lombard economist and thinker, Carlo Cattaneo, who had the idea of combining the three elements of classical economics – raw material, labour and capital – the intelligence and will of men, anticipating a problem and a need that characterises the current production scenario, recognising the central role of the entrepreneur in the economic process.
Strong, therefore, is the link with LIUC, the University where teaching business, economics, law, technological dynamics, and organisational and behavioural techniques is above all cultural action. The activity of company management in fact, both in the managerial role and in the business, involves precise social responsibilities and requires a united learning process of the person.
Social and cultural development, argued Cattaneo, necessarily passes with the development of ideas, skills and practices that need to be part of the package of those who aspire to become rightfully part of the future class of leaders, called to work in the business world where there are free professions and institutions.
LIUC is located within the historic structure of an industrial complex, the Cantoni cotton mill, Castellanza, itself a testimony to the entrepreneurial pioneering of the Olona valley, born around 1830, and that later became full of industry, unique in the area for its size and the fact that of being the first, united spinning and weaving, to reach a number of 1,500 workers, more than 1,350 of them operating functioning machine frames.
High architectural and cultural value was applied in the restoration and rehabilitation of the former spinning workshop, commissioned by the Union of Industrialists of the Province of Varese.
For an operation of recovery in continuity, there was chosen the architect Aldo Rossi, the first Italian to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture (1990), and theoretician of an innovative awareness of the city as a harmonic sum of all ages and of all styles.
He found the solution in the use of Archetypes; the forms that are recurrent in the history of architecture, forms that give a real boost to the existing town and, at the same time, to result in something innovative and traditional.
Combining the traditional spirit with the most innovative, in 1989 Aldo Rossi faced the recovery of the industrial area of the former “Cantoni” cotton mill, with the aim of turning it into the location of LIUC reinterpreting the industrial buildings that are maintained and simultaneously redefined to qualify and represent the new character of the University and of the spaces for the community.
The nineteenth-century factory thus became, in 1991, the home of LIUC-Università Cattaneo.
To date, the factory buildings have been the home to the University Campus, of Anglo-Saxon influence, a real “small city” to in which to live, 360 °, the LIUC experience.
The covered area of the University is 68,000 square metres; classrooms with a total of3,000 seats, a lecture hall of more than 300 seats, five workshops, a library of 1,600 square metres with 100,000 volumes and a rich collection of periodicals, an auditorium with 100 seats, a large open space “café” dedicated to student activities, experiential workshops and home to numerous events.
The Campus of LIUC also has a university residence, named after the Castellana industrialist, Luigi Pomini, with 440 beds and a total area of 10,800 square metres that accommodates both Italian and foreign students.
All perfectly integrated into the city territory also with a large green space, LIUC park, of 26,000 square metres, the location for conducting the annual Degree ceremony.