Ivan Ohiienko is founder and a rector of Kamianets-Podilskyi state ukrainian university


History of the name of KAMIANETS-PODILSKYI national university (in 2008)

The historical scholars, scientific and educational community, the intellectuals of Ukraine repeatedly offered previous governments to vest the name of Ivan Оhiienko, the prominent Ukrainian scholar, public, educational, ecclesiastical and public figure, rector and founder of the Kamianets-Podilskyi State Ukrainian University (1918-1921) to Kamianets-Podilskyi National University.

The archival and published documents, scientific works of the modern Ukrainian historians (M.S.Tymoshyk, I.I.Tiurmenko, V.P.Liahotskyi,  Ye.I.Sokhatska, O. M.Zavalniuk etc.), give an opportunity to find out a place and role of I. I. Ohiienko in founding and functioning of one of the first national Ukrainian universities created in time of Ukrainian national-democratic revolution 1917-1920, – the Kamianets-Podilskyi state Ukrainian university, contribution of the scientist and State creator to development of the scientific area, knowledge about Ukraine, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, system of national community. Ivan Ohiienko was born on January, 2 (15) in 1882 in a small town Brusyliv, Radomyshl district of the Kyiv province in a peasant family. In 1896 after local primary school, he entered Kyiv Medical Military-assistant’s School. From 1900 Ivan Ohiienko served as a doctor’s assistant in a hospital. In 1903 a young man passed external exams and entered Ostrih classic gymnasium in Volyn, that gave him an opportunity to enter the medical faculty of the University of St. Volodymyr. Later he became the student of historical and philological faculty there.

In 1909, having defended his scientific thesis “Ioanakii Galyatovskyi’s Key to Understanding”, Ivan Ohiienko graduated from the University with a first-degree diploma, became a Full Member of the Ukrainian Scientific Society. In 1912 he filled the ranks of the historical association of Nestor-Litopysets, becoming a Corresponding Member of the Society of Ancient Writers (St. Petersburg).

In 1910-1912 Ivan Ohiieko studied at the Higher Pedagogical Courses in Kyiv. At the beginning of 1911 a ministerial decree on the enrollment of I.I.Ohienko as a professorial scholarship holder was issued. During 1914 – early 1915 he had successful master’s exams on the Church Slavonic, Russian, Polish and Serbian languages, the history of Russian and European literature (all – “excellent”), received the title of private Associate Professor of the Department of Russian Language and Literature at the University of St.Volodymyr.

After the revolution of 1917 Ivan Ohiienko used new political living conditions of Ukrainians, prepared and issued the work “Native language in the Ukrainian school” for the Ukrainian national renaissance. Hoping for a general study of the mother tongue in Ukrainian schools, he prepared a program for its teaching, as well as a special literature guide for studying, the history and law of Ukrainian spelling, orthographic dictionary of the Ukrainian language. Since June 1917, I.I.Ohiienko joined the organization of the Ukrainian National University in Kyiv. On September 24, he was elected a secretary of the History and Philology Faculty. On October 5, 1917, on the occasion of the official opening of the Kyiv People’s Ukranian University, Ivan Ohiienko, on behalf of the leadership of the educational institution, delivered a lecture on “Ukrainian Culture” to the professors, students and guests.

Ogienko was a member of the Council of Lecturers at the Kyiv National Ukrainian University and was a member of such commissions as the Library commissin and the development of a network of Ukrainian universities. He closely followed the national education, the attitude of Russian higher schools in Ukraine to the process of national revival after the proclamation of the UNR. On the 22nd of March (the 4th of April according to the Old Style), in 1918 I.I.Ohiienko, as a member of the Kyiv professors delegation, visited Kamianets-Podilskyi. The commission studied the possibility of opening the university here. On May 18, 1918, the Board of Lecturers of the KNUU elected Ohiienko responsible for the establishment of the university in the provincial center of Podillya. On the 22nd of May, 1918 Rada voted to appoint him an acting Rector of the Kamianets University.

In June 20, 1918 the work started at the Ministry of Education and Arts of the Ukrainian State, the Commission on Higher Education Institutions and Academic Institutions of Ukraine under the chairmanship of Academician V.Vernadskyi, which was also invited by I. I. Ohienko (to participate in the consideration of issues related to Kamianets-Podilskyi University). On the 6th of July, 1918 I.I.Ohiienko as head of the future university arrived in Kamianets-Podilskyi. He had a great preparatory work here.

On August 17, P.P. Skoropadsky approved the law of the Council of Ministers on the foundation of the Kamianets-Podilskyi State Ukrainian University from July 1, 1918.

Іvan Ohiienko was engaged in organizational work. His talent was realized in the repairing of educational facilities, the mobilization of searching for scarce materials and supplies, the formation of a professorial corporation, “breaking down” the laws necessary for the university, defending the interests of the poor peasantry, setting up an all-Ukrainian holiday of the University’s opening on October 22, 1918. Since autumn 1918, the rector has become one the most notable figures of the social and political life of Kamianets-Podilskyi. He took an active part in the awakening of national consciousness of local Ukrainians, helping people who were in a difficult position. As an authoritative Ukrainian figure, he was elected a member of the Main Council of the Ukrainian Red Cross.

On January 5, 1919, the Directorate of the UNR appointed I. Ohiienko as Minister of Public Education with preservation of his previous position. His first step was to order the waiving of his ministerial salary in favor of the poor students of the Kamianets-Podilskyi university. He was actively engaged in the creation of the Council of Minister of Education. I.Ohiienko had the difficult inherited problem to deal with. It was the fate of Russian universities of Ukraine in the conditions of national revival. On January 24, 1919 I.Ohienko founded the “Commission on Higher Schools and Scientific Institutions”, consisting of 15 people. In an effort to expand the range of entrants, to give primary school teachers the opportunity to get university education, I.Ohiienko organized the process of elaboration of the “Rules of admission to higher education institutions of Ukrainians who studied in the Teachers’ Seminars, reformed by law on June 14, 1917”.

While being in Halychyna, Ivan Ohiienko, the Minister of Education of the UNR tried to pursue through the government decisions that were important for a National Nigh School. On March 30, 1919, upon its submission, the Council of People’s Ministers adopted the Law on Privileges for Private Associate Professors of the Kyiv and Kamianets-Podilskyi State Ukrainian Universities in obtaining a Master’s Degree, and on April 6 and 12, laws on the opening agricultural and legal faculties in the structure of KPDUU from the 1st of April, 1919.

During the Kamianets era of the Directorate of the UNR (June-November 1919), I.Ohhienko achieved that the Institution headed by him has proven to be a center of national culture, an important center of educational and cultural life of the region and a pillar of the Ukrainian state-building. The rector himself, in addition to participating in the work of various courses that functioned at the university, delivered separate lectures, which collected the full house audience.

Taking into account the I.Ohiienko’s extraordinary qualities – a great organizational skill, Ukrainian patriotism, active advocacy of the national character of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Directory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR, UPR) on September 15, 1919 appointed him the Minister of Confessions of the UPR, leaving for him the post of the rector of the university. The new minister took up the Ukrainianization of the Orthodox Church. After the Ukrainian army left Kamianets-Podilskyi, I.Ohiienko in November 1919, he was appointed to the position of Chief of Government of the UPR. He was the highest Ukrainian public official who was faced with dozens of problems (the formation of different offices, the Council (Committee) of the Chief Representative, the activities of local and foreign Ukrainian institutions, military personnel, schools, hospitals, several thousand government officials, the existence of large debts to pay salaries and allowances to various categories of state employees in a few months, the problem of preserving state property, the stay of thousands of migrants from different regions of Ukraine, the aggravation of inter-confessional relations, the awful conditions of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Polish camps, the material difficulties of the Ukrainian diplomatic mission in Warsaw, etc.). As a rector of the university, he was involved in the issues of fuel, the elaboration of the Statute of a Scientific society, the creation of the Commission for the translation of the Holy Scripture into Ukrainian, the purchase of scientific literature and educational equipment abroad, the allocation of funds to the publishing department of the Council of Student Representatives for the printing of lectures of teachers, the elaboration of the Statyt (Code) for the university library, the release from the Polish arrest of individual students, the formation of commissions for the development of the historical vocabulary of the Ukrainian language, the development of legal terminology, etc.

He returned to Kamyanets on November 7, 1920, but on November 14, because of the onslaught of Soviet troops and evacuation from the city of Ukrainian state institutions, members of the government and the leadership of various political parties and organizations, he left forever the Motherland and went to the last emigration.

Together with his loved ones, I.I.Ohiienko was in Tarnovo, and later in Vynnyky near Lviv. Later, the scientist moved to Lviv, where he worked on linguistic problems and issues of “Russian influence” on the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, published the “Orthodox Dictionary”, “Ipostat and the Correctness of the Ukrainian language”, wall charts for schools, etc., taught at the local women’s seminary, where he was soon fired.

Together with the priest Savchuk, I. Ohiienko was searching for a Metropolitan for the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada, took an active part in the creation of the UGCC there. In 1923 he was invited to the post of a teacher (according to other data – a rector) of the seminary in Canada. With the opening of the Warsaw University of the Orthodox Theological Department, I.Ohiienko headed the Department of the Old Slavonic Language and the Cyrillic Paleography, rallied a group of Ukrainian students who actively opposed Polonization. In 1930 he was elected a member of the Council of the Orthodox Church, later – the deputy chairman of the pre-assembly committee. In 1932, I.Ohiienko was dismissed from the University of Warsaw for “Ukrainian nationalism”, “opposition to the polonization of Ukrainian students, Orthodox theologians”.

In 1935-1937 he edited the scientific and literary monthly “Our culture”. Here, as well as in “Native language”, he published his works – “The complexity of the Ukrainian language”, “Ukrainian literary accent”, “Native word”. While working as a professor at the Theological Faculty, he wrote a number of fundamental works: Essays on the History of the Ukrainian Language (1927), Konstantin and Methodius (1927-1928), Memoirs of the Old Slavonic Myth (1927), Morphology of Church Slavery (1927), “Rise of the ABC of the Literary Language of the Slavs” (1927), and in 1937 I.Ohiienko had 441scientific works. From 1932 to 1939, he worked on the translation of the Bible and other liturgical books from Hebrew and Greek into Ukrainian.

Since the beginning of the Second World War, he has headed the church council, which was fighting for the restoration of the national spirit of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland. On September 30, 1940, the Cathedral of the Bishops of the UAOC decided to consecrate I.Ohiienko to the bishops with the title of Archbishop of Kholmskyi and Podliasskyi. On October 8, 1940, in the monastery of Yabluchyn, Metropolitan Dionysius made him a monk and gave the name of Hilarion, who was ordained a deacon on October 10, and the next day, the hieromonk with the conduct of the rank of Archimandrite. Since October 21, 1940, Hilarion is the deputy of the Metropolitan of the UAOC Governorate General. In 1941, the question of appointing I. Ohiienko to the post of Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine was considered, but because of internal strife in the church circles, the candidacy of Ilarion was not passed. On March 26, 1944, the Cathedral of the Bishops of the Warsaw Metropolia consecrated him to the Metropolitan of Kholm and Podliasskyi. But due to the circumstances of the war, it was not time to deploy a wide range of activities in a new way. Soon Hilarion had to escape from the threat of the Soviet troops. He was in Krynytsia, which was in Lemkivshchyna, Slovakia, Zakopane, Krakow and in the Catholic monastery near Vienna, then in Switzerland, where, along with other Ukrainian refugees, he settled in one of the hotels near Lake Geneva. I. Ohiienko arrived in Canada after the invitation of the community of the church of St. Intercession in Winnipeg in March 1947. In August 1951, the Cathedral of the Bishops elected him the First Hierarch of the UGCC in Canada. I. Ohiienko died on March 29, 1972.  He was buried in Winnipeg.

Since the late 80’s of the twentieth century the difficult way of returning the name, works and state building activity of Ivan Ohiienko to his homeland began. It was opposed by various political forces. Independent Ukraine has done a lot for honoring the fighter for the freedom of Ukraine, the faithful son and patriot – Ivan Ohiienko, in particular, Ivan Ohiienko Kamianets-Podilskyi National University (former pedagogical institute).