Alexander I signed the order for the Kharkov Emperor lyceum to be opened on January 17, 1805. The biggest contribution for the lyceum to be opened was made by V. Karazin, who is otherwise known as the Ukrainian Lomonosov: the lyceum was opened only due to his efforts, as Kharkov was a small city at those times.
He convinced the locals to contribute to the construction of the lyceum; also the state money were used to create the material basis of the school. In 1907 a monument to Karazin was opened. It has been repeatedly replaced until 2004 when it was placed just outside the lyceum.
The first headmaster of the Kharkov lyceum was appointed Severin Pototskiy, who then employed other members of the staff. The first year saw 57 students at the beginning of the study; however, only 27 of them eventually graduated. The 2 only majors here were law and medicine.
In 1920 the lyceum was named the Academy of theoretical knowledge, and from 1921 to 19300 it was known as the Kharkov institute for public education. The main objective was the preparation of teachers. It didn’t require as much hard scientific work as before, so to keep their minds occupied the officials created a number of research departments. By 1921 there was 38 of departments. That year based on the medical faculty the Kharkov medical institute was established. In 1929 the Ukrainian institute of mathematical studies was established based on the math department.
In 1933 the Kharkov pedagogical institute and the physical-mathematical institute united to form the Kharkov state university that was named after Maxim Gorky who died in 1936. First the institute located in a building on the Dzerzhinsky square, until in 2005 it was moved to the building that was previously occupied by the Govorov academy.
The first dean of the university was Ivan Rizhsky. The university taught 3 Nobel prize winners: Mechnikov (medicine), Landau (physics) and Simon Kuznets.
Shortly after the university was first established, students were reluctant to wear uniform. This led to the dean becoming irritated and ordering everyone not only to wear only uniform, but also prohibiting student from visiting theatres and cafes, and smoking. Girls weren’t allowed to visit the studies. One student, Sila Tsytsurin, was studied for 15 years, but has never graduated.