In Gyumri (former Leninakan), famous for its long educational, scientific and handicrafts traditions, the necessity to have their own forge of higher education in the region was emphasized, and in 1934 as per the resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Armenian SSR Leninakan Pedagogical Institute (LMI) was founded.
The Pedagogical Institute with its three departments – those of linguistics, physics and mathematics, and history was opened in one of the magnificent buildings of Alexandrapol, renamed Leninakan, in the building of the former Commercial College, where in 1919 started the glorious chronicle of the Armenian University which later moved to Yerevan.
During its first academic year, the institute had about 16 lecturers, 100 students (among them the future great poet Johannes / Hovhannes Shiraz).
In a relatively short period before the war, during only 5-6 years, the newly founded educational institution was able to establish itself not only thanks to its staff and the university leadership’s (rectors: S. Movsisyan -1935-37, M. Margaryan -1937-47 and 1956-60) consistent and purposeful activities, but also with the support of the best specialists of Yerevan partner universities and institutes. During that period, LMI gave 375 graduates, who joined the ‘army’ of educators in Leninakan and the northern regions of Armenia, thus contributing to the education and upbringing of the younger generation.
Realizing its duty to the Motherland, Leninakan Pedagogical Institute couldn’t stay aside from the Great Patriotic War. Many lecturers and students joined the army. About 70 of the participants were immortalized, and some of them returned with the glory of the winner, awarded with battle orders and medals. In 1949-51, 131 out of 1719 students studying of LMI participated in the Great Patriotic War. As the institute did not cease / stop its activities even during the war, supporting the sacred cause of defending the Motherland, 391 of the above-mentioned students were awarded the USSR medals and orders. And Ashot Amatuni was awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
The first post-war years were also a serious ordeal for the institute (rectors: Sh. Aznauryan-1947-53, H. Gorgyan-1953-56), which was as always overcome with honor, thus restoring the normal activity of the institute.
In 1949, by a government special decision/ as per the special resolution of the Government, LMI was named after the great Armenian educator Michael Nalbandian. A lot of distinguished scientists and artists took part in the new spring of the life of the institute, making contribution to the scientific-pedagogical life of the institution.
Thanks to this, body of LMI PL was replenished, new professions were introduced, the material and technical base got expanded. During the first half of the 1950s, more than 400 students were studying at the university there were more than 400 students at the institute.
However, this rise was partially slowed down because of the change in the status of LMI in 1960: it became a branch of Yerevan Pedagogical Institute after Khachatur Abovyan. As a result, the admission was reduced, the staff of the PL is reduced / the faculty was cut, some Chairs were united.
The most favourable period for the further growth of LPI educational, scientific and cultural activity, its rating and prestige began in 1966 (Rector: K. Hovsepyan-1960-94), when the independent status of the university was restored / when the status of sovereignty of the institute was restored.
In 1984, as per the decree of the presidency of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Leninakan State Pedagogical Institute after Mikael Nalbandian was awarded the “Badge of Honor” for the training of qualified specialists and their merits in the development of scientific research in the field of pedagogy.
The catastrophic earthquake of 1988 and later overcoming the situation caused by human losses and the destruction of the material and technical base, and ensuring the necessary conditions for normal life and activity was a serious challenge for the whole of Armenia, and for Leninakan Pedagogical Institute in particular. Speaking in favour of the faculty and student body of the ‘Nalbandyan’ Institute, it is worth mentioning that through manifesting their united and consolidated approach, efforts and devotion, they were able to get out of this ordeal with honour. Since the long-lasting post-earthquake period till the years of receiving the status of university (rectors: K. Hovsepyan-1960-94, S. Sargsyan-1994-97, H. Harutyunyan-1997- 2002, V. Grigoryan – 2002-2016, S. Minasyan-2016-18), extensive work has been carried out at Shirak’s Alma Mater in order to create and supplement the necessary material and technical base for the restoration and modernization of the teaching-methodological, scientific-research, sports and cultural spheres, as well as the training of relevant professional staff.
Accreditation Committee of the National Center for Quality Assurance in Vocational Education 2016 GSPI was granted institutional accreditation by the decision N18 of June 21, 2006.
As per resolution N1031 – N, September 22, 2016, of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, “Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute after M. Nalbandyan” SNPO was reorganized into “Shirak State University after M. Nalbandyan” foundation, getting registered on December 2, 2016.
On the eve of its ninetieth anniversary, Shirak State University is the full-fledged legal successor of Leninakan, later Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute, the carrier of the best traditions and the heir of creativity.
Realizing their obligations and responsibility to the newly independent Motherland, being educated through the heroic examples of their parents and grandparents, in 2020, the students, staff and alumni of the University stood out with courage and devotion during the forty-four-day war for survival. Thirty-one of them did not return home, becoming eternal travelers with their self-sacrifice, fighting till the last drop of blood against an insidious enemy. Even today, they still live through their silent presence in the Memorial Corner of the University.
Today, about 1,900 students study in 34 distance learning bachelor’s degree programmes in four departments (humanities and arts, natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences and law, pedagogy) of Shirak M. Nalbandyan State University (Rector – Ye. Serobyan), 450 under 21 master’s degree programmes, and 14 students in 7 fields of researcher education. In the work of 14 professional chairs of Shirak State University 1 / one correspondent-member of RA NAS is included, about 20 Doctors and Professors, 200 candidates of Sciences – nominees and Associate Professor.
As a result of the higher education reform and internationalization of the university in Armenia since 2005, the European system of credit accumulation and transfer was introduced. The university expanded the spheres of international cooperation and the scope of partners, concluding agreements with about 30 European, 20 CIS and 40 other Armenian universities. New structural subdivisions, training laboratories and educational programmes were set up, a series of professional classrooms were modernized and equipped with computers.
The university has its anthem, emblem and gold medal, which is awarded by the resolution of the Academic Council.
Thanks to all this, today the University has become a unique educational, sports and cultural centre of Shirak region.