The University of the Visayas was founded by the late Don Vicente A. Gullas in 1919 as the Visayan Institute (V.I.) in Cebu City. The second World War razed to the ground the physical facilities of the V.I. at its original site. Undaunted by adversities, Don Vicente reopened classes in Argao, Cebu in 1946. A year later the V.I. moved back to its present site in Colon Street, Cebu City.
As early as its founding, the V.I. had pioneered in education innovations to provide equal education opportunities for those who have the capability and the desire for improving themselves. It was the first to conduct night school class for working students in Cebu City in the 1940s. The “study now pay later plan” had been a practice at the V.I. long before it was adopted by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) in the 1980s.
In 1948, the Visayan Institute was awarded university status, the first to become a university in Cebu, and was renamed the University of the Visayas. Since then the expansion in its baccalaureate and post graduate course offerings and in its physical facilities has been phenomenal. From an initial enrollment of 37 students the V.I. evolved into a university with an enrollment of 20,000 distributed throughout its campuses. Its alumni have distinguished themselves in government service and public administration, and in the professions of law, engineering and architecture, pharmacy, medicine, nursing, education, criminology, maritime and nautical, computer studies as well as in sports and the arts.