D Mariano

Mariano Fernández-Daza, founder of Santa Ana University Center

Mariano Fernández-Daza and Fernández de Córdova, IX Marquis de la Encomienda (1925-2007), was the founder and promoter of Santa Ana University Center, one of the many foundations that, within his great educational work, he undertook throughout his life. He felt a very intense love for his land and he dedicated half of his life, and his estate, to promoting the social conditions of his fellow Extremaduran people. Some of the works with which he tried to improve the lives of those around him include: social housing projects, the first Extremaduran agricultural cooperative, a library and archive, nursery, primary and high school schools, as well as the university.

A lawyer by profession, he was passionate about history and an excellent bibliographer and librarian. Those who enjoyed his vast cultural knowledge do not hesitate to define him as a scholar, and at the same time they highlight the generosity and simplicity of our founder. He was a full member of the Real Academia de Extremadura de las Artes y las Letras (The Royal Academy of Arts and Letter of Extremadura), a corresponding academic of the Real Academia de la Historia (The Royal Academy of History), a member of the Institute of Hispanic Culture, of the Spanish Association of Bibliography, of the Union of Extremaduran Bibliophiles (he earned the status of Golden Bibliophile in 1995), or the International Institute of Genealogy and Heraldry. He also enjoyed a good number of distinctions for his tireless work in different fields throughout his life trajectory, including: a medal for agricultural merit, a medal for civil merit, a medal for political merit, the Great Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X El Sabio, among others.

Santa Ana University Center began its journey in 1969, accredited by the University of Seville. Its creation and authorization was an unusual event because it was the first private, independent and secular School of Education born in Spain in a small town. The rest of the existing schools at the time depended on religious orders, usually Catholic, or political institutions. It was one more link in the great educational project devised by Fernández-Daza that had started in 1965 with the introduction of an evening baccalaureate program, the opening of a Minor College and a Home School, where more than two hundred students resided in the early years. These students, who without this initiative would never have been able to get an education, received a regulated primary education. In 1970, with the advent of a new law, it was transformed into an EGB school (EGB- Basic General Education, which equates to compulsory primary education nowadays), and the center also acquired the ownership and rights of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad High School, founded in 1878. Thanks to this, the Unified Baccalaureate diploma, a secondary diploma equivalent, was offered as well as pre-university orientation courses.

Around this time, D. Mariano Fernández-Daza began to form a bibliographic archive, which is recognized nationally for its collection on the subject of Extremaduran, only surpassed by the National Library of Spain. At present, the library, which rightly bears his name since 1996 (The IX Marqués de la Encomienda Library), has more than 150,000 entries.

In 1980, the center began its relationship with the University of Extremadura, which means that its programs are certified by this public entity. At this point the University School of Technical Engineering was created, which was followed twelve years later by the School of Social Work.

The work of Mr. Mariano Fernández-Daza in the management of Santa Ana University Center is continued by his daughter, Mrs. Carmen Fernández-Daza Álvarez, X Marquesa de la Encomienda.
The trajectory of Santa Ana University Center, after fifty years of educational and cultural service, and the efforts and tireless work of its founder, Mr. Mariano Fernández-Daza, were recognized by the Junta de Extremadura in 2016, granting it the highest recognition of the Autonomous Community, the Medal of Extremadura, by Decree 123/2016, of August 2 (DOE of August 8, 2016).

Recipient Speech for the Medal of Extremadura


C/ IX Marqués de la Encomienda nº 2- 06200 - Almendralejo

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