José Simeón Cañas
|Motto||Universidad para el Cambio Social (Spanish)|
Motto in English
|University for Social Change|
|Type||Private Catholic Research Non-profit Coeducational Higher education institution|
(Society of Jesus)
|Rector||Andreu Oliva, S.J.|
|Campus||Urban, 38 acres (15 ha)|
|Colors||Black, white, blue|
José Simeón Cañas Central American University (Spanish: Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas"), also known as UCA El Salvador, is a private Catholic university with nonprofit purposes in San Salvador, El Salvador. It is operated by the Society of Jesus.
UCA was founded on September 15, 1965, at the request of a group of Catholic families who appealed to the Salvadoran government and the Society of Jesus in order to create a university as an alternative to the University of El Salvador, becoming the first private institution of higher education in the country. The Jesuits also run Central American University in Nicaragua (UCA Managua), opened in 1960.
UCA has since evolved to be one of the best institutions of higher learning in Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama). This is the case, despite the university's focus on playing a decisive role in the transformation of the unjust Salvadoran society. Such a focus within the Salvadoran context has driven the university to give priority to undergraduate degrees, research within the social sciences, and popular presentation of research results ("social projectionl") in local peer-reviewed journals.
In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Civil War in El Salvador, UCA was known as the home of several internationally recognized Jesuit scholars and intellectuals, including Jon Sobrino, Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, and Segundo Montes. They were outspoken against the abuses of the Salvadoran military and government, and carried out research to demonstrate the effects of the war and poverty in the country. The extreme social conditions in El Salvador provided a very rich empirical basis for innovative research within sociology, social anthropology, philosophy, social psychology, and theology. These scholars made important and lasting contributions within these fields. Ellacuría, Martín-Baró and Segundo Montes, along with three other Jesuit professors, their housekeeper, and her daughter, were murdered by the Salvadoran Armed forces on November 16, 1989, in one of the most notorious episodes from the Civil War (see Murder of UCA scholars).
The university is located at Antiguo Cuscatlán. The university campus has 38 acres (16 ha) with 33 buildings, a professional soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as three auditoriums and four cafeterias. The campus also includes a minimarket, a museum, three clinics, a book shop, a main library, several smaller thematic libraries, and a documentation center.