Semarang, on the North Coast of Java, is the capital city of the province of Central Java. It lies between Jakarta and Surabaya, being 480 km east of Jakarta and 308 km to the west of Surabaya. Semarang is famous as the ‘City of Lumpia’, lumpia being a traditional food.
Formed during the 8th Century AD in the coastal area of Bergota, known also to historians as Plagota, Semarang is part of the ancient Mataram Kingdom, as mentioned in semarang.go.id. At the time, the area consisted of a group of small islands and was home to a bustling port. The islands later merged to form the mainland as a result of subsidence cluster. The lower region of the city of Semarang as it is now known was previously sea and the harbour that was estimated to be around Pasar Bulu now extends into Simongan harbour. Admiral Cheng Ho’s fleet landed in Simongan harbour in 1406 AD and in his landing place stands a once crowded temple and mosque called the Shrine of Gedong Batu (Sam Poo Kong).
As recorded in semarang.go.id, in the late 15th century, Made Pandan, the Prince of the empire of Demak, along with his son, Raden Pandan Arang, headed to the north-west coast in search of new areas for settlement. In an area, now known to be part of Bergota, the Prince cleared forests, established Islamic schools and introduced the Islamic religion. At the time the area was very fertile and produced many trees known for their acid (in the Javanese language: Asem Arang) from which the name ‘Semarang’ originated.
As the founder of the village, the Prince became head of the local area, taking the title of Kyai Ageng Pandan Arang I. After he died, he was succeeded by his son as Kyai Ageng Pandan Arang II. On May 2, 2547, a date chosen to coincide with the commemoration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on the 12th of the third month of the Arabic calendar, 954 AH, Sultan Hadiwijaya passed Semarang as a city after consultation with Sunan Kalijaga. May 2 has since been celebrated as the anniversary of Semarang.
In the Dutch colonial era, Semarang developed in to one of the famous port and trade towns of the Dutch Indies. Many Dutch heritage buildings remain in Semarang, with two of the well known being the church ‘Gereja Blenduk’ and Lawang Sewu. After Indonesian independence, the development of the city became increasingly rapid. Semarang is known to be a comfortable, safe and conducive city. It has established itself as not just a trade and governance city of Central Java but one of strong growth in the size and number of universities. Amongst these is the Soegijapranata Catholic University.
Soegijapranata Catholic University (UNIKA Soegijapranata) was founded on August 5, 1982, as a continuation of the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Semarang and the Semarang Catholic Institute of Technology. Located at 100 Pandanaran Road, Bendan Duwur, UNIKA Soegijapranata was first established with the existence of three faculties: Engineering, Law, and Economics. UNIKA Soegijapranata has since grown and now offers 12 undergraduate programs and 9 Postgraduate programs- with the activities of all programs centered on the campus in Bendan Duwur. The Master programs include Management, Management Science, Environment and Urban Studies, Law with a concentration on Health Law or Professional Advocacy, Psychology Science with a concentration on Social Development and Education Psychology, Professional Psychology, Architectural Engineering focusing on urban and regional settlement architecture, and Food Technology.
Soegijapranata Catholic University is an institution of higher education subservient to the name Soegijapranata as protector of the university. Mgr. Alb. Soegijapranata, a priest and the first native archbishop, has become a national figure and hero. Born in Surakarta on November 25, 1896, he entered the Society of Jesus Mariendaal, Grave, the Netherlands, on September 27, 1920. Ordained as a priest on August 15, 1931, he was later appointed as archbishop of the Great Semarang on September 30,1940. His struggles and concerns for education are a continuation of the attitude of his teacher, Father Frans Van Lith, SJ. One of his struggles was elevating the two oldest Catholic universities, Parahyangan University, Bandung, and Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, to equal status with the state university.
Mgr. Alb. Soegijapranata was also concerned with the options for the poor, which is evident through his thinking and movements. He encouraged the formation of a socio-economic organization giving full attention to empowerment of the victims of war and to those who were simply poor.
Today, the Catholic University of Soegijapranata continues the struggles and ideals of Mgr. Alb. Soegijapranata, in line with SJ as protector of the university.