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 Institute moved back to its present site along Colon corner D. Jakoslem Streets, Cebu City.
As early as its founding, the V.I. had pioneered in education innovations to provide equal education opportunities especially the poor but deserving students. It was the first school to conduct night school classes 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 (now Department of Education) 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 (UV).
Since then, the expansion in its basic education, undergraduate and graduate offerings and in its physical facilities has been phenomenal. Don Vicente Gullas also brought education closer to the people as the school opened a total of eight satellite campuses across Cebu Province making it the private University in Cebu with the most number of external campuses.
From an initial enrollment of 37 students when it was founded, the University has evolved into an institution with an estimated enrollment of more than 20,000 students distributed throughout its campuses. Over the years, the University has also produced board exam topnotchers and distinguished alumni who have been successful in their chosen fields.