The first ever college in Ethiopian history was established in today’s Science Faculty (Arat Kilo Campus) in 1943 and the name “Addis Ababa University College” was coined by Dr. Lucien Mat who subsequently served the University College as a president during the first 12 years. Emperor Haile Selassie I inaugurated the University College on the 1st of December 1943(E.C).
It was inaugurated during a special ceremony by the blessing of the then Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Baselius and an opening speech of the Emperor. The next day, December 2, 1943, classes started officially with 9 instructors and 71 students.
In the beginning, there were only two-year certificate programmes in the fields of natural and social sciences (Science and Arts) but some years latter the University College gained its own charter (Negarit Gazetta, No. 185, July 1947) and it started four-year degree programmes. The first ever Degree in Ethiopia was granted to 13 qualified graduates of the AAUC, 10 of them got Bachelor of Arts (B. A.) Degree in General Studies and the rest three B. A. Degree in Education. Along with its Certificate and Diploma programmes, the Science Faculty launched a Degree programme and granted the first ever Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree to 6 Biology graduates in 1950.
During the first 10 years since its establishment, AAUC graduated 421 students: 235 with Bachelor Degree and 196 with Diplomas and Certificates. All the five colleges were combined later to a single administration structure and the Haile Selassie I University (HSIU) was established in 1954. In 8 December 1954, at a ceremony attended by representatives from the Universities of Paris, Sweden, Belgrade, Vienna, Kwame Nkrumah, Utah, New York Columbia and Michigan, the Emperor bestowed the ´ Guenete Leul Palace and all the buildings in the palace ground to be a university campus.
The first President of the HSIU was Dejazmach Kassa WoldeMariam who was very popular amongst the then university staff. Subsequent presidents were Dr. Aklilu Habtewold till the 1966 Ethiopian Revolution and Dr. Taye Gulilat from August 1966 till March 1969. The University was then renamed as Addis Ababa University and was presided by Dr. Duri Mohammed, Dr. Abiy Kifle, Prof. Alemayehu Tefera and Prof. Mogessie Ashenafi from 1969 till 1992.