Notable Alumni

Throughout its history, the Complutense University has produced exceptionally gifted men and women in every sphere of human endeavour, whether it be as instructors or as students Many stand out for their achievements in such diverse fields as politics, science or the arts. Here are just a few:

 

Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (Cardenal Cisneros) (1436-1517)

Confessor and advisor to Queen Isabella II and regent after her death. Founder of the Complutense University in Alcalá de Henares (1498). Promoter of the publication of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible (1517).

Elio Antonio de Nebrija (1444-1522)

Humanist and grammarian. Author of the first grammar of Castellano (1492) and collaborator with Cardinal Cisneros on the Polyglot Bible.

Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635)

Poet, novelist and the greatest Spanish theatrical author.

Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas (1580-1645)

Writer and one of the most complex figures of the Spanish Golden Age. He was well-known in all registers of the Spanish language.

Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811)

Clearest representative of the Enlightenment in Spain. He held political positions and cultivated literature, especially political essays.

Fermín Caballero  y Morgáez o Morgay (1800-1876)

Politician, writer and journalist. Interim professor of Geography and Chronology at the University of Madrid. Member of Parliament and senator, he was a member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences and the Spanish Royal Academy of History.

Manuel Colmeiro Penido (1818-1894)

Historian, lawyer and economist. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History and the Spanish Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Member of parliament, senator and prosecutor in the Supreme Court. 

Concepción Arenal Ponte (1820-1893)

Degree in Law. Initiated feminism in Spain, fought for equality of men and women in terms of equal opportunities in education for the full development of women. She was an Inspector of Female Correctional Institutions, among other positions. She wrote texts about Penal Law that were internationally avant-garde at the time. She also worked in developing journalism, poetry, novels and theatre.

Marcos Jiménez de la Espada (1831-1898)

Assistant professor of Natural History and professor of Compared Anatomy. Member of the Pacific Scientific Commission. He was one of the founders of the Spanish Society of Natural History and the Geography Society in Madrid.

Emilio Castelar y Ripoll (1832-1899)

Professor of Spanish History. Great parliamentary speaker. President of the First Republic. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language and History.

José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832-1916)

Professor of Mathematical Physics. Minister of Finance. Nobel Prize for Literature (1904).

Nicolás Salmerón y Alonso (1838-1908)

Professor of Mathematical Physics. Minister of Finance. Nobel Prize for Literature (1904).

Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1839-1915)

Professor of Philosophy of Law and International Law. Intellectual and pedagogue, founder of the Free Institution of Education.

Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921)

First woman to be a professor of Neo-Latin Literature at the Central University of Madrid. Novelist, journalist, feminist, essayist, literary critic, poet, playwright, translator, publisher, talker on the introduction of naturalism in Spain. Her ideas about the rights of women and feminism were ahead of her time. She demanded female education be fundamental and dedicated a large part of her public activity fighting for this. One of her most well-known literary works is the novel “Los pazos de Ulloa” (1886).

Luis Simarro Lacabra (1851-1921)

Professor of Experimental Psychology, he was the first professor of Psychology in Spain and is, therefore, considered the founding father of Psychology by all Spanish psychologists. He was also interested in the relationship between psychiatry and penal law and he participated in the foundation of the School of Criminology of Madrid.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934)

Professor of Normal Histology and Histochemistry and Pathological Anatomy in the Faculty of Medicine. Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine (1906).

Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1869-1968)

Professor of Romanesque Philology. Historian and philologist. Director of the Spanish Royal Academy (1925-1939).

Julián Besteiro Fernández (1870-1940)

Professor of Fundamental Logic in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature. President of the Parliament (1931-1933) Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature (1936-1939).

Florestán Aguilar y Rodríguez (1872-1934)

Eminent dentist. Dentist for the Royal Household from 1900. His relationship of trust with King Alfonso XIII helped convince him to construct the Ciudad Universitaria (University City).

María Goyri y Goyri (1873-1955)

Philologist, writer, researcher in the field of Spanish literature and teacher. Second Spanish woman to study at university. She graduated and earned her doctorate in Philosophy and Literature, and formed part of the avant-garde movement defending women’s rights. Her studies of Spanish romanceros, alongside her husband Ramón Menéndez Pidal, laid the foundations for research in this field.

Blas Cabrera y Felipe (1878-1945)

Doctor of Physical Sciences. Professor of Electricity and Magnetism. Director of the Laboratory of Physics Research (1911). President of the Spanish Society of Physics and Chemistry (1916). First director of the National Institute of Physics and Chemistry (1932-1937). Member of the 6th Scientific Committee in Paris at the request of Marie Curie and Albert Einstein (1928). Rector of the Central University of Madrid (1929). President of the Academy of Sciences of Madrid (1934-1937). Secretary of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (1933-1941). Teacher of Atomic Physics and History of Physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (1941). First Spanish experimental physicist, and co-creator of a school of magnetism in Spain.

Fernando de los Ríos Urruti (1879-1949)

Professor of Political Science and Political Law in the Faculty of Law. Minister of Justice (1931), Minister of Public Education and Fine Arts (1932) and Minister of State (1933). In 1940, he became professor of Political Law and Political History of Latin America and Spain at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Manuel Azaña Díaz (1880-1940)

Doctor of Law. President of the Second Republic.

José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)

Philosopher and essayist. Doctor of Philosophy and professor of Metaphysics (1910). Founder of the “Revista de Occidente” (1923).

Tomás Navarro Tomás (1884-1979)

Doctor of Philosophy and Literature. Founder and director of the Laboratory of Experimental Phonetics. Director of the “Archivo de la Palabra” and the “Atlas Lingüístico de la Península Ibérica”. Professor of Phonetics in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy (1934) at the request of Menéndez Pidal. Director of the National Library (1936-1939). In 1939, he was exiled to USA and became a professor of Spanish Philology at Columbia, Stanford and Puerto Rico University, among others. Honoris Causa Doctor at Middlebury College (Vermont) (1940).

Américo Castro Quesada (1885-1972)

Philologist, historian and literary critic. Professor of Language and Literature. In 1909, the Centre of Historical Studies was created and Castro was the instigator. He carried out a large part of his research work here. He was exiled to the United States where he taught at Princeton and San Diego University until 1964 when he returned to Spain.

Manuel García Morente (1886-1942)

Philosopher. In 1912, he became professor of Ethics at the University of Madrid and from then he focused on teaching. In 1930, he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Public Education and, in 1932, he was appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature where he became the creator of the new Faculty on the grounds of Ciudad Universitaria. After the start of the Civil War in 1936, he was removed from his role at the University of Madrid and returned to Spain in 1938. He was a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Gregorio Marañón y Posadillo (1887-1960)

Doctor and writer. Degree in Medicine, doctor and professor of Endocrinology. Founder of the Institute of Medical Pathology, President of the Institute of Experimental and Academic Endocrinology.

Julio Rey Pastor (1888-1962)

Mathematician. Co-founder of the Spanish Mathematics Society (1911), of which he was also secretary. Professor of Analysis. From 1917 he lived in Buenos Aires, where he was a professor in the Faculty of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires until his death.

Clara Campoamor Rodríguez (1888-1972)

Writer and politician. Degree in Law. Pioneer of feminism. Lawyer and member of parliament, defended women’s right to vote.

Juan Negrín López (1892-1956)

Scientist. Professor of Physiology. Minister of Finance (1936) and President of the Government of the Second Republic (1937-1939).

Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz y Menduiña (1893-1984)

Historian. Doctor of Philosophy and Literature and professor of Ancient and Medieval History. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History (1926). Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature (1931). Rector of the Central University of Madrid (1932-1934). Participated in the creation of the Centre of Historical Studies. Member of parliament. State Minister (1933) and ambassador to Portugal (1936). He founded the Institute of Spanish History and the magazine “Cuadernos de Historia de España” (1944). He continued his political activity while in exile as the President of the Spanish Republican Government in Exile (1962-1970). He was Honoris Causa Doctor at the universities of Bordeaux, Ghent, Tübingen, Lima, Buenos Aires, Oviedo, Valladolid, Lisbon and member of the main European and American academies. The Accademia dei Lincei awarded him the Feltrinelli International Gran Prix (1970). He returned to Spain in 1983. Prince of Asturias Prize for Communication and Humanities (1984).

Miguel Catalán Sañudo (1894-1957)

Discoverer of the multipletes in the spectrum of the arc of manganese Researcher at Imperial College London (1920). In 1926, he received the Award from the Spanish Royal Academy of Science and in 1930 he won the International Belfort Award. Head of the Department of Spectroscopy at the Institute of Physics and Chemistry (Rockefeller Foundation) in Madrid (1930). Professor of Atomic-Molecular Structures and Spectroscopy (1934). From 1950 he served as Director of the Department of Spectrums at the Institute of Optics of Madrid (CSIC). He worked as a guest in the laboratories of the National Bureau of Standards (Washington), at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1970, a crater on the Moon was named after him for his contribution to Astrophysics.

Carlos Jiménez Díaz (1898-1957)

Spanish philologist and writer and professor of Romanesque Philology. He succeeded Menéndez Pidal as editor of the “Revista de Filología Española”. Visiting professor at several foreign universities (Berlin, California, Stanford, Cambridge, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, etc.) and Honoris Causa Doctor at the universities of Bordeaux, Costa Rica, Hamburg, Lima, Massachusetts, Oxford, Leeds, Rome, Lisbon and Granada. Director of the Spanish Royal Academy (1968-1982). National Prize for Literature (1927) and Miguel de Cervantes Prize (1978), among many others.

Xavier Zubiri Apalategui (1898-1983)

Philosopher. Doctor of Philosophy and professor of History of Philosophy in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature. In 1982, Zubiri received the Ramón y Cajal Prize for Research alongside Severo Ochoa.

Victoria Kent Siano (1898-1987)

She has a degree in Law and was the first woman to be a member of the College of Lawyers of Madrid (1924). Member of parliament and Director General of Prisons

Dámaso Alonso y Fernández de las Redondas (1898-1990)

Spanish philologist and writer and professor of Romanesque Philology. He succeeded Menéndez Pidal as editor of the “Revista de Filología Española”. Visiting professor at several foreign universities (Berlin, California, Stanford, Cambridge, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, etc.) and Honoris Causa Doctor at the universities of Bordeaux, Costa Rica, Hamburg, Lima, Massachusetts, Oxford, Leeds, Rome, Lisbon and Granada. Director of the Spanish Royal Academy (1968-1982). National Prize for Literature (1927) and Miguel de Cervantes Prize (1978), among many others.

José Gaos y González Pola (1900-1969)

Philosopher. Doctor of Philosophy and professor of Introduction to Philosophy and Teaching Human Sciences. Rector of the Central University of Madrid (1936). General Commissioner of Spain at the Paris International Exposition (1937). He was exiled to Mexico in 1938 and was professor of Philosophy at La Casa de España (College of Mexico) and Extraordinary Professor at UNAM. Honoris Causa Doctor at UNAM (1953).

Ramón Castroviejo Briones (1904-1987)

Ophthalmologist. Doctor of Medicine. Pioneer of cornea transplants.

María Zambrano Alarcón (1904-1991)

Thinker, philosopher and essayist. Assistant teacher of Metaphysics (1931). Assistant teacher of Philosophy. Prince of Asturias Prize (1981) and Cervantes Prize (1988), among others.

Severo Ochoa de Albornoz (1905-1993)

Degree in Medicine. Biochemist and Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine (1959).

José Luis López Aranguren (1909-1996)

Philosopher. Professor of Ethics. Expelled from the University for disagreeing with and opposing Francoism. He left Spain for a few years and became a professor at the universities of Berkeley and Mexico and other educational centres. Prince of Asturias Prize for Communication and Humanities (1995).

José Antonio Maravall Casesnoves (1917-1986)

Historian of ideas, philosopher and essayist. Doctor of Law and Political Sciences and Economics. Professor of Political Law and Theory of Society. Professor of History of Political and Social Thought in Spain at the Faculty of Political Science and Economics. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History (1961). Associate professor at the Sorbonne. Honoris Causa Doctor at the universities of Toulouse and Bordeaux.

José Luis Sampedro Sáez (1917-2013)

Writer. Professor of Economic Policy. In 1969-1970 he was exiled to the universities of Liverpool and Salford in the United Kingdom. Senator by Royal appointment (1977-1979). Member of the Spanish Royal Academy (1990).

Enrique Tierno Galván (1918-1986)

Doctor of Law and Philosophy and Literature and professor of Political Law. Expelled from the University for disagreeing with and opposing Francoism. Mayor of Madrid (1979-1986).

Julián Gállego Serrano (1919-2006)

Professor of History of Art. Art critic. Member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts (1987). He was a disciple of Pierre Francastel at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris where he worked as a researcher.

José María Jover Zamora (1920-2006)

Professor of Contemporary and Academic History. He was an influential figure in developing contemporary Spanish historiography, introducing new European historiography trends. In 2000, he was awarded the XIV Menéndez Pelayo International Prize.

Fernando Lázaro Carreter (1923-2004)

Linguist and literary critic. Doctor of Romanesque Philology, professor of Theory of Literature and Professor Emeritus. Director of the Spanish Royal Academy (1991-1998).

Adolfo Suárez González (1932-2014)

Lawyer and politician. Doctor of Law. President of the Government (1977-1982). Key figure in the Spanish transition, he has also won numerous awards, distinctions and commemorations.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza (1934- )

Pharmacist, professor, poet and politician. Professor of Biochemistry. Minister of Education and Science (1981-1982). Director-General of UNESCO (1987-1999). Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. Member of multiple national and international organisations and academies. He currently heads the International Committee against the Death Penalty. He has several distinctions and awards.

Alberto Galindo Tixaire (1934- )

Spanish theoretical physicist, pioneer of Theoretical Physics in Spain. Professor of Theoretical Physics. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences (1977). Santiago Ramón y Cajal National Award for Research (1985). Researcher at institutions including the Nuclear Energy Board, CERN in Geneva and the Department of Physics at UCLA. Member of several international scientific institutions, he has also won numerous awards and distinctions.

Miguel de Guzmán Ozámiz (1936-2004)

Mathematician, university professor and professor of Mathematical Analysis. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences (1982). Chairman of the ICMI (International Commission of Mathematical Instruction) (1991-1998). Professor at universities including Chicago, San Luis and Princeton.

Mario Vargas Llosa (1936- )

Peruvian writer, doctor of Romanesque Philology, he is considered one of the most important contemporary novelists and essayists. His work has won several awards including the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature (1986), the Planeta Prize (1993), the Cervantes Prize (1994), the Nobel Prize for Literature (2010). He is a member of the Spanish Royal Academy and Honoris Causa Doctor at several universities.

Margarita Salas Falgueras (1938- )

Biochemist, molecular biologist and researcher, and university professor. Disciple of Doctor Severo Ochoa. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy. She was the first Spanish woman to be inducted into the United States National Academy of Sciences and has received several other acknowledgements. She is an Honoris Causa Doctor at several universities, has won numerous awards and prizes including the Echegaray Medal from the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences in 2016. This is the highest scientific honour this institution grants, and it was created at the request of Santiago Ramón y Cajal in 1905 after granting the Nobel Prize to José Echegaray. Salas was the first woman to receive this award and it has only been awarded 14 times in over 100 years.

José Estébanez Álvarez (1941-1997)

Professor of Geography. Dean of the Faculty of Geography and History (1986-1990).

Javier Solana de Madariaga (1942- )

Physicist, politician, ambassador and professor. Degree in Physical Sciences and professor of Physics. He has held several political positions including Minister of Education and Science (1988-1992), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-1995), General Secretary of OTAN (1995-1999) and Head of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union (1999). He has several distinctions and awards. In 2007, he received the Carlomango Award which distinguishes people for services to the unity and progress of Europe and their contribution to peace. He currently works in the ESADE Business School as Professor of Democratic Leadership and Governance.

José María Maravall Herrero (1942- )

Sociologist and politician. Degree in Law and doctorate in Sociology from the University of Oxford. Professor of Sociology. Minister of Education and Science in the first socialist Spanish government (1982-1988).

Juan Pablo Fusi Aizpurúa (1945- )

Historian specialising in Spanish Contemporary History and, in particular, nationalism and the Basque Country. Professor of Contemporary History. Director of the National Library (1986-1990). In 2014, he was elected as a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History.

Javier Tusell Gómez (1945-2005)

Historian, professor, writer and politician. Doctor of History. During his time as Director General of Artistic Heritage, Archives and Museums (1979-1982) he worked on returning the “Guernica” to Spain.

Alberto Bernabé Pajares (1946- )

Philologist known for his studies about Orphism, the archaic Greek epic, textual criticism and Indo-European linguistics.  Professor of Greek Philology. President of the Spanish Society of Linguistics (1998-2002) and President of the Study Centre of the Near East since 2003.

Fernando Fernández-Savater Martín (1947- )

Philosopher, essayist, journalist, novelist and playwright. In 2013, he was regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the world. Professor of Philosophy, friend and disciple of French philosopher Emile Michel Cioran. He has received several awards and recognitions including the Spanish National Essay Award and the Anagrama Award (1982), the Planeta Prize (1993) and most recently he won the Eulalio Ferrer International Award, in 2015. He is an Honoris Causa Doctor at several universities and a Knight of the French Order of Merit.

José Manuel Sánchez Ron (1949- )

Physicist and historian of science. Degree in Physical Sciences. Member of the Spanish Royal Academy and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, whose headquarters have been located in Salzburg since 2003. In 2005, he was named as a member of the International Academy of History of Science in Paris. He is also a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences (2006).

Cristina García Rodero (1949- )

She has a degree in Fine Arts and started her teaching career in 1974 giving classes at the School of Arts and Trades in Madrid. From 1983 to 2007 she gave photography classes in the Faculty of Fine Arts. She has combined her teaching with photography and has collaborated on various Spanish and foreign periodicals. She was the first Spanish woman to form part of the photojournalist agency Magnum. In 2013, she was elected as a Member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She has won numerous awards as a professional photographer.

Agustín Díaz Yanes (1950- )

Film director, scriptwriter and novelist. Degree in Philosophy and Literature. In 1996, she received the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay Awards for “Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto” at the Goya Awards.

Mariano Barbacid Montalbán (1950- )

Doctor of Biochemistry, he managed to isolate a mutated human gene that can cause cancer for the first time. He was Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (1998) and has received numerous awards, with the latest being the Echegaray Medal in 2018.

Mercedes Cabrera Calvo-Sotelo (1951- )

Doctor of Political and Social Sciences and professor of History of Thought and Social Movements. Minister of Education and Science, Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport in the socialist government (2006-2009).

Javier Marías Franco (1951- )

Writer, translator and editor. Degree in English Philology (1973). Member of the Spanish Royal Academy since 2008. He has won several awards, with the latest being the “Premio de la Crítica” (2017) for his most recent book “Berta Isla”.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (1951- )

Doctor of Chemical Sciences and tenured professor of Organic Chemistry. He held the position of General Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party from 2012 to 2014 and several ministerial positions in different socialist governments. He was First Deputy Prime Minister of the Spanish Government from 2010 to 2011.

Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras (1954- )

Palaeoanthropologist, doctor of Biological Sciences and professor of Palaeontology at the Faculty of Geological Sciences. Since July 2013 he has been Scientific Director at the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. Since 1982, he has been a member of the research team investigating the Pleistocene sites in the Atapuerca Mountains (Burgos) which won the Prince of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Research in 1997. In 2002, he was named as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. He has won numerous awards and holds internationally prestigious positions.

Baltasar Garzón Real (1955- )

A lawyer who has investigated some of the major crimes committed in Spain: crimes against humanity, terrorism, State terrorism, drug trafficking, political corruption and economic crime. He is an Honoris Causa Doctor at the University of Jaen and at 20 other universities around the world.

Juan Ignacio Cirac Sasturain (1965- )

Doctor of Physical Sciences who is known for his research into quantum computing and quantum optics within quantum theory and theoretical physics. Director of the Theoretical Division at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Germany.  He is an Honoris Causa Doctor at several Spanish universities and has received several awards including the Prince of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Research (2006) and the Max Planck Medal (2018).

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (1972- )

Degree in Information Sciences. Queen of Spain.


Antonio de Nebrija

Antonio de Nebrija (1441 - 1522)

 

Julián Besteiro

Julián Besteiro (1870 - 1940)