The university was founded under King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Ghent University was solemnly opened on October 9, 1817, and its first rector was Jean Charles Van Rotterdam. In the first year, the university had 190 students, thirteen members of staff and sixteen professors, half from the Netherlands and Germany. They were divided into four faculties: Arts, Law, Medicine and Science. The official language was Latin. Declercq obtained his PhD in Engineering Physics from Ghent University in 2005.