The Epirus region was filled with historical memories, since the Greek people had preserved their cultural traditions and had contributed to the crystallization of a national consciousness. Throughout the Ottoman rule, Ioannina managed to maintain its cultural independence and pave the way for a national uprising. However, Ioannina as well as the Epirus region was not annexed into the Greek state until 1912-13. The people of Epirus suffered even more during the years of World War II, the Axis Occupation of Greece, and the Greek Civil War. Nevertheless, they found the strength to endure and claim their rightful position among Greek society.
Efforts for the establishment of a university date back to the late pre-revolution period. At that time, prominent Epirot intellectuals had ventured to establish university schools in the region.
Following the foundation of the Society for Epirot Studies (1954), the request for the establishment of a Higher Education Institution, which would affirm Epirus’ cultural background and would promote the city of Ioannina and the wider region in every aspect, held strong.
In 1962, a Central Committee for the Foundation of a University in Ioannina was established in Athens. Its sole purpose was to effectively assert and broadly promote the Epirots’ fair request for the foundation of a third University or independent post-educational theoretical or technical schools in Ioannina. In one of its proclamations in July 1962, the Committee called on every official and unofficial authority, and every Epirot citizen, to take action for the realization of the above request.
In 1964, an educational reform changed the organization and administration of schools. Under this reform, the establishment of a Department of the School of Philosophy in Ioannina, as a branch of the same School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was announced in the daily press on 8 May 1964. The Department was founded under Royal Decree 735/64 and opened in 1964-65 academic year with two hundred students. It was initially housed in the old building of the Zosimaia School of Ioannina. A wing of this building, then belonging to the 406 General Military Hospital, was conceded by the army to cover the first administrative and teaching needs. For the same reason, the great hall of the Academy was turned into a classroom. The Department was officially opened in 7 November 1964..
The first faculty members had to run the Department themselves, which was a hard task that entailed great responsibility.
- In the second 1965-66 academic year, the Department moved to the new teaching building that was intended to house the Technical School of Ioannina. Georgios Mylonas, the then Alternate Minister for Presidency, Alternate Minister for Education replacing Loukis Akritas, who had passed away, worked towards the relocation of the Department and promoted the development and establishment of a campus in the Dourouti monastery region.
- The Department of Mathematics, which belonged to the School of Science of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki under Royal Decree 223/66, was founded in 1966.
- In 1970, an independent Higher Education Institution was founded in Ioannina, under Legislative Decree 746/70. The Department of Physics was founded under the same decree, comprising the School of Physics-Mathematics together with the Department of Mathematics.
- In 1976, the Department of Chemistry was founded under Presidential Decree 723/76, and welcomed its first students in the 1977-78 academic year.
- The School of Medicine was founded in 1977 under Law 63/77.
- The Departments of Primary Education (P.E.) and Pre-School Education were founded in 1982 under Law 1268/82.
- The School of Sciences was founded in 1983 under Presidential Decree 128/83 and comprised of three (3) Departments: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
- The Department of Primary Education opened in 1984.
- In 1984, the School of Philosophy was divided into three Departments: the Department of Philology, the Department of History and Archaeology and the Department of Philosophy, Education and Psychology (P.D. 445/84).
- The Department of Pre-School Education first opened in 1987.
- The Department of Computer Sciences was founded in 1990 under P.D. 148/90 as part of the School of Science, and opened in the 1993-94 academic year.
- The School of Education was founded in 1996 under P.D. 406/95 and comprised of the Department of Primary Education and Pre-School Education.
- The Department of Economics, founded under P.D. 364/96, opened in the 1998-99 academic year.
- The School of Natural Resources and Business Administration was founded under P.D. 96/98 in Agrinio, comprising of two Departments: the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Administration and the Department of Agricultural Business Administration, which was renamed to Department of Business Administration of Food and Agricultural Enterprises under P.D. 110/2006. The School is supervised by the Senate of the University of Ioannina until its independence.
- Three new Departments opened in 1999: a) the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the 1999-2000 academic year, founded under P.D. 207/99 as Department of Materials Science and Technology and renamed to Department of Materials Science and Engineering under P.D. 26/2009; b) the Department of Biological Applications and Technology (P.D. 207/99; and c) the Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences (P.D. 85/2000).
- The School of Science and Technology was founded in 2002 and incorporated the Department of Materials Science and Technology, now the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Department of Biological Applications and Technology (P.D. 182/2002).