Celebrating 100 years of glory

Celebrating 100 years of glory

Mysuru, the city of palaces, is also known as the cradle of Karnataka’s art, culture and heritage. The city has  emerged as a centre of academic excellence with various educational institutions catering to the diverse needs of people. The most prominent among them is the University of Mysore, which has been imparting quality education for the last 100 years.

Though the university was founded on July 27, 1916, the seeds for this premier institution were sown way back in 1833 when Krishnaraja Wadiyar III started the Raja’s Free School to cater to the changing needs of education. In 1879, the school came to be designated as second grade college and was later rechristened as the Maharaja’s College.

The great banyan tree
Eminent economist C K Renukarya, who studied as well as taught Economics in the college, said, “Maharaja’s College is like a great banyan tree. It has protected and nourished its students like a mother.” The result is the long list of alumni who have achieved great success in their chosen path and set a model for others.

During this period, women’s education also gained importance with the support from Maharani Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. This resulted in the establishment of the Maharani’s School in 1881, which later came to be known as the Maharani’s College.

The Maharaja’s College provided strong footholds to higher learning, which culminated in the University of Mysore. In 1886, the Central College in Bangalore was started. For 30 years, both colleges were affiliated to the Madras University and there was a growing feeling that the region should have a university of its own. Sir M Visvesvaraya, who served as the Dewan of the Princely State of Mysore from 1912 to 1918, fostered the idea under the able guidance and support of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore (1902 to 1940).

Formation of committees and their recommendations preceded the establishment of the university. In July 1914, a committee, consisting of both officials and educationists, was constituted to prepare a draft of the plan. This committee relied very much on the recommendations made by C R Reddy and Thomas Denham, who were deputed to tour abroad and understand the university system in different countries. 

The beginnings
A bill in this connection was introduced in the Mysore Legislative Council in June 1916. After much discussions, it was passed unanimously on June 17 and the order was published in Mysore Gazette.

The first meeting of the university’s executive council was held on August 12, 1916. The Maharaja became the chancellor and his brother Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the Yuvaraja, was designated as the pro chancellor. H V Nanjundayya was the first vice chancellor and Thomas Denham became its registrar. A senate, which came to be constituted, convened its first meeting on October 12, 1916. The university initially worked from the Maharaja’s College, which along with the Central College at Bangalore, came under the purview of the new university. In the first year, 475 students had enrolled to different colleges of the university.

The first convocation was held on October 19, 1918 at Mysore. The chancellor presided over it. The Maharaja, in his presidential address, said, “Our university will also engage in diffusing knowledge among that section of my people who, for various reasons may not be able to participate in the courses and discipline appointed for the regular examination.

It is with this objective that the scheme provides for the establishment of extension and publication departments. I trust that the university will soon be able to develop fully this side of the activities with due regard to the practical needs of the country.”

He expected that the university will cater to the people of the remote parts of the State, who didn’t have the educational advantages of Bangalore and Mysore. The university’s atmosphere was vibrant and influenced in moulding the minds of a large number of youth in developing leadership qualities, which were hitherto hidden. It also played a vital role in refining intellectual activities including serious academics and co-curricular activities. People with keen academic excellence were invited to teach at the university.
 
The University Teachers Association extended its activities to remote parts of the State, with the ‘Extension Lectures’ programme, soon after the formation of the university. Later it became famous as the ‘Mysore Experiment’. The extension programme was linked to publication. M G Manjunatha, director, Prasaranga, University of Mysore, said that the concept of extension lecture programme, also called the ‘Upanyasa Male’, made education inclusive by taking it to larger sections of the society. During K V Puttappa’s tenure as the vice chancellor, this programme became popular. The university strived to realise the dream of its founder, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, to provide education for all and facilitate holistic learning through programmes like Adult Education Programme and Earn while you Learn.

Many luminaries, like Annie Besant and C V Raman have delivered convocation addresses at the university. All the vice chancellors have contributed to its growth, taking it to a new level. The university’s hall of fame has stalwarts like Sir M Visvesvaraya, K V Puttappa (Kuvempu), S Radhakrishnan, U R Ananthamurthy and CNR Rao.

Diverse domains
Initially, the university had 11 departments.  The department of Philosophy was the first to be established. History department, which was part of the Maharaja’s College, was much older than the university. Now the university has over 50 postgraduate departments, 2 postgraduate centres and 1 satellite centre. While realising the concept of inclusive growth, new courses, including career-oriented programmes, have been introduced. The university has also developed excellent infrastructure for curricular and co-curricular activities including sports. Manasa Gangotri, the main campus of the university, comprises facilities like amphitheatre, auditorium, student hostels and a cricket stadium.

The iconic Crawford Hall, which houses the administrative section, the Oriental Research Institute of the University, which has a great collection of books, and the Jayalakshmivilas Palace, which houses the varsity's folklore museum are some important places in the university campus.

To commemorate the centenary celebration, a theme song has been composed. While Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, inaugurated the celebrations, Indian Science Congress was convened to mark the fete. It is the wish of many that the university, which is grounded in ideals, makes a difference in the lives of its students and the society.

What began as a small institution with an aim to impart higher learning, the University of Mysore has evolved into a global varsity today, providing higher education to about a lakh students including those from other countries.

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