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INSTITUTION IN FOCUS

Academic haven

The Bishop Heber College, which was recently awarded the Five Star status, has set its eyes on attaining autonomy and is moving towards becoming a deemed university. INSTITUTION IN FOCUS



Classrooms with a view — The Bishop Heber College. — Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam

WITH WELL laid out lush green gardens and ultra modern buildings, the Bishop Heber College in Tiruchi would easily qualify as one of the most beautiful campuses in the south. So much so that the premier educational institute in the region is known as, `Beauty Bishop' among students of Tiruchi. The institution has its roots in the erstwhile S.P.G. College. But for its merger with the Madras Christian College and consequent closure in 1934, the college would have been among the oldest educational institutions of Tiruchi.

Its origin began in 1762 when Christian Frederick Schwartz, the first German missionary, established a school near the famous Rock Fort. The Heber Memorial School gradually grew in stature and became a High School in 1864, a second grade college in 1873 and a first grade college in 1883. The college introduced Honours courses in History and Mathematics as early as 1925 before being merged with the MCC. The college was revived in 1966 after three decades on the initiative of a section of the City residents, led by the then Bishop of Tiruchi-Thanjavur Diocese, Rt. Rev. Solomon Duraisamy.

With M. Sargurudoss of the MCC as the first principal, the college functioned at Teppakulam before moving to its present campus at Puthur in 1968 offering degree courses in History, Economics and Mathematics. The college has never looked back ever since as it grew in academic excellence and popularity. With liberal support of the Protestant Central Agency for Cooperation in Development, Bonn, several new buildings came up on its campus.

The college witnessed meteoric growth after D. Swamiraj, now the Director of the institution, took over as principal in 1974. Between 1976 and 1982, several new courses were introduced including B.A. English, Tamil, B.Sc. Botany, M.A. English, Tamil and Social Work. The M.Sc. Mathematics was converted into M.Sc. Applied Mathematics with specialisation in Operational Research. During the period, several new buildings were added to the campus. In 1984, the college became the first arts and science college in the country to offer M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences. The college extended its focus to research with the introduction of M. Phil and Ph.D programmes. The 1980s also saw the college taking to computer education in a big way, which culminated with the commissioning of a state-of-the-art Computer Science Block with over 200 terminals in 2000. The block and the college garden `Vasantham,' remain the pride of the campus.

The institution is also said to be the only college in the country to offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Actuarial Science. The Master of Library and Information Science is another unique programme offered by the college. The Students Service Centre, the well-stocked library, the four-storeyed P.G. Block and other imposing structures of the college make it truly an academic haven for students. The Students Service Centre guides the students in placements and provides extensive information and counselling on career opportunities. It also conducts personality development, language and other coaching programmes. The Heber Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies is another important wing devoted to environmental causes. The college also has an arboretum with 71 specimens of trees and plants, including several endangered varieties. The college, with about 5,000 students and 450 teaching and non-teaching staff, was awarded the `Five Stars' status by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. The institution has now set its eyes on attaining autonomy and is moving towards becoming a deemed university.

S. Ganesan

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