INSTITUTION IN FOCUS
Setting standards of excellence
UGC recognition has added to CMS College's list of merits.
Anything related to this institution is imbued with a story - of eminent persons or of important events in the Stax te's history.
And 'The College, Cotym', which today is the CMS College, Kottayam, has so many special days to remember. Saturday marked yet another special day for the college.
Steeped in history.
The status of 'College with potential for excellence' accorded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) was formally conferred on the institution at the historic Great Hall, which was the largest public hall in the princely State of erstwhile Travancore.
Established in 1817 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS), the college is the oldest in the field of higher education in South India and one of the earliest centres of English education. In the beginning, it offered subjects such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, mathematics, history and geography besides English, Malayalam, Sanskrit and Syriac.
The first principal was Benjamin Bailey, the legendary missionary who introduced printing in Travancore and brought out English-Malayalam and Malayalam-English dictionaries.
The goal, of course, was to bring the local populace, especially Syrian Christians, to modern ways. The Government of Travancore State too welcomed the institution as "a place of general education whence any demands of the State for officers to fill all department of public service would be met''. In fact, the institution had the good fortune to be blessed with the goodwill of the Maharajas of Travancore, many of whom visited the campus. The college provided free education to all till 1855, when a fee of Re. 1 was levied on all students. It was among the pioneering institutions that offered admission to girl students way back in 1913. This was discontinued five years later.
But twenty years later, the management started admitting women again. The college came under Indian hands when even the British Raj prevailed.
C.K. Thomas became the first Indian principal of the institution in 1928.
The college today offers three-year degree courses in 13 subjects, both traditional and restructured, and four semester postgraduate courses in 13 subjects. The institution was among the first in the State to be accorded five star status by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 1999.
The new status of the institution with potential for excellence helps it receive up to Rs. 1 crore during the next three years for focussed academic activities, in addition to the existing development schemes under the Plan and non-Plan sectors. "The teaching departments can take up innovative programmes on the teaching-learning process, on improving the faculty and on conducting workshops or seminars in liberal arts, science and humanities under this scheme,'' said Korula Issac, principal.
The institution has chalked out an eight-point programme to achieve the goals during the next three years, he said. The top on the list is the modernisation and improvement of the library, with focus on development of a reference library and digitalisation. The action plan also envisages strengthening of research facilities with development of infrastructure facilities, reviving existing research centres and starting of new centres. Setting up of a herbarium is also on the anvil. The action programme envisions extensive use of Information Technology in higher education, which includes networking of various departments. Implementation of student-friendly initiatives like career guidance and counselling and capacity building initiatives will be the major aims.
Photo: Johney Thomas
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