Mangaluru: University College, popularly known as Government College and also known as "Kempu Kote", has completed 150 years since its inception and it is on the eve of its 150th-year celebration. It came into existence to cater to the educational needs of the marginalized sections of Mangaluru's society. The Institution, which started as a provincial school, rose to the status of a College with academic excellence and has left a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of the people of this region.
In 1860, the presidency town, Madras being far away from Mangaluru, the benefits of higher education eluded the eager learners of the district. It was in this context that visionaries from civil society like M. Ramappa, Srinivasa Rao, Ramachandrayya, N. Gundu Raa, N. Thimmappayya, Sadat Khan, C. Rangappa, Narayana Pai and T. Muthuswami Aiyar, collected an endowment of Rs 65,000. Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, many Swamijis from Udupi Mutts and hundreds of people from South Kanara contributed generously to this endowment fund. In September 1866, under the recommendation of Powell, the then Director of Public Instruction opened the Provincial School sanctioned by the Government.
This Institution was “open to all sections of the society without any distinction of caste or creed”- a dictum that holds its strength even to this day. Female students first entered the portals of this institution in 1902 and today, the girls outnumber the boys. It was on March 18, 1905, that the institution celebrated its first annual day. The 1920s saw a surge of academic and cultural activities under the dynamic stewardship of Govinda Krishna Chettur, an academician and scholar par excellence.
The national poet Rabindranath Tagore visited this College in 1922. The then Academy hall was renamed ‘Ravindra Kala Bhavana’ in 1996, in memory of his visit. In 1948, the college was raised to the 'first-grade' status. Initially, the college was affiliated to the Madras University and subsequently, in 1957, to the Karnataka University and in 1958, to Mysore University. During the academic year 1959-60, the B.Sc. course was started and new courses in B.A. were offered.
To commemorate the hundred years of the College, a centenary building housing Departments of Physics and Mathematics was constructed in 1978 during Prof. M.A. Ramachandra Rao's time. The year 1993 saw this historic institution open yet another chapter. With a view to giving the students of the coastal region better opportunities, the Government of Karnataka handed over the College to Mangalore University by notification in July 1992. On March 7, 1993, the College was handed over by the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Veerappa Moily, prominent alumni and renamed `University College’.
The college has been granted the Heritage Status in 2015 by the University Grants Commission with financial assistance of Rs 1.83 crores- an honour befitting the stature of this prestigious institution. Further, it has been recognised by the University Grants Commission as the College with Potential for Excellence.
The success of any institution depends on pro-active management. Mangalore University has been successful in launching this institution in the right track ever since it took over the college as a “constituent college" in 1993. Cognisant of the significance of the vision of the promoters, current needs of the society and the aspirations of the students, the management is actively steering the institution to greater heights in enhancing academic excellence and developing infrastructure.
Today the institution can boast of student strength of around 1800, in four undergraduate and five postgraduate programmes. There are 51 permanent, 50 guest faculty and 20 administrative staff supplemented by ad hoc employees, contributing to quality education.
College has produced heavyweights including Jnanapith awardee Karanth
The college has produced many heavyweights in several fields. Very interestingly, Jnanapith awardee Dr Shivaram Karanth is also an alumnus of this college. Besides that, former chief minister M Veerappa Moily is also an old student of the college. The veteran poet and first Rashtrakavi title owner Manjeshwar Govinda Pai also studied in this same college. Several political heavyweights like A B Shetty, U P Mallya, Vaikunta Baliga, Ramanath Rai, Vinay Kumar Sorake, Jayaram Shetty also gained knowledge from this college. Playwright Dr D K Chowta, famous journalists M V Kamath, Santhosh Kumar Gulwady, national award winner Balakrishna Acharya, Brigadier Gokhale, Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya and others have studied here.
Hotspot of film shooting
As the college building resembles structures from the British-era, it has been used for film shootings also. It can be recalled that famous films like 'Ondu Motteya Kathe' and 'Sarakari Hi.Pra.Shaale, Kasargodu' have been shot here. As this college is celebrating its 150th year on February 6, many celebrities, including cricketer K L Rahul, film actors Arjun Kapikad, Pranav Hegde, Mime Ramdas, actress Aparna, and others are wishing the management good luck through video messages and these are doing the rounds on social media.
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