had taken, decades for the College to take shape. At the behest
of Sir Thomas Munro a Committee of public instruction was formed
in 1826. In 1836 the duties of the Committee of public instruction
was taken over by "The Committee of Native Education."
The plan drawn up by the Committee did not commend themselves to
Lord Elphinstone who in turn proposed nineteen resolutions which
were passed unanimously. The gist of the resolutions was as follows:
"That it is expedient
that a Central Collegiate Institution or University should be established
"The Madras University
to consist of two principal departments, a College for the Higher
Branches of Literature, Philosophy and Science, and a High School
for the Cultivation of English Literature and of the vernacular
languages of India and the elementary departments of Philosophy
Recognition of The Government
These proposals of Lord Elphinstone which
were afterwards known as the "Fundamental Rules" were approved
by the Members of Council and received the sanction of the Government
in January 1840.
The First Meeting of the Governing
In a month's time the governing body of the University
was formed and it held its first meeting on 8th February 1840. The
governing body requested Thiru. Mount Stuart Elphinstone to select
a suitable person for the post of Headmaster.
The First Principal
The choice of Thiru. Mount Stuart
Elphinstone fell on Mr. Eyre Burton Powell, a Cambridge Wrangler
in Mathematics, who accepted the post. Mr. Powell reached Mumbai
on the 20th Sept. 1840 and could reach Chennai only on 24th November
1840, the journey from Mumbai to Chennai occupying about four weeks.
In the meantime, the University Board had invited Mr. Cooper, from
the Hoogly College, Calcutta to carry on the duties of the Headmaster
temporarily, on a salary of Rs. 400/a month.
Thiru. Cooper accepted the invitation
and came to Chennai. He and his Staff opened the preparatory School
in a rented building in Egmore known as Edinburgh Home on 15th October
1840 which eventually grew into Presidency College. Thiru. Cooper
remained in the Preparatory School for only a few months and soon
after Thiru. Powell's arrival and before the opening of the High
School department in April 1841, he returned to Calcutta. The preparatory
School was shifted to Popham's Broadway in 1841.
The High School was opened
on 4th April 1841 in Egmore (in the Building now housing the Presidency
Magistrate Court) on the Pantheon Road, Egmore. Ten years rolled
on after the formation of the department of higher education. In
the meantime an Elementary School was also started.
Department of Collegiate Education
On 22nd April 1852 the then Governor, Fort.
St. George Sir Henry Pottinger, Constituted a body called the 'University
Board' with a President and sixteen members. In the beginning of
1853, the institution entered upon the second epoch in its history.
It underwent reorganisation and was developed downwards and upwards.
TM High School classes were rearranged, a primary school was established
and a separate collegiate department was instituted. In 1855 the
collegiate department was transferred to the newly created Department
of Public Instruction and the Institution formally received its
present name Presidency College. With the removal of ban on starting
law classes the college started law classes as well.
The year 1857 marks the beginning of the third
epoch in the history of the College. The present University of Madras
was founded in 1857. It always be a source of pride to Presidency
College that it is the mother of the University of Madras. From
1857 onwards, the College has been providing instruction in the
courses prescribed by the University.
The president and Governor of the
University of Madras wanted to provide adequate buildings for the
University. In 1864, designs for a big building to accommodate Presidency
College were called for and a prize of Rs.3000/‑ was offered
to the best design. The foundation stone a new college building
on the Marina was laid on October 1867 by His Excellency Lord Napier,
The Governor of Madras. The College took three years to build and
on its completion the opening ceremony was performed by his Royal
Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on 25th March 1870.
Shedding of Lower Classes
The lower classes posing a hindrance
to the rapid growth of the College were shed, with Elementary School
in 1856, High School in 1884 and the Law classes in 1891.
The College which had been
offering instructions at the B.A. level, started in 1911 Honours
Classes in English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry; Botany, Zoology,
Sanskrit and History. It was also at this time the College began
to provide instruction in the M.A. Degree Course. Presidency College
was the first to undertake these Honours and Post Graduate Courses
in all the subjects in the Faculty of Arts.
The next stage of development came
in 1931, the Science subjects hitherto imparted in the faculty
of Arts were dropped. Inaugurating a separate faculty of
Science and the new and better Bachelor of Science courses,
both pass and Honours were introduced.
Dr David Duncan the third Principal
of the College, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the College.
He had noted in detail the notable achievements of the Fifty
years in the College calendar published in 1891. This note
helps us to a great extent to trace the history of the College.
The Centenary of the college
was celebrated in the year 1940.It was inaugurated by his
excellency Lord Erskine, the Governor of Madras on 3rd February,
1940. A centenary memorial dome including four faces of the
Fyson clock with its musical bell to reach the whole of Tiruvallikeni
was also constructed. The clock has several unique features.
It is an electrical automatic winding clock fitted with special
automatic lighting arrangements. It is worth to mention that
it was designed by Prof. H. Parameswaran, Professor of Physics
of this college and was assembled at the department of Physics
itself with the assistance of the laboratory assistant Thiru.
developing Post Graduate and Research Work, the Intermediate Classes
were shed in 1948. The honours classes were shed in 1958. The semester
pattern introduced in 1976 was also given up in 1982.
Today the College provides
facilities for research in many faculties. A joboriented course in
Corporate Secretaryship was started in 1974-75. M.Com. was introduced
in the academic year 1976-77. MCA was started in the year 1991-92.
Vocational subject in B.sc. Physics was introduced during 1997-98
and in B.A. Economics during 1999-2000. M.Sc. Applied Microbiology
was started during 1999-2000.
The Inaugural ceremony for
the Post-Centenary Gold Jubliee was held on 05.04.1991. His Excellency
Thiru.Bhishma Narayan Singh, Governor of Tamil Nadu laid the foundation
stone for the commemoration building. The building has since been
opened and it houses the faculties for Mathematics and Computer Science.
As a premier institution of
higher studies under the Government of Tamil Nadu, Presidency College,
offers 20 PG Courses and 18 UG Courses through 24 departments almost
all of them offering research facilities leading to M.Phil, and Ph.D.
The College was granted autonomy
in 1987. It has since been possible for the College to attempt limited
curricular and examination reforms to make education meaningful and
uptodate. Continuous assessment of student's performance during the
semester and the semester - end examinations from the basis for the
award of degrees. Among the benefits of autonomy are greater student
- teacher interaction and a constant review, revision and updating
of academic programmes. However, the Degrees continue to be awarded
by the University of Madras. The Parent Teacher Association has been
functioning for the welfare of the students.
The College has been
Accredited with Four Stars by the National Assessment and Accreditation