University of Madras

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University of Madras
சென்னைப் பல்கலைக்கழகம்
4 Madras University.JPG
Motto கற்றணைத்தூறும் அறிவும் ஆற்றலும்
Doctrina Vim Promovet Insitam
Motto in English
Learning Promotes Natural Talent
Established 1857
Type Public
Chancellor Konijeti Rosaiah
Vice-Chancellor Prof. R.Thandavan
Students 4,819
Undergraduates 67
Postgraduates 3,239
Location Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E / 13.08389°N 80.27000°E / 13.08389; 80.27000Coordinates: 13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E / 13.08389°N 80.27000°E / 13.08389; 80.27000
Campus Urban
Colors      Cardinal
Mascot Lion
Affiliations UGC, NAAC, AIU
Madras University Logo.gif

The University of Madras (Tamil: சென்னைப் பல்கலைக்கழகம்; informally known as Madras University) is a public state university in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.[1] Established in 1857, it is one of the oldest and premier universities in India. The university was incorporated by an act of the Legislative Council of India.[2]

It is a collegiate research university and has six campuses in the city viz., Chepauk, Marina, Guindy, Taramani, Maduravoyal and Chetpet. The university has 68 teaching and research departments grouped under 18 schools, covering languages, humanities, science, technology and medicine.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council has conferred 'five star' accreditation to the university and it has been given the status of 'University with Potential for Excellence' by the University Grants Commission.[3]


Vice Chancellors[4]
Six prize students for the year 1865 from the University of Madras
The Madras University Senate House and Marina Beach, 1905
T. Schaya Iangar, a Madras University Professor, taken in the 1860s by a photographer from the Madras School of Industrial Arts

The first ever demand for higher education in Madras Presidency was given in a public address to Lord John Elphinstone, Governor of Madras, signed by 70,000 residents when the Governor in Council was contemplating "some effective and liberal measures for the establishment of an improved system of national education." This public petition, which was presented by the Advocate General Mr. George Norton on 11 November 1839, pressed the need for an English college in the city of Madras. Pursuant to this, Lord Elphinstone evolved a plan for the establishment of a central collegiate institution or a ‘university.’ This university had twin departments – a high school for the cultivation of English literature, regional language, philosophy and science, and a college for instruction in the higher branches of literature, philosophy and science.

The University Board was constituted in January 1840 with Mr. George Norton as its President. This was the precursor of the present Presidency College, Chennai. A systematic educational policy for India was formulated 14 years later by Wood's despatch, which pointed out the rationale for "creating a properly articulated system of education from the primary school to the University." The Dispatch recommended the establishment in the universities of Professorships "for the purposes of the delivery of lectures in various branches of learning including vernacular as well as classical languages." As a result the University of Madras, organized on the model of the University of London, was incorporated on 5 September 1857 by an Act of the Legislative Council of India.

The university progressed and expanded through the 19th century to span the whole of South India, giving birth to universities like Mysore University (1916), Osmania University (1908), Andhra University (1926), Annamalai University (1929), Travancore University (1937) presently University of Kerala, Sri Venkateswara University (1954), Madurai Kamaraj University (1966), Bharathidasan University (1982), Bharathiar University (1982), Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (1990), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (1971), Anna University (1978), Tamil University (1981), Mother Teresa Women's University (1984), Dr. M.G.R. Medical University (1989), Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (1989), Periyar University (1997) and Dr. Ambedkar Law University (1996).

In 1912 endowments were made to the university to establish departments of Indian History, Archaeology, Comparative Philology and Indian Economics. In that year the university had 17 departments, 30 teachers, and 69 research scholars. Later the research and teaching functions of the university were encouraged by the Sadler Commission and the gains of the University were consolidated by the enactment of the Madras University Act of 1923.

Between 1926 and 1939, the university published the comprehensive Tamil Lexicon dictionary, which is the first among the dictionaries published in any Indian language.[5]

Coat of arms[edit]

The description of the Coat of Arms of the university, designed in 1857, is:

"Argent (silver or white) on a Mount issuant from the basement a Tiger passant proper (walking and coloured naturally), on a Chief Sable (black across the top), a Pale Or (a gold or yellow vertical strip down the centre 1/3 of the top or chief), thereon, between two Elephants heads couped of the field, a lotus flower leaved and slipped of the third, together with this motto Doctrina Vim Promovet Insitam".

The coat of arms colours are: the base is light green, the tiger is yellow on a white background, the elephant is grey on a black background, the lotus is a white flower with olive green leaves, on a gold background. The motto scroll is edged red, with black lettering. The English translation of the motto of the University of Madras is: "Learning promotes natural talent."


University of Madras Entrance Arch at Chepauk Campus

The university departments are mainly located in Chepauk, Guindy, Marina and Taramani.

  • Chepauk campus: School of Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, School of Economics, School of Philosophy and Religious Thought, School of Political and International Studies, School of Fine and Performance Arts, School of English and Foreign Languages, School of Management Studies, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, School of Information and Communication Studies.
  • Guindy campus: School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, School of Chemical Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, School of Life Sciences, National Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
  • Marina campus: School of Tamil and other Dravidian Languages, School of Sanskrit and other Indian Languages.
  • Taramani campus: School of Basic Medical Sciences, National Centre for Ultra fast Processes.
In Senate House: A view of the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1937.

Senate House[edit]

The University of Madras has a historical monument – Senate House – which is one of the landmarks of the city of Chennai. The Senate House, the University's first building, inaugurated in the year 1879, is a masterpiece of Robert Fellowes Chisholm, an architect of the 19th century, who blended the Indo-Saracenic style with Byzantine and European architectural features. The university renovated the Senate House in 2006.

Affiliated Colleges and Research Institutions[edit]

Affiliated Colleges[edit]

Research Institutions[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Madras University has a strong alumni network with its alumni taking over many prestigious positions across the world. Some of the prominent alumni include Nobel laureates C. V. Raman[6] and S. Chandrasekhar,[7] mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan and S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan, Former presidents Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, R. Venkataraman and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Politicans Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, C Subramaniam, CN Annadurai, P. Subbarayan, Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, V. K. Krishna Menon, public service officers Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and T. N. Seshan, innovators Verghese Kurien and M. S. Swaminathan, Economist C. K. Prahalad, Business people Indra Nooyi and Kalanithi Maran, cinema actors and directors M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan and Mani Ratnam, Viswanathan Anand, Vijay Amritraj and Ramanathan Krishnan.


  • C. W. Thamotharampillai from Jaffna was the first graduate of the University of Madras. He, along with a fellow student from Jaffna, Daniel Caroll Vyramuttu Visuvanathapillai, were the only two who sat for the University's final B.A. exams in 1857, and both passed the exams to become the first graduates of the University of Madras. Thamotharampillai scored higher marks and was placed first, so is considered the first graduate of the University.[8]
  • Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi became the first Indian woman to get a medical degree from the University of Madras in 1912. She went on to establish the cancer institute of Adyar.[9]
  • Cadambi Minakshi, Indian historian and expert on Pallava history. In 1936, she became the first woman to get a doctorate from the University of Madras.
  • Sir S Subramania Iyer became the first recipient of an honorary degree from the Madras University when he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law in 1908.
  • The fictional character Mohinder Suresh in a popular TV show Heroes was a professor of genetics at the University of Madras before moving to New York to investigate his father's death and continue his research.[10]


In 2011, the University Grants Commission selected the university as a university with potential for excellence, under which the university gets INR 250 million (INR 25 crore). The university had been selected under phase 1 of the scheme in 2001-02 along with a few other universities in the country. UGC has identified the school of geology and the school of zoology of the university as centres of excellence and has allotted INR 32.5 million (INR 3.25 crore) each for their development. The university is planning to use the funds to buy equipment and improve infrastructure.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Vice Chancellors". University of Madras. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Kolappan, B. (22 June 2014). "Delay, howlers in Tamil Lexicon embarrass scholars". The Hindu (Chennai: The Hindu). Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "After earning a master’s degree in physics at Presidency College, University of Madras, in 1907, Raman became an accountant in the finance department of the Indian government."
  7. ^ "Chandra studied at Presidency College, University of Madras, and he wrote his first research paper",
  8. ^ Muthaiah, S (9 August 2004). "Madras Miscellany". Historian (The Hindu). 
  9. ^ Muthaiah, S (18 February 2002). "Madras Miscellany". Historian (The Hindu). 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "UGC selects Madras univ as potential centre of excellence, grants Rs 25 cr". The Times of India epaper (Chennai: The Times Group). 29 Dec 2011. Retrieved 30 Dec 2011. 

External links[edit]