St. Stephen's College, Delhi

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St. Stephen's College
Ssc badge.jpg
Motto Latin: Ad Dei Gloriam
Motto in English
"To the Glory of God"
Established 1881
Principal Reverend Valson Thampu
Location University Enclave, New Delhi, India
Campus Urban
Colours      Martyr's Red
     Cambridge Blue
Nickname SSC
Affiliations University of Delhi

St. Stephen's College is a constituent college of the University of Delhi located in Delhi, India. It is a Christian college under Church of North India and one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges for arts and sciences in India, producing a line of distinguished alumni. It was established by the Cambridge Mission to Delhi. The college admits both undergraduates and post-graduates, and awards degrees under the purview of the DU. St. Stephen's offers degrees in liberal arts and science.[1]

It has consistently been ranked as one of India's premier institutions for both arts and sciences.[2][3][4]


The history of St. Stephen's College could be traced to St. Stephen's High School, founded in 1854 by the Reverend M. J. Jennings, Chaplain of Delhi, ran by the Delhi Mission of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. With the closure of Government College, Delhi in 1879 because of financial problems, the Bishop of Lahore, the Reverend Thomas Valpy French, immediately urged the Cambridge Mission, an Anglican mission organised by the alumni of University of Cambridge, to fill the breach.[5] The other major aim for the foundation of the college was response to British Indian Government's policy of promoting English education in India.[6] It was the Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt of St. John's College, Cambridge, who was mainly responsible for founding the college. Finally on 1 February, 1881, in support of the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Cambridge Brotherhood founded the St. Stephen's College. The Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt also served as its first principal.[7]

The college's first premises were in Chandni Chowk, Delhi with 5 boarders and three professors, and was an affiliate of the University of Calcutta,[8] but later in 1882, it changed its affiliation to Punjab University. The Punjab University received its charter more than one year after the founding of St. Stephen's College, which became one of the two institutions first affiliated to it and moved into premises in Kashmiri Gate, Delhi.[9]

In 1906, Principal The Rev. G. Hibbert Ware abdicated his post in favour of Susil Kumar Rudra who became the first Indian to head a major educational institution in India. The decision was frowned upon at the time, but Principal Susil Kumar Rudra proved to have a tenure of extraordinary importance for the college.[10]

Reverend C. F. Andrews, a prominent lecturer at the college and member of the Cambridge Brotherhood, was active in the Indian independence movement, and was named 'Deenbandhu' (which means, friend of the poor) by Mahatma Gandhi on account of his work with the needy and with the trade union movement. Currently, a portrait of Reverend C. F. Andrews is hung by the portrait of his good friend Rabindranath Tagore in the Principal's office. It is also believed that Rabindranath Tagore completed the English translation of 'Gitanjali', for which he was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, while a guest of the college.[5]

With the establishment of the University of Delhi in 1922, the college became constituent colleges of the University[11]

Women were first admitted in 1928, as there were no women's colleges in Delhi affiliated with the Anglican Church at the time; after the founding of Miranda House in 1949, women were not accepted as students until 1975.[12]


The college was named after Saint Stephen, who was adopted by the Anglican Church as the Patron Saint of Delhi after Christian converts were reportedly stoned to death during the 1857 uprising, as they were the first Christian martyrs in North India and were stoned, parallels to Saint Stephen were obvious.[13]


  • .The Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt, First Principal. 1881-1898.
  • .John Wright, Second Principal. 1899-1902.
  • .The Reverend G Hibbert Ware, Third Principal. 1902-1906.
  • .Susil Kumar Rudra, Fourth Principal. 1906-1923.
  • .The Reverend Francis Frank Monk, Fifth Principal. 1923-1926.
  • .Satya Nand Mukarji, Sixth Principal. 1926-1945.
  • .Douglas Raja Ram, Seventh Principal. 1945-1960.
  • .Satish Chandra Sircar, Eighth Principal. 1960-1972.
  • .The Reverend William Shaw Rajpal, Ninth Principal. 1972-1984.
  • .Dr. John H Hala, Tenth Principal. 1984-1991.
  • .Anil Wilson, Eleventh Principal. 1991-2007.
  • .The Reverend Valson Thampu, Twelfth Principal. 2008–Present.



The badge is a martyr's crown on a field of martyr's red within a five-pointed star edged with Cambridge blue. The five-pointed star represents India, the Cambridge blue border of star represents the impact of University of Cambridge on the college, having been founded by the members of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and the ground is coloured red to represent Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and Patron Saint of the Anglican Mission in Delhi, in whose memory the college is built, stands the martyr's crown in gold.

Present form[edit]

SSC is a co-educational institution of higher learning. It is regarded as one of the best colleges in the country. Nationwide surveys such as those by India Today and The Week have consistently described the college as amongst the best colleges in India for both arts and sciences.[15][16][17] It is one of the three founding colleges of University of Delhi, along with Hindu College & Ramjas College.[11] In spite of its location in North India, the college has always striven to admit students and select teachers from all communities and from all parts of India. It also admits a small number of students from overseas. The college offers a number of scholarships and awards to meritorious students. These are endowed over a period of time.[18][19]


The college is currently situated on a large and well-known campus in Delhi. It's campus is located in the North Campus of the University of Delhi and designed by the distinguished Welsh architect Walter Sykes George. The construction work was completed in 1941.[20] The college had previously functioned from a campus in Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, housed in distinctive Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture. This is now house for the office of Election Commission of Delhi. In fact, some college playing fields are still located between Kashmiri Gate & Mori Gate.[9] Facilities for a number of sports are provided for on the college campus. The Francis Monk Gymnasium, the Ladies Common Room, and the Junior Common Room provide facilities for indoor sports and recreation. A chapel is open to all members for worship and meditation.[5]

Residence Halls[edit]

The college's halls of residence are spread across six blocks, named for former principals, as given below:

  • .Allnutt North
  • .Allnutt South
  • .Mukarji West
  • .Mukarji East
  • .Rudra North
  • .Rudra South

Originally only for male students (termed 'Scholars in Residence') two of these blocks are now allotted entirely to female students.[21] These blocks have a capacity of residing 500 men & women. Each block is supervised by a member of the faculty functioning as block tutor. Porters and other staff who work in residence are referred to as 'gyps' and 'karamcharis' respectively.[22]


The St. Stephen's College has a famous library. The library has rare Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts.[22] It also offers digital services to students.[23]

Student Societies[edit]

Student clubs and societies have always played an important role in the life of the college, and are seen as vital to student development. Each academic subject has a society which sponsors lectures and discussions. The popular extra-curricular societies and clubs engage in activities concerned with debating, dramatics, trekking, film, social service, photography, quizzing and astronomy. In continuance of a long tradition, societies such as- Planning Forum, History Society, Gandhi Study Circle, Informal Discussion Group; regularly invite distinguished visitors to address and join issue with students on various topical issues.[24]


Alumni and students of St. Stephen's College are termed as 'Stephenians'.The college has produced a long line of distinguished alumni, including several Members of Indian Parliament and the Presidents of three countries. In fact, at one point in the 1970s two-thirds of all secretary-level positions in the IAS were occupied by Stephanians.[25] Eminent Stephanians may be found in any Indian roll call, like - politics, media, literature, scientific research, industry, entertainment, military, sports etc.[26]

Notable Alumni[edit]

See: List of alumni of St. Stephen's College, Delhi


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External links[edit]