Tamil Nadu’s first women’s university march

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On July 14, 1914, Madras College for Women, which would be renamed Queen Mary’s College for Women three years later, began operations at its present location on the Marina beachfront.

On July 14, 1914, Madras College for Women, which would be renamed Queen Mary’s College for Women three years later, began operations at its present location on the Marina beachfront.

In 1913, when T. Nallamuthu Ramamurthi, a student at the PT School in Madras, read his essay on the need for a women’s college, he did not know that his dream would come true the following year.

“A very bold and interesting suggestion,” commented a member of the Madras Governor’s Executive Council, present at the function. Remembering the incident for the book. The story of a widowed girlIn a biography on Sister Subbalakshmi written by Monica Felton, Ramamurthi said that the member had asked students who wished to study at such a university to raise their hands.

All 17 girls in her classroom did. “I have never been able to find out if at that time the government had already decided to open a college for women or if it was the enthusiasm that we showed that influenced them,” she said.

On July 14, 1914, Madras College for Women, to be renamed Queen Mary’s College for Women (QMC) three years later, began operations at its present location on the Marina beachfront in an old building with about 40 students. It was the first college for women to emerge in the Madras Presidency. Interestingly, Ramamurthi, a former student of the university, served as its first Indian director from 1946 to 1950.

Ancient records indicate that Lord Pentland, the then Governor of Madras, played a crucial role in the start of the university. “Lord Pentland took a great interest in Queen Mary’s College, the opening of which he was primarily responsible for,” said Dorothy De la Hey, founder and director, in a book on Pentland published by Lady Pentland.

She recalled in the book that while a joint Christian missions committee was also planning to start a women’s college in Madras, Lord Pentland felt that “high-ranking” Hindu families, who held orthodox views, would feel more comfortable sending their daughters to a university. government college. The college started by the Christian missions was the Women’s Christian College, opened in 1915.

QMC began operations at Capper House, built by Lieutenant Colonel Francis Capper as his residence, which was later converted into a hotel. This building and the adjacent Beach House and Sankara Iyer House were soon purchased. In subsequent years, the university gained three buildings: the Pentland Block, the Jeypore Block, and the Stone Block.

In the early years, when the university was developing its infrastructure, students who wanted to study science used the nearby Presidency College. The government arranged get it‘ field trips for QMC students to travel to Presidency College during specific periods of the day.

While Pentland played a significant role in the college’s inception, it was De La Hey who built it into a fine institution in its early days. She served as director from 1914 to 1935. She flew from the UK to attend QMC’s golden jubilee celebrations in 1964. In an interview for the hindu then he recalled how the tutoring system in which one faculty member was responsible for 30 students paid handsome dividends.

Over the years, the university played a significant role in educating women and produced many notable female alumni. However, the very existence of the university on its heritage campus was threatened when the Tamil Nadu government, led by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, decided to demolish the institution to build a new Secretariat.

The decision led to unprecedented mass protests by students and alumni, supported by political parties, including the DMK. (Prime Minister MK Stalin, then an MLA in the Opposition, was arrested and jailed after meeting the girls during the protest.) Strong protests and interventions forced the government to withdraw its decision.

A key problem facing the university has been the maintenance of the old buildings. Unfortunately, Capper House was demolished as it was dilapidated and a new administration building was built in its place.

The Beach House and the Sankara Iyer House, which are not in use, are in ruins. Thanks to Mr. Stalin’s recent visit to the university, the rest of the buildings and the campus have a new look.

The university has more than 5,000 students in 23 undergraduate programs, 18 graduate programs and 12 research departments, according to B. Uma Maheswari, director of QMC. Most of the students came from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ms. Maheswari, who began her teaching career at the university in the early 1990s and returned as principal in 2020, said that while today’s students had more opportunities, there was a need to focus on developing their skills.

In this regard, the university has launched many initiatives in addition to the state government’s ‘Naan Mudhalvan Plan’. A recent incident, in which a bright student who lost her parents was unable to join an after-hours skills development program because she relied on income from a part-time job, prompted faculty members to launch a “helping hand” project. raise money to help those students.

Compared to 42,000 applications last year, the university has received 53,000 applications for 1,400 undergraduate openings this year. The Principal attributed the increase to ranking 47th on the National Institutional Rating Framework (NIRF). “We are heirs to a great legacy and heritage. We want to take the university to greater heights worthy of its legacy,” she said.

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