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The Madura College (Autonomous), is an academic institution which stands like a towering titan between centuries. It has a hoary past spanning a century and a quarter. It has served the cause of higher education with dedication all these decades. The College offers 21 Under-Graduate Programmes, 13 Post-Graduate Programmes, 8 M.Phil. Programmes and 9 Ph.D. Programmes . The history of the college reads like a romantic tale.
The Government had started a Zilla School in 1856 as an outcome of Macaulay’s Dispatch of 1854 on Education. In 1880, a College Department was added to it and it was functioning on the premises where the Madura College Higher Secondary School now stands. An organization called the Madura Native High School Committee was then managing two schools in Madurai, the Native High School in Annakkuzhi Mandapam in West Chitrai Street and a branch of this School in the Velli Ambalam Manadapam in South Chitrai Street. The Government lent the Zilla School building to the Madura Native School Committee in 1888. The Committee saw potentialities in the institution. It offered to take over the Zilla School.
In 1889, the School and the College Departments were both taken over by this Committee and renamed itself as the Madura College Committee. The School was then called the Madura Native High School. The Committee went on to acquire another School in the city which had been started by a British Lawyer. In 1903, it also took over the Sethupathi High School and the Town Primary School when their managers found it difficult to run them.
Then the Committee got itself registered under the Indian Companies Act of 1882 under the nomenclature “The Madura College Board”. The Madura Native High School was renamed as The Madura College High School and the College, The Madura College. In 1906, a section for girls was opened in the Town Primary School marking an early step in the direction of women’s education in this part of the country.
The present premises of the Madura College stands is about 43 acres in area. Robert S.Fischer made a bequest of five and odd acres to the north of the present campus to be used as playgrounds. Raja Sir, Annamalai Chettiyar donated the rest of the land for this campus.
The Board worked tirelessly to raise funds for putting up buildings for the College and to upgrade it into a first grade institution. It organized fund raising campaigns, even conducting a Grand Raffle and selling small portions of its holdings. In 1925, the College became a first grade institution. It was only in 1937 that it could move into the present campus. But the Board could not manage to find funds for endowments and so in 1939, the College became a second grade institution.
Members of the Board and Members of the staff of the College worked unrelentingly, going door to door for fund raising, and frequenting the corridors of schools to enlist students. In 1946, the College regained its First Grade status. About a lakh of rupees was collected for endowment, buildings, prizes and scholarships. The P.M.Sankara Iyer Hall came up in 1941.
In 1947, the T.V.S. Hostel came up with a donation of about a lakh of rupees from the benevolent house of M/s.T.V.Sundaram Iyengar and Sons Pvt. Ltd. Since 2015, the renovated T.V.S. Hotel houses the departments of Tamil and English. In 1949, the Harvey Library came up with the help of a donation of a lakh of rupees by the Madura Mills Co. Ltd. The Gas Room and Sethupathi Science Block with the help of Government and the Raja Saheb of Ramnad respectively camp up later.
The college celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 1950. The Khajana Babu Rao(KBR) Hostel was the contribution of his family. The KBR Hostel was renovated in 2003 to accommodate classroom and office of the Controller of Examinations. Several other buildings came up subsequently. When the University of Madras finally decided to open a “Replica of the Madras University P.G.Education Centre“ at Madurai, the Madura College secured affiliation for Post-Graduate courses in Mathematics and Physics in 1958 and Chemistry in the next year. In 1959, the Post-Graduate Block of the College came up.
The progress of the College, then on, has been steady. Other courses were introduced in later years. In 1978, the U.G.C. has decided to act on its idea of Autonomous Colleges so that useful and responsible experiments could be made for improving quality of higher education qualitatively in the country. Institutions that had a history of academic excellence and committed response to the community’s needs were to be selected for the conferment of this status. It was but natural then that the Madura College was accorded this status in the very first group of autonomous colleges in this university area. The conferment of autonomy was the reward for the hard, visionary work of a band of dedicated workers in the Management and the staff of College.
- In 1983, the Evening College under the self financed stream was started.
- When the College was on the threshold of the centenary celebration, a decision was taken by the Madura College Board to suspend undergraduate program in arts and replace them with post-graduate programmes. The College celebrated its centenary in the year 1989.
- A new building for the Biological Sciences and one for the Department of Computer Science came up, thanks to the generous assistance by the UGC. Endowed with excellent infrastructure facilities, the College became co-educational from the academic year 1997-1998.
- The College has established an exclusive Centre for Computer Training as a common facility and also a Browsing Centre, in a new building. Another building has come up with the Constituency Development Fund made available by Sri.P.Mohan, M.P. The first floor on this building was built with the Constituency Development Fund made available by Sri. S.CHO Ramasamy, M.P. (Rajya Sabha).
- Another building named as Saroja Krishnamoorthy Block of nearly 2500 Sq.ft. has come up near the Duraisamy Block, thanks to Mr.M.Krishnamoorthy, a Philanthropist of Madurai.
- Autonomy Review committee visited the college during October 2016 and has recommended the extension of autonomous status upto the year 2021.
- In October 2017, the college was re-accredited (3rd Cycle) by NAAC with ‘A’ grade with CGPA of 3.15 in a 4-point scale.
- In 2019, the Diamond Jubilee Hostel Block was renovated with addition facilities. It is now used for classes of the various departments. In addition four Laboratories with state of art facilities are housed in this block.
- In 2019, Duraisamy Block which houses the Commerce department was renovated with nine classrooms and a mini-Seminar hall.
- In a span of three years, new grounds have been created for sports activities. A well-lit tennis ground has also emerged. The college gives primary importance to Physical education.
- Flood lit synthetic tennis courts were opened with international standard measurements to compete at the sectional, national and international levels. The Madura College Tennis Academy was also inaugurated to promote physical and mental health to the tennis enthusiasts of Madurai vicinity.
The Madura College (Autonomous) has maintained an enviable reputation in the field of higher education and has a distinguished Alumni spread across the globe. It remains an academic powerhouse in this part of the state, setting bench marks in education.