December 23, 2016

Presidency University was established in the year 1817. It was then known as the Hindoo College and later in 1855, it became Presidency College. At the inception, Hindoo College consisted of two parts, the school (Pathshala) and the college (Mahapathshala). The subjects taught at the school were English, Bengali, Grammar and Arithmetic. The college taught subjects like History, Geography, Astronomy, Mathematics, Chemistry and other sciences.During the first two years of the Hindoo College, classes were held at the house belonging to Gorachand Bysack in Chitpore Road. After that, classes shifted to Bowbazar in 1819. There, the classes continued for another seven years until the campus was shifted to College Street to a wing in the newly constructed Sanskrit College.Soon the college had four separate branches: the General Branch, the Medical Branch, the Legal Branch and the Engineering Branch. Finally, in 1874, Presidency College was shifted to the building where it is presently situated. More than 140 years have passed since the present building was constructed and sadly, it hasn’t been renovated much since then.

The Heritage Commission, that had been set up to preserve the heritage of the College Street of Presidency University, has already started renovating and restoring the heritage campus. Major infrastructural changes are expected to be seen. The work has started a year ago and the State Government has sanctioned a sum of around 50 Crores for it. The work of renovating and making infrastructural changes to the Baker Laboratories, the Main Building, the Derozio Building, the Netaji Subhash Building and other common spaces has been initiated and 90% of the work is expected to be over by the end of 2017.

While the bicentenary will be celebrated in 2017 and there will be events throughout the year, the authorities are already involved in improving the infrastructure of the university. Along with the renovation, some assets are also being added to the university campus. A museum is being constructed which shall house the history of the university in parallel to the history of Bengal and India. An exhibition space and several small auditoriums are also under construction. The space in Netaji Subhas Building has been doubled. The laboratories are being modernised too as the importance of research has in increased manifold in the recent years. This shows the university’s interest to make research as an integral part of their academic curriculum not just for the post-graduate students, but right from the undergraduate level. Individual laboratory spaces for the faculty is also being allotted, which is a great step towards facilitating the university as a ground for serious research. The plan to construct an open-air amphitheatre for student activities is also in the pipeline. The library space has been tripled by means of renovating the internal structures. There are plans to increase the space for the Central Library too.

Interestingly, the university has decided to create an institutional archive, containing valuable documents written by eminent personalities and the lustrous alumni of the university, which will be put online so that scholars from all over the globe will be able to access them on the internet. This work has progressed considerably and for the time being, the National Digital Library has agreed to host it. In the long run, the university will have these digitized versions in their own server. The university has also undertaken an ambitious plan with the rare books. It involves not just restoring the rare books, but also digitizing the same.

The university has already started the department of Performing Arts last year and is planning to add some more like the School of Public Policies, School of Design, School of Biotechnology, School of Astrophysics and School of Big Data Analytics in the new campus at Rajarhat. There is a plan to establish 13-14 such schools with time. For now, the Rajarhat Campus will be solely dedicated to advanced studies as per the plans of the authorities, while retaining the heritage of the College Street campus.

The bicentenary year will be a very special year in the history of Presidency University due to the improvements and the renovations, which will be the lasting assets to the university. It is being done in a brilliant fashion and there is no doubt that this will enable the institute to shine for another 200 years.

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