The Indian higher education sector has evolved a lot over the past couple of decades and the increasing quality of educational institutions and revolutionary ideas of educators has been a major catalyst that has been fuelling the growth of the Indian higher education strata. Enjoying visionary status in the South Indian higher education realm is The American College. The college was incepted as a school in 1842 by the American-Madura mission and elevated as College in the year 1881, Rev. G.T.Washburn was the first Principal. The American College operates with the objectives to provide all the students irrespective of their creeds a liberal Christian Higher education and to train them in the service of God and people. The college has a unique vision to provide Christian educational institution of global standards and reputation to their students and become a centre of excellence.
Becoming an Example for the Rest
With the impetus provided by the recommendations framed by the Kothari Commission (1944-46), The American College pioneered the cause of college autonomy and succeeded in becoming one of the first eight arts and science colleges to be represented as an autonomous institution on 27thJuly, 1978 by the UGC. With its extreme sensitivity to national policies and community needs, the college has grown from strength to strength and thrived to prosper in the service of higher education. It is also one of the very few first colleges in the country to establish choice-based education from 1978 at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Departmental and interdepartmental course choices were provided to all the arts and science streams and made it available to access independently to widen their field of interest. Multi-disciplinary courses like American studies were appraised at the undergraduate level. As a measure to strengthen it along with the credit system, the college introduced the Choice Based Credit System in 2002-2003 and was further revisited in the year 2008 so that students could build responsible and meaningful choices all throughout their degree programs in the learning process. Currently, the college offers 26 undergraduate, 17 postgraduate and 10 M.Phil., programs in which 8 departments have been recognized as research departments for undergoing a Ph.D. level research. It is accredited with five-star status in the first cycle during 2000 and A+ in the second cycle in the year 2016 by NAAC, i.e. 3.46 on a 4 point scale.
“Departmental and interdepartmental course choices were provided to all the arts and science streams and made it available to access independently to widen their field of interest”
Right from the start of academic autonomy in 1978, the college has always been proactive and innovative in Indian Higher education. Under Part I, all the undergraduate students are envisaged to learn any Indian languages like Tamil or Hindi or a foreign language French for a period of two years. In Part II, English is a compulsory subject in the first four semesters of the degree program and the department of English has published in-house textbooks. Part III helps students major in their chosen fields and to expand their horizon of knowledge in the related disciplines of multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary nature under the rubrics called Major Supportive and Major Innovative. Under Part IV, students can choose Non-Major electives in the first year, Life Skill courses in the first and third years, Environmental Studies and Value Education in the third year. The American College received Best College award from the President of India in the year 2017.The institution has also received a contemporary achievement as being recognized as a Mentor Institution by the UGC in 2019.
Creating the Perfect Learning Environment
The Study Centre for Indian Literature in English and Translation (SCILET) in the American College, Madurai was started in 1985 to cater to the needs of readers/ researchers in the field of Indian literature from different parts of India and beyond. The resource centre with a large database in Indian literature also has alcoves for Common Wealth Literature, Asian Literatures in English and Gender Studies. SCILET organizes the ‘Meet-the-Author’ programs, special lectures by public intellectuals and also conducts an annual creative writing workshop led by a prominent Indian writer in Kodaikanal. SCILET has also published 31 volumes of its annual Indian Poetry Journal, ‘KavyaBharati’ and 26 volumes of Kavithalaya dedicated to creative writing by students.
The main campus of the American College present is situated on a sprawling 48-acre campus in the heart of the city. The college is known for its 20 colonial heritage buildings including six colonial bungalows and has five residential halls in the main campus wherein 1500 students inhabit. Adding about the infrastructural amenities offered at The American College Dr.M.Davamani Christober, Principal & Secretary, The American College said, “The College proudly developed a Satellite Campus in 2006 for 60 acres under the foothills of the Western Ghats on the outskirts of the city and it became functional in the year 2015 with three buildings now with the state-of-the-art infrastructure for the departments of BBA, Master of Business Communication, B.Com, Physics, Mathematics, English and Data Science along with a men’s hostel”. The College is also planning to shift the UGC sponsored community college to the satellite campus. The Community College that is currently functioning at the Main campus and offers Diploma, Advanced diploma, B.Voc degree in four disciplines.
Dr. M. Davamani Christober, the 17th Principal of The American College concluded,” we are aiming to become one of the most recognized names in the International higher education strata”.