In 1913, it became a first grade college while the first girl student was admitted in 1921
If it is Madurai, it is American College. This is the reputation that has been built over the decades and is, in fact, a journey that crossed a century long ago.
The sprawling campus in the heart of temple city with red brick buildings in Saracenic architecture is indeed a temple of learning with a distinguished record in India’s higher education history. Founded in 1881, the college is now a 132-year-old institution standing witness to pre-Independence era and post-Independent India.
Its pan-Indian reputation could be gauged from the fact that Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore visited American College in 1919 to deliver a series of lectures on education. Social reformer Periyar attended a function in 1955-56. The college pursues its mission with a blend of academic excellence and social relevance. What was started as an institution to benefit the downtrodden people is still continuing in the same spirit and the college hosts students from poor, middle and affluent families.
“Our main stakeholders are students. The institution owes its success to dedicated teaching and non-teaching staff. Certainly, American College is pride of Madurai,” says M. D. Christober, the 17th Principal of this prestigious institution.
The 48-acre campus is today the higher education address for around 3,500 students, both boys and girls. American College was accorded autonomous status in 1978. It had a formal inaugural function for the autonomous status in July 1978 in which T. N. Hajela, the then Deputy Secretary of University Grants Commission, and V. C. Kulandaisamy, Vice-Chancellor of the then Madurai University, participated. M. A. Thangaraj was the Principal then.
When it was started in 1881, the American College was affiliated to the Madras University as a second grade college. In 1905, money was received from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Boston in USA to acquire new grounds and buildings.
Firstly, 18 acres of land was purchased in Tallakulam. The corner stone of the college hall was laid in 1906 by His Excellency Sir Arthur Lawley, Governor of Fort St. George.
In subsequent years, several buildings for classes and hostels came up on the campus. In 1913, it became a first grade college while the first girl student was admitted in 1921.
During some recent turbulence on the campus, the people of Madurai and its alumni literally prayed for a quick solution and end of impasse. It is not an exaggeration to say that people see American College with a sense of belonging and no doubt it is the right address for higher education in southern Tamil Nadu for arts and science courses.
Buildings are American College’s highlights. The following are some of the important buildings on this campus given with year in which they were constructed:
James Hall (1916), Zumbro Hall (1925), Binghamton Hall (1930), Wallace Hall (1944), Main Hall (1909), College Chapel (1931), Dudley Hall (1956) and Stoffer Hall (1957).