Tamil Nadu

Students, peers pay tribute to a teacher

N. Veknatasubramanian

N. Veknatasubramanian | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

N. Venkatasubramanian, a former principal of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, would have gone unnoticed but for his former colleagues and students.

Dr. NVS or Prof. NVS was appointed head of chemistry department in 1961 at the age of 29 on the recommendation of his professor S.V. Ananthakrishnan under whom he did his PhD, said R. Gopalan, retired head of Chemistry Department, Madras Christian College (MCC). After an MA in chemistry in Presidency College, NVS joined MCC as a lecturer.

At Vivekananda College, he guided 27 Ph.D students, who later produced 35 more Ph.D students, a statement from his family added. He became the principal in 1973 at the age of 41 and inspired other departments also to engage in research besides starting the evening college programme. He has served as a Syndicate member of the University of Madras. He started the Centre for Postgraduate Studies in Pondicherry University and was its first director. He retired in 1992 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1997.

S. Sundaram, the first batch of M.Sc students at Vivekananda College and also NVS’s first Ph.D student, said his thesis was evaluated by Nobel laureate R.G.W. Norrish in 1968. “I was 26 years old then. contributions of Dr. NVS to teaching and research are remarkable. His students all over the world would remember him with gratitude forever,” he said.

One of his students, K.S. Viswanathan, said, “He was largely instrumental in shaping my career. First, he was a great teacher. I learned so much of the subject. When I did M.Sc, it was rather difficult (financially), and he helped me get the scholarship. He is somebody every student will look up to. The department used to buzz with research activity. He did not have much funding but did good research.”

His recommendation letters could get students admitted to foreign universities, said Mr. Viswanathan, currently a visiting professor of Chemistry in Krea University. “Last week, I sent a one minute video message to him, and he quite embarrassed me by sending an 11-minute audio message,” he added.

H. Jayaraman, his colleague from MCC and a close friend, recalled that one of NVS’s student was accepted by a Nobel laureate H.C. Brown as postdoctoral scholar. That internationally renowned researchers accepted students he referred, indicating his influence in the academic field.

“An excellent researcher, he modelled all his laboratories in the likeness of MCC labs. He served as the chairman of the Madras Chapter of the Royal Society of chemistry,” recalled P. Wilson, MCC Principal. NVS was honoured with the Champion of Chennai award in 2017 and lifetime achievement award by the Indian Chemical Society.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2022 5:48:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/students-peers-pay-tribute-to-a-teacher/article65708074.ece