Calcutta University was founded on this day.
In 1854, following an earlier proposal to set up a university in Calcutta along the lines of London University, the British government received a formal despatch from Sir Charles Wood, the president of the board of control of the British East India Company, which suggested popularising the use of English language within India and contained several specific recommendations.
Known as Wood’s despatch, the recommendations intended, among other things, to create a class of English-educated Indians who could work as civil servants for the British. For this purpose, along with education departments in every province and government schools in every district, universities modelled on London University would be set up in major cities such as Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
On January 24, 1857, the Calcutta University Act came into force and a 41-member senate was formed as its policymaking body. The university would be a learning centre for students across north India and beyond, from Lahore to Rangoon.
The first meeting of the Senate was held at Calcutta Medical College. A temporary office of the university was started in rented rooms on Camac Street. University senate and syndicate meetings would be held at the Writers' Buildings and a lot of administrative work would be done from Town Hall.
The first chancellor and vice-chancellor of the university were Governor-general Lord Canning and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Sir William Colvile, respectively.
Writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Joddu Nath Bose were the first graduates of the university.
In 1862, when university authorities found it difficult to function from Town Hall, it was decided that a building for the university would be constructed. The Senate Hall was built and was inaugurated on March 12, 1873. Later, Ashutosh Building and Darbhanga Building also came up.