Despite not gaining the status of a university until 2005, 'Jagannath' as an educational institution inherits the history ol a glorious past. In the course of more than one and half centuries of journey, this institution deserves special mention in history for many of its glorious and significant achievements. The history of Jagannath University 1s deeply rooted in the history of the Bangali and Bengal. Standing on the bank of the River Buriganga, this century-old educational institution is now committed to illuminating the nation.
The origin of today's Jagannath University lies in the establishment of a simple Brahma School. Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Keshab Chandra Sen founded the Brahmo Samaj on 20 August 1828 in Kolkata. This also influenced some young enthusiasts of East Bengal to establish Brahma religion in Dhaka on December 06,1846. Pioneers among them were Sree Brojosundar Mitra, Jadav Chandara Basu, Ram kumar Basu, Gobindra Chandra Basu, Biswambhar Das, Narottam Mullick. Among them Brojosundar Basu was the most influential, active, dedicated one who started his career as a head-clerk in 1840 in the Commissioner's Office of Dhaka at the age of 19 with a monthly salary of Taka 18 only, and later promoted to the rank of Deputy Collector with a salary of Taka 700. When he was serving in Kumilla, he took the initiatives to establish a Brahma School for the purpose of creating opportunities for education and religious practices of the Brahma children. Thus, as he wished, Brahma School was established on the ground floor of his Armanitola's residence on February 23, 1863 (the place where the present Ahmed Bawani School and College is located). Brahmo Samaj played a pioneering role in the field of education and cultural reforms. They (Brahmo Samaj) also took the full responsibility of running the school. Though the school was established for education and religious practices, it was open to all. Above all, the school provided free education. At first, though the students were taught up to Students Scholarship, the school started improving gradually, and later the students were given the opportunity to study up to Entrance Examination.
After running successfully for several years, the then Brahma School authority started facing some problems to keep the school functioning especially, due to the financial crisis. Despite the continuous effort of the school authority, it was not possible for them to overcome the challenges, and consequently, the responsibility of its management was handed over to Kishorilal Roy Chowdhury, the Zaminder of Baliati in Manikganj in 1 868.Kishorilal Roy Chowdhury shifted the school from Armanitola to its present location and renamed it as Jagannath School' after his father, Jagannath Roy Chowdhury. This is to be noted here that prior to the establishment of Jagannath School' two schools named Collegiate and Pogose Schools' were already functioning there. That 'Jagannath School' sowed the seed of today's Jagannath University. Soon after its inception, Jagannath School excelled the other well-established and renowned schools with its name and fame. At that time the toppers were from this school for the next couple of years in the Entrance
Examination under Kolkata University. As a consequence, the number of its students started increasing rapidly. Upgraded to College Level Being inspired by the fame and glory of the institution, Kishorilal Roy Chowdhury decided to upgrade it into a college, and in this regard, he was assisted by Anath Mallick, Advocate Troilakyonath Basu and Justice Sarda Charan Maitra. It is the success of the school that encouraged Kishorilal Roy Chowdhury to raise it to a higher secondary college (at that time it was called a second grade college, 1884). Along with the school activities, Law was one of the first courses introduced. A common management committee administered the school and college until 1887, when the school section was separated to form the independent Kishore Jubilee School, (now known as the K L Jubilee School). Jagannath college remained in its previous location.
The administration of the college was handed over to a board of trustees in 190/, and the following year, it was upgraded to a first grade college i.e. Degree college. The college started its journey with only 41 students. In five years, the number rose up to 396. In fact, from this time the name and lame as an educational institution started spreading out all over the country; it achieved the prestige of being the highest-ranked Non Government College in Dhaka city. Only one college of Dhaka city named 'Dhaka Government College' can be compared with this institution in terms of its fame and glory. By 1910, the number of students rose up to 500. At that time honours courses in English, Philosophy and Sanskrit and MA Course In English were introduced along with the regular intermediate and degree courses in Humanities and science groups. Prior to it, after the death of Kishorilal Roy Chowdhury in 1909, the college Board of Trustees was reformed. In 1910, Raja Manmath Roy Chowdhury, the zamindar of Santosh, Tangail, affiliated Pramath-Manmath College of Tangail with Jagannath College.
Transformation into a Higher Secondary College
In 1921, Dhaka University was established and the journey of Dhaka University began with the students from Jagannath and Dhaka College. In fact, the university started its educational activities With all the students of degree classes from these two colleges. At that time, the college had to stop admission in degree courses considering the scarcity of students for the newly established Dhaka University, and again it was transformed into a higher secondary college. In doing so, the Indian Legislative Council had to intervene, and it passed the ‘Jagannath College Act’ (1920). It was for the first time the incident of passing an act in the name of any educational institution in Indian sub-continent occurred. The Jagannath College Trustee Board was abolished by the Act and the responsibility of the college management was handed over to a Governing Body. At the Same time, the whole property and liability of the college was vested to the government. At that time, Jagannath College had to sacrifice not only its students but also the faculties. It is worth mentioning that even Dhaka University Library started with books from this College. As a token of gratitude, one of the halls of Dhaka University was named Jagannath Hall'. The college celebrated its Golden Jubilee on March 20, 1935, and the occasion was chaired by Zaminder of Santosh, Raja Monmath Roy Chowdhury. The door of co-education was opened in 1942. The then Principal of the college, Shailendra Nath Ghosh enrolled the name of his own daughter in Science classes and thus, the opportunity of co-education was introduced. The next year, a separate section started functioning for providing the opportunity of science education for the girls. It was the first ever initiative taken at Jagannath college for providing the opportunity of science education for the girls at college level in Dhaka city.
Jagannath College reopened Degree classes
After the partition of India in 1947, teaching in the graduate classes was restarted. With the inspiration of the then Principal Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman B.Com in 1948 and in the next year B.A classes started. From this time, night shift courses were also introduced and it was the then Principal who introduced the provision of recruiting teachers through demonstration class. The provision continued till the nationalization of the college in 1968. But after the partition, co-education system was abolished and, it was re-introduced in 1968 when Prof. Saydur Rahman was appointed as the Principal of the college. During his tenure, for the first time female teachers were appointed in this college. Within four years the number of students dramatically increased and while in 1964 the number of enrollment was 4500, it became more than triple i.e. 15000 in 1969. By this time, B.Sc. the course was introduced in 1959.
Jagannath College and the Independence Movement
During the Pakistan regime, Jagannath College was the second home of the student movement. There was a popular saying that no meeting of Bot-lola became successful, until the students' procession from Jagannath College reached there. This institution was also the centre of all movements in old Dhaka. In the great Language Movement, Jagannath has its own glorious history. Jagannath feels proud of Rafiq, a student who achieved the glory of being the first martyr to the cause of mother tongue in world history. The contribution of the teachers and students of this institution strengthened the Language Movement. Pakistani Government was looking for an opportunity to diminish the influence of this institution. And the Provincial Governor Monayem Khan was more interested about it. In 1966, when 6-Points Demand was declared, the students of Jagannath successfully observed the first strike on June 07. The first protest and procession against the Agartola Conspiracy Case was brought out from this campus. In March 1968, when the senior Communist leader Moni Singh was arrested from his concealment, thirty-five teachers of Jagannath College gave a Joint-statement in the newspaper protesting against it. This made Monayem Khan more furious about Jagannath. Prior to this, the college was suspended for an uncertain period and after a long five months it was reopened.
Transformation to a Government College
On the 1st August, 1968, by a government order, this institution was transformed into a Government College in the name of provincialization. Not only that, this reputed college was divided, one part was transformed into a science college and restructured in its present location and the other part was established in Mohakhali, Dhaka named Jinnah College (now Titumir College). It is worth mentioning here that neither students-teachers nor the people of the country accepted this decision easily. The decision agitated the whole country, many renowned teachers of the college resigned from their posts and those who remained, started facing different types of problems. This is to be noted here that the 11-points demands of the students laid the foundation of the historical Mass Movement of 1969 and among the listed demands no. I (a) demand was the withdrawal of the decision of nationalization of Jagannath College. However, because of pressures from teachers and students, Jagannath College was restored to its previous status within a year, the government was forced to permit the night shift and Arts and Commerce Courses from September 01, 1969. After Independence, honours courses were introduced in 1972 and Master's courses thereafter. Different departments established their own seminar rooms. To lessen the pressure of students, Intermediate class was closed down in 1982, and at that time night courses were kept open only for BA, B.Sc. and B.Com. In 1992, the College introduced night courses for MA (part I and 2), degree (bachelor) pass courses were abolished, and still the number of students reached 25,000. Once started its journey as a free primary school in course of time, it continued to play its role and became a trustworthy dwelling place of higher education for the whole country including Dhaka city as well as for the people from all walks of life, including middle class, lower-middle class or even for the students from the poor families of the country. To tell the truth, this was the main characteristic of this institution that made this century-old educational institution unique.
Journey started as a University
As the educational activities of the College expanded, expectations of the mass people, students and teachers about Jagannath started increasing simultaneously. At one stage, it was demanded to transform the college into a full-fledged autonomous university. Though on Nov. 2, 1995, it was declared as a University, it was not activated even many years after. Time to time students kept their movement continuing to activate this declaration. At last, after a long 9 years, on November 06, 2004, in the ECNEC meeting Jagannath University Project was approved. On March 2, 2005, the then Principal of Jagannath College Prof. Ayesha Shirin Rahman was appointed as the Director of the project. To cope up with the global trend of the competitive world and to improve quality of teaching, learning and research in the field of higher education nationally i.e. to change the landscape of higher education through enhancement of quality of higher education and research the Jagannath University Act was approved by the parliament on 27 September 2005 by transforming Jagannath Government College into a university, and in that same year on October 20, by a Government notification the dream of a full-fledged university came into being. After that with the appointment of Prof. Sirajul Islam Khan as the first Vice-Chancellor of the university on February 08, 2006, the journey of a full-fledged university began.
Faculties, Institutes and Departments
Government Jagannath College under four Faculties (Arts, Sciences, Commerce, and Social Sciences, Session 2005-06) started its journey with twenty departments in the name of Jagannath University. Faculty of Arts, included Bengali, English, History, History and Culture of Islam, Islamic Studies, Philosophy Department Faculty of Business Studies included Accounting and Management Department; in faculty of Science was comprised of Botany, Chemistry, Geography & Environment, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, Zoology Department and Faculty of Social Sciences included Economics, Social Science, Social Work Department.
After that, from 2006-07 academic session Finance and Marketing Department were included in the Faculty of Business Studies. Again from 2008-09 academic session Anthropology and Mass Communication & Journalism Departments were introduced under the Faculty of Social Sciences and Department of Law was included under the Faculty of Arts. Since March 13, 2010 the name of Accounting and Management Department was changed into Department of Accounting and Information Systems and Department Management Studies respectively. From 2009-10 Faculty of Science included the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology and Department of Pharmacy. From the academic year 2012-13, the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology was renamed as Department of Microbiology.
On the June 22, 2011, according to the decision of the 15th Academic Council and according to the 39th Syndicate Meeting of 27th June, Department of Law was included in Faculty of Law; Department of Chemistry, Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics, Department of Statistics, and Department Of Computer Science included in the Faculty of Science and Department of Botany, Department of Geography & Environment, Department of Psychology, Department of Zoology, Department of Microbiology, and Department of Biotechnology and Pharmacy were included in the Faculty of Life and Earth Sciences. From July, 2010 Centre for English Language, from 2013-14 under the Faculty of Arts Drama and Music, Fine Arts and Graphics Department, under the Faculty of Social Sciences Department of Public Administration and from 2015-16 academic year Film and Television Department started their academic activities. From the academic year 2015-16 IER (Institute of Education and Research) began its programme.
From 2016-17 academic year under the Faculty of Law, Land Law and Management Department, under the Faculty of Life and Earth Sciences Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Department started their academic activities. On April 16, 2015, the name of the Fine Arts and Graphics Department was changed to Fine Arts Department and from 2016-17 academic year the Music Department was separated from Drama and Music Dept and two separate departments started in the names of Music Department and Drama Department. From the 2017-18 academic year the Centre for English Language was abolished and Institute of Modern Languages (IML) started. M.Phil and Ph.D programmes started from the academic year 2012-13.
The BNP government wanted to build up the Jagannath College in a Private University model. Because five years after the establishment, bearing its own cost was totally like a private organization. From this side its Act was faulty and against the principles of a public university. In 2011, our present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's steps made it fully a Public University.
In the first Convocation of Jagannath University (bearing its history of one hundred and fifty years), If we are to realize the importance properly, we have to carry its history on. In the past Jagannath had an active role to play in each economical-social and cultural activity. And still it has to. Dhaka University is called the womb of Bengali Nationalism and Jagannath is focused as its life flow. In the past, the teachers were not only extraordinary in wisdom and knowledge, but they were the forerunners of all kinds of intellectual achievements. Following this history and tradition, the Jagannath has been able to be one of the best educational institutions in the country.