Serampore College

The College

In 1818, the College was established in the Danish settlement of Serampore by the pioneer Christian missionaries, William Carey (1761-1834) Joshua Marshman (1768-1837) and William Ward (1869-1823), for the instruction of Indian youth in Christianity and the sciences. In 1827, the College was incorporated by the Royal Charter granted by His Danish Majesty King Frederick the Sixth with University powers under the control of an independent Council. The President of the Council is the Master of the College. The final authority in all matters related to the College was bestowed in the Master and the Council of Serampore College. The main intension of the King, and the Founding fathers, was the promotion of piety and learning, particularly among the Christian population of India, though open to all people without any distinction in castes and creeds. In the Treaty of Purchase which transferred Serampore from Denmark to the British Government in 1845, it was provided that the rights and immunities of Serampore College should not be interfered with. In 1856, it was placed by the College Council at the disposal of the Baptist Missionary Society to become a part of its educational operations – Arts and theological. The College was affiliated to the newly formed Calcutta University in 1857, the first body in India to exercise, though not the first to receive, University powers. Arts section of the College was closed in 1883 and the College became purely a Christian training institution, secondary, normal and theological for the Baptist Churches of Bengal. In 1910, a reorganization of the College was begun, and the following ten years, it was the subject of important discussions in various conferences – denominational and inter-denominational, with a view to its reorganization as a high grade teaching institution and the utilizing of the College Charter for granting of theological degrees to qualified students of all churches. The College was reorganized on the lines laid down by the original founders under the direct control of the College Council by the appointment of qualified Theological staff and the opening of Higher Theological Classes on an interdenominational basis. It again affiliated itself to the University of Calcutta: in 1911, up to the standard of the Intermediate arts; in 1913 to the BA; in 1920 to the Intermediate Science; and in 1924 to the B.Sc. In 1915, Serampore College Charter was utilized, for the first time, for the conferring of degrees in Divinity. In 1916, the Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.) was instituted. In 1918, the Centenary year of the College, the Serampore College Act was passed by the Bengal Legislative Council, confirming the power of Serampore College to confer Degrees, and enlarging the College Council. It created College Faculty for the internal governance of the College. The Act also provided for the constitution and appointment of a College Senate. The College Council appointed members of the Senate, as per the provision of the Act, representing various Christian Communions. Further, the Act authorized the College to confer degrees in theology on students who had not prosecuted a regular course of study in Serampore College, and thus made it possible for students of colleges affiliated to Serampore College, and for others whose studies had not been prosecuted in a college, to receive Serampore College Degrees in theology. In 1919, the Governing Body of the College – Council, Faculty, and Senate, was reconstituted in accordance with the provisions of the Serampore College Act. In 1922, the Collegiate School was closed down and shifted to Bishnupur, Kolkata where it still continues to function, and the college became purely an institution of higher education. In January 1925, responsibility for the full efficiency of the College on its present basis was assumed by the Baptist Missionary Society. In June 1949, the Council transferred to India with its headquarters at Serampore.

Subsequently, the Serampore College Act, 1918 (Bengal Act IV of 1918) was adapted in 1937 and 1950 and is in the law book of the Government of West Bengal as modified in 1951 and 1997 respectively.

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