Inaugural Speech by Dr. A. M. Chacko, Retired Principal of U. C. College
Union Christian College Alumni Association of North America, Inc. Inaugural
Speech delivered by Dr. A. M. Chacko, Retired Principal on Sunday,
September 2, 2007 at Bergenfield, New Jersey.
I am very glad that you have made it possible for me to be with you at the inaugural function of the Alumni Association of North America. I thank you very much for this kind gesture.
I remember having visited several centers in the U.S. in 1996 and organized units of alumni. I am very glad to note that you have carried on the efforts and got the National Alumni Association of America registered and that you have now got permission from the IRS to exempt donations to AANA from Income Tax. It is a great achievement. I congratulate the office bearers for this grand achievement.
I bring you greetings from the Principal Dr. Varghese John, the Old Students Association Secretary Dr. Sunny Kuriakose, and the Manager Prof. Mathew Koshy.
When Dr. Thomas P. Mathew and Mr. Thomas Mathew came to U.C. College, they met the executive committee of the Old Students Association. I was also present at that meeting. I am glad that they made me the official representative of the College and the O.S. Association.
I am glad that so many of you set apart this afternoon for the inaugural function of UCCAANA. You are here because of your love and concern for your alma mater.
The brochure in your hands briefly gives an account of the present condition and growth of the college.
The College is owned by an Association consisting of the representatives of the four constituent churches and the Inter Church Fellowship of the College. The Association is registered as a non-trading company.
Four representatives each of the 4 churches and 8 representatives of the Fellowship are there in the Association in addition to the Principal, Bursar and the Manager as Ex-Officio members. Every three years the association is elected by the outgoing association. They elect a Governing Body for the general administration of day to day matters. The Governing Body meetings are held once a month and are chaired by the Manager.
The academic matters are managed by the Staff Council under the leadership of the Principal.
The Inter Church fellowship consists of the permanent teachers of the College belonging to the constituent churches. They meet once a week for prayer and look after the spiritual activities and manage the hostels and supervise works. There are 5 women's hostels and one men's hostel.
There are Academic Dean and Administrative Dean to help the Principal in the discharge of his responsibilities.
The Old Student Association
The Old Student Association is functioning more effectively than in the past. Old Students reunion is held every year by the O.S.A. on the 2nd Saturday in November. Please adjust your leave in such a way that you can be present at the College for the Old Students reunion on the 2nd Saturday in November.
One recent trend is that old students belonging to a particular dept or a particular period sometimes organize reunions on their own to which they invite the executive officers of the College and former teachers.
- the meeting of the O.S. of the period 1956-1966.
- the reunion of Chem. B.Sc. students of the year 1979-82.
- the reunion of Botany graduates and post graduates for celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the commencement of the Botany Dept.
- the reunion of O.S. of the Economics Dept. to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of starting the P.G. course in Economics.
- the reunion of Psychology Dept. O.S. every year.
- the reunion of the women students of East Hostel during the period 1966-73.
- Also regional get together functions.
Such reunions are expressions of the love, unity and brotherhood they learnt while they were studying in the College.
The College is proud of all its alumni. Some of them have distinguished themselves as Central and State Ministers, Chief Ministers, Civil Servants, Judges, Educationists, Administrators, Scientists, Bishops, Teachers, Poets, Social Workers, etc.
The Vocation and Mission of the College
In the past the founders kept the following as their goals:
- Imparting of sound learning and building of character.
- Spread of spiritual truth and knowledge of God.
- Contribute to nation building.
- Inculcation of the spirit of love, unity and brotherhood.
- Maintaining a cosmopolitan character and a sense of wider ecumenism.
- The Fellowship method of life and work, understanding that working with synergy will yield more enduring results, 1 + 1 > 2.
- Arriving at consensus whenever possible and accepting the reality of interdependence, not dependence or independence.
- Inculcation of values of life by living together and learning together.
- Working with a view to improving the standard of life of the people belonging to socially backward and financially weaker sections of our population (Yathi, Alwaye Settlement, Rural Medical Mission, etc.). These goals are relevant even today.
The Present Scenario
We are to involve ourselves in secular education in a Christian context according to the goals mentioned above. The present scenario is characterized by rapid changes, advanced technologies and shift in educational philosophy. Education is more and more seen as a private good, and hence the consumers and beneficiaries are supposed to pay for it. The Govt. is spending less and less on education.
The human being is more seen as a resource to be developed and shaped according to the market demand, and education is not seen as self- realization and self- transcendence with maximum satisfaction to the individual and maximum benefit to the society. On the other hand, education has become a profit making business rather than a service to the society.
Revolutionary changes are occurring in the area of education brought about by rapid advances in information technology, biotechnology, etc. Because of the positive aspects of globalization, internationalization of education has become a felt need. Internationalize or perish is the slogan today in the educational field.
In order to become a knowledge society, the quality of the teaching, learning process has to be improved tremendously.
In a listing of 200 top universities of international standards, not a single university in India has been included. So also, among the top 10 colleges in India listed by India Today for several consecutive years, not a single college in Kerala has been included.
The Union Christian College has to meet these challenges and needs of the present in a meaningful manner without compromising its goals. Both the Management and the teaching community must work together in a meaningful manner with renewed vision and dedication harnessing cooperation and resources from all possible sources. It is in this respect that the North American Alumni become very relevant.
The College must be able to look up to its North American alumni for greater intellectual, academic and financial resources for internationalization of higher education or establishing greater international linkages.
If UCC can impart world class education at affordable cost, with value addition distinctive to it, then your children and grand children, if necessary, can benefit from it. Students from foreign countries can be attracted to UCC.
Steps to be taken
While maintaining the liberal arts and science tradition, UCC should offer courses that have greater relevance, fundamental contribution and life-orientation.
There should be greater faculty and student exchanges.
Education should be such that it could enable students to take on challenges of a world which require diversity of skills and wider knowledge base.
This would mean ensuring compatibility between systems and courses that are offered in UCC and elsewhere in the world, particularly in the U.S.
This naturally will entail greater academic autonomy, better infrastructure, residential facility and world class library with better access to knowledge and information.
The Present Project
It is in this connection that the College has been planning for an International House and Alumni Development Office. The IHADO is expected to be a hub of all these developmental initiatives.
You, as alumni, have a stake in this trajectory of development. As stake-holders you have to spell out your suggestions as to how the College should develop in future through UCCAANA.
The College should seek your suggestions for future development by holding consultation with as many of you as possible.
Though I am not now a part of the Colleges power structures to give you any commitment, I can certainly be a facilitator for a mutually rewarding relationship.
Let me suggest a few ways UCCAANA can involve itself in the future development of the college.
(1) You can pass on information regarding the alumni in the USA to the office bearers of the UCCAANA or to the College.
(2) You can persuade people or foundations to become interested in the growth of UCC and request them to take up financing some of the projects and to think of bequeathing some funds for the College in their will, deed.
(3) You can make some colleges or universities interested in establishing links with UCC for academic exchange programs. The UCCAANA should be able to promote such exchanges.
(4) UCCAANA can plan to have annual get together in different parts of USA on the first Saturday of a particular month and make this known to every alumnus.
(5) UCCAANA can also persuade members in different regions to arrange regional get together functions.
(6) A committed core group must steer the activities of UCCAANA.
(7) Members of UCCAANA must make it a point to visit their alma mater when they go to India.
(8) College should invite the representatives of a core group of UCCAANA to discuss its proposals with the UCC Management to enable the college to consider implementation of the same.
With these words I inaugurate the Union Christian College Alumni Association of North America.