Prof S.P. Thyagarajan: Instilling the New-age Pedagogies and Influencing the Spark of Excellence Among the Youth

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

– Henry Adams

Do you remember the name of your first teacher?

Everyone must assert that the parents are every child’s first teacher; everyone learns life lessons from their parents. However, apart from the parent, does anyone reminisce about the name of their first teacher in their schools?

Most people remember their first school teachers because they influence them toward education. As time flies, the teachers keep changing as per the standard of education. Nevertheless, the work of all teachers at any stage of life never changes. The teachers keep on imparting knowledge to students, and the knowledge influences excellent achievements in one’s life.

Moreover, a teacher always acts as a torchbearer who influences and imparts more knowledge to society, which assists the continuous development of human life. Similarly, Prof S.P. Thyagarajan is spearheading the education space with the vision of spreading knowledge in society. Being a first-generation learner, he has been influencing the knowledge of the next generation and assisting continuous development in the education field.

He is the Chancellor of Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women (Deemed University); under Prof S.P. Thyagarajan, several policies have been implemented for the overall development of the university. Moreover, it emphasizes imparting quality education to women. During 65 years, the institute has created 56,677 women graduates, post-graduates, and PhD. Doctorates.

While hunting for India’s Most Passionate Education Influencers, 2023, we crossed the path of Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women (Deemed University) and interviewed Prof S.P. Thyagarajan, where he shared his professional journey and his future vision for the success of the institute.

Read ahead to learn more about Prof S.P. Thyagarajan.

A Passionate Academician

Prof S. P. Thyagarajan is a first-generation learner from a small hamlet in Tamil Nadu. He attended government school and earned first-place honours throughout his B.Sc., M.Sc., and PhD degrees.

Besides this, he graduated with D.Sc. Medical microbiology from the University of Madras and also completed his M.D. in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 51 years of his academic career, he first attended Stanley Medical College, then spent 12 years as an assistant professor at Madras Medical College and 24 years as a professor at Madras University before being appointed vice chancellor of the University of Madras.

He worked for 13 years as pro-chancellor and dean (research) at Sri Ramachandra Medical University before retirement. Later, he subsequently took over as Chancellor of the Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education in December 2020.

He was instrumental in developing the XI and XII Five Year Plans’ policy documents on higher Education and the UGC’s policies and Regulations on various aspects of promoting the quality of Higher Education.

He also played a key role in strengthening basic science research at the national level in Indian universities and several theme-based research programmes in the medical sciences through the UGC, ICMR, DBT, MOEs, and DST. Additionally, he held the position of CHIEF CONSULTANT for the MHRD, the Government of India’s RUSA Program.

The Glance of the Institute’s Inception Journey

The Padma Bhushan Dr T.S. Avinashilingam, a renowned Gandhian, a freedom fighter who worked with Mahatma Gandhiji, and a philanthropist, founded the institute Sri Avinashilingam Home Science College; it was opened on July 24, 1957, by Sarvapalli Dr S. Radhakrishnan. This was the first Higher Education institution in Tamil Nādu devoted exclusively to women only.

With the tireless efforts of Dr Rajammal P. Devadas, who became the first Vice Chancellor of the current Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education, he made visionary contributions to high-quality women’s Education. On June 8, 1988, a Government of India notification F.9-20/84-U.3 of the Dept. of Education upgraded the college as an ‘Autonomous College’ and later as the ‘Deemed to be University-exclusively to promote women’s Education.’

The Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education has provided 65 years of women’s education services. It has produced 56,677 women graduates, post-graduates, and PhD doctorates, which is unquestionably a commendable contribution to fulfilling the policy commitment made for women’s Education and entrepreneurship.

The institute has been accredited A++ grade along with a CGPA of 3.65/4 on February 22, 2022, by NAAC, under the guidance of the Managing Trustee, Dr TSK. Meenakshisundaram, Chancellor Prof S.P. Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor Prof V. Bharathi Harishankar, and all the faculty members.

While stating about the institute, Prof Thyagarajan asserts, “The USP of this Deemed to be University is Promotion of value-based higher education to all women students across the globe, embedded with entrepreneurship, innovation and 21st-century skills to discharge their Scientific Social Responsibility and to achieve Sustainable Development Goals-3 &4.”

Overcoming the Challenges

After mentioning the institute, Prof Thyagarajan highlights the challenges that he has overcome throughout his career and says, “In all the three Universities, as Vice Chancellor of the University of Madras, Pro-chancellor cum Dean of Research of Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (Deemed University) and presently as Chancellor of Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women (Deemed University), where I played leadership roles, the challenges were pushing faculty and administration to cope up with the momentum of implementation of higher education reforms and quality enhancement.”

Persistence, Perspiration and Inspiration are the three ‘mantras’ for achieving reasonable success,” he added.

Intrinsic Motivation is Conducive to Creativity!

When we ask Prof Thyagarajan about his intrinsic Motivation towards Education, responding to the same, he states, “I have always found my students to be highly talented with potentials of ‘Sparks of Excellence’. The only requirement is the ‘ecosystem’ of interaction and comradeship between students and teachers. I have always guided based upon the student’s aptitude as evidenced by their varied performance.”

A Pearl of Wisdom

While advising the students, Prof Thyagarajan asserts, “As the need has been emerging for human resource globally in the 21st-century, the students have to evolve themselves with 21st-century knowledge and skills of Education-5.0 through all sources of learning and training to become employment generators and builders of our Indian economy.”

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