“I was introduced to college life here and also to co-education. The premises are beautiful. As I was active in student politics, I became popular in college more than in school,” says actor Vinay Forrt. A celebrated alumnus of Aquinas College, which celebrates its Ruby Jubilee on October 1, he has returned to college twice as Chief Guest for its events.
Established in 1981 by the Diocese of Cochin, Aquinas College aimed “to provide opportunities for study and research to the highest level… with special attention to the marginalised sections of society.” More than 12,000 students have successfully completed their education in its 40 years and are serving in various distinguished positions across the world.
Mary Hyacinth, a retired professor of history, was among the first seven faculty members when the college began. “The college is an integral part of my life. We grew along with the institution and it grew along with us.” She recalls the first classes in makeshift premises in Fort Kochi and of a staff room that turned into a stage at the present location before the college buildings came up. “We are like a family,” she says nostalgically.
The institute was established by the vision, guidance and patronage of Dr. Joseph Kureethara, the late Bishop of Cochin and carried forward by the dedicated work of Rt. Rev. Dr. John Thattunkal and the current patron Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kariyil. Affiliated to the MG University, a degree course in Physics was introduced in 1991 and the college was upgraded in 1994 with other courses like Economics, Mathematics, Commerce and English. In 2000, the first PG course in Physics was started.
Today there are seven UG courses (including Electronics and B.Com Taxation), three PG courses in the Aided Stream (Physics, Commerce and Statistics) and two PG Courses in the unaided stream (Biotechnology and Commerce). It was awarded B+ grade in the third cycle of the NAAC accreditation process. Its sister concerns are Avila B. Ed. College and Siena College of Professional Studies.
The Ruby Celebrations on October 1, 2021 at the college will be marked by the inauguration of a brochure on the 40 programmes for the yearlong celebrations and an Aquinas College Stamp in commemoration of the event. A prime project, ‘Kaaval’ (aimed at protecting the Chellanam coast by planting mangroves in the region) will be inaugurated. The occasion will be graced by the Minister for Higher Education and Social Justice Dr. R. Bindhu; the Vice Chancellor of MG University, Dr. Sabu Thomas; the Bishop of Cochin Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kariyil; Mayor of Kochi Adv. M. Anilkumar; legislators K. Babu and K. J Maxi; and Jeeja Tenson, Councillor.
“Aquinas College has reached another milestone in its journey. We consider our Ruby Jubilee as a year of gratitude where we recall the wonderful ways in which the college has fulfilled its vision and mission in imparting educational, moral and ethical values. It is the dedicated work of the various managers, teaching and non-teaching staff through these 40 years that is behind its progress. As we pay tribute to the past, we vitalise the future and the present becomes a commemoration,” says Principal Bridgit Jeeji on behalf of her team comprising the current patron Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Kariyil, manager Rev. Fr. Dr. Marian Arackal, and Vice Principal Dr. Joseph Justin Rebello.