LAHORE: The Government College University Lahore, one of the oldest seats of higher learning in Pakistan, Monday completed 154 years of its academic journey. Founded on January 1, 1864 in the Haveli of Raja Dhyan Singh in the Walled City Lahore as liberal arts and science college, the College (now University) served as a nourishing stream to hundreds of generations of talented men and women.
According to the College’s first history written by former principal Prof. H.L.O. Garrett, the Government College was the first seat of liberal education in North-Western India, later to become Pakistan. One of the major institutional objectives of the GC Lahore was to acknowledge the local intelligence and to instill a widespread academic and scholarly spirit. Among the initial nine enrollments, Mr Sanjhi Mall walked out of the College as the first graduate in 1868.
The College which began with just nine students and three professors now has more than 12,000 students and offering graduate and postgraduate programs in about 37 disciplines. The present gothic-style majestic building of the university was completed in 1877 on 3,700 square feet in the north of then called ‘Soldiers Garden’ with a cost of Rs. 320,000/-.
The College was initially affiliated with the Calcutta University as there was no university in this part of the sub-continent at that time. It was raised to the status of University in 2002 and was renamed as the Government College University Lahore. From first principle Dr. G.W Lietner to fourth Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Hassan Amir Shah, as many as 28 heads have served this great institution.
Talking to media at the Founders’ Day cake-cutting ceremony, Vice Chancellor Prof Hassan Amir Shah expressed gratitude to the long list of illustrious Principals, Professors and students whose hard work and efforts brought this great institution to its present position of eminence. He said GCU had been citadel of higher learning where ideals of tolerance and coexistence had flourished with commitment. He proudly said that GCU in its 154-years academic travel produced hundreds of eminent literary figures, politicians, two Nobel Laureates, four prime ministers, jurists, sportsmen, generals in armed forces and scientists.
Poet of East Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, N.M Rashid, Patras Bukhari, Ashfaq Ahmad, Qudsia Bano; Nobel Laureates Prof Dr Abdus Salam and Prof Dr Hargobind Khorana, Chief Justice M. R. Kyani, Chief Justice Naseem Hassan Shah and incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar are Old Ravains. Punjab Chief Minister Main Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and former Army Chief General Raheel Sharif were also old students of GC(U). Noted Indian actor Dev Anand, Rafi Peer, Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Hadiqa Kyani and Jawad Ahmad also studied from Government College Lahore.
Vice Chancellor Prof Shah said that the biggest challenge, which GCU had been facing for last many decades, was of space for initiating new academic programs. “I hope, in 2018, this issue would be resolved to some extent, as the first phase of university’s new campus at Kala Shah Kaku is near completion,” he added.
A large number of Old Ravians also sent felicitation messages through letters, social media and email to their alma mater on its Founders’ Day.
In their messages on GCU’s birthday, the GCU senior faculty members and alumni paid the rich tributes to the efforts of Dr Leitner, the first principle of Government College, and pledged that they would put in the best of their efforts maintain wonderful traditions of academic excellence, research, promotion of new ideas and above all, respect for others’ belief and views.