St. Michael’s College, Cherthala reflects the lofty pedagogical mission of the Diocese of Alappuzha which has been devoting long years to the formation of erudite citizens for India by imparting value-based education through the selfless service of men of commitment and dedication. The college is situated on the highway 18 kms north of Alappuzha town, silhouetted against a captivating greenery and scenery. The sprawling campus of the college with its solemn and serene air is a magnificent sight to see from the national highway – NH47. Its magnificence suits it as the prime institute under the Diocese of Alappuzha.
The long cherished dream of the stalwarts of the Diocese found its realization in this citadel of knowledge which took its birth on 19 June 1967, as a result of prolonged and strenuous efforts and resoluteness. The correspondence between the University of Kerala and the Diocesan Management of Alappuzha had begun several years back. The authorities of the diocese were fully conscious of the mission to uplift the educationally less sophisticated and downtrodden who were wallowing in poverty and misery. By then the NSS and the SN trust had already established their own colleges in the suburbs of Cherthala.
But a large chunk of the population especially the Latin Catholic community continued to remain deprived. The college was the dire need of the educationally marginalized community spread throughout Cherthala-Ambalappuzha and Kanayannur constituencies. Hence the construction of the infrastructure began in the middle of July 1964 itself and the foundation stone was blessed by His Excellency Bishop Michael Arattukulam and was laid by the then Vicar General Msgr. Silverious Jackson. The community joined in this noble endeavor with all its enthusiasm by setting apart their ‘Kettuthengu’ to give their mite towards the construction of the college. The pace of progress in its development was duly accelerated by the proper guidance of Msgr. Joseph Thekkepalackal and the institution was initially named as ‘St. Michael’s Institute’. The college chapel that was built opposite to the college in 1973 later grew into a full-fledged parish church.
A commission was appointed to study the upcoming institution after repeated requests and supplications by His Excellency, Bishop Michael Arattukulam. But the commission did not favor the institute in its reports to the University. At this critical juncture, it was the missionary zeal and unflinching resoluteness of the Bishop that took the institution within the sniffing distance of victory. He refused to be vanquished and approached the then governor, the ministers, vice chancellors and syndicate members with petitions and supplications. Thus the 4th of March, 1967 became a decisive date in the history of St. Michael’s when the University syndicate took the decision to permit the establishment of a college under the management of the Diocese of Alappuzha. On fulfilling the pre-requisites for the affiliation to the University, St. Michael’s Institute was officially approved and recognized as St. Michael’s College on 19th June 1967. In the year of commencement there were only 3 main streams of pre-degree course in five different batches. Three hundred and Eighty one candidates were enrolled for the courses. The administrative hierarchy consisted of both clergy and laity. His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Arattukulam himself was the first Manager and Patron of the college. Rev. Fr. Peter M. Chenaparambil was the Pro-Manager and Rev. Fr. Jacob Kalayil was the First Principal of the college. Rev. Fr. Dennis Arasserkadavil became the Vice-Principal. Apart from these pioneers several other renowned personalities offered their selfless service in making this great endeavor a resounding success. Rev. Fr. Xavier Kaniambur, Sarvasree William and Sri. E.P. Isaac were a few among them. Right from the initial days in 1963, the dynamic presence of Rev. Fr. Peter M. Chenaparambil, who later become the Bishop of Alleppey, gave a boost to the development of the college from its infancy. Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Fernandez, Rt. Rev. Fr. Reynolds Karumancherry and Rev. Fr. Martin Karaukaparambil steered this institution in its nascent stages. Special mention is needed about Sri. Joseph Mathan Kurisunkal, the former M.P., who greatly contributed to its establishment.
The official inauguration of the college took place on 29th September 1967 with Prof. John Mathai, the Vice-chancellor of the University on the dais. Right from its inception, St. Michael’s established a reputation by fostering exemplary discipline on the campus and made its debut by ensuring that all the 333 candidates who appeared for the first examination from the college passed in their first attempt itself. The then Vicar – general Msgr. Daniel Kurisungal and Rev. Fr. Martin Karukaparambil did yeomen service for the college as bursars of the college. On 6th June 1970, Prof. P.J. Augustine, a professor from Fatima Matha National College, Kollam succeeded Fr. Jacob Kalayil who retired from service that year. Rev. Fr. Mathew Nerohna took charge as the college Chaplin in 1971. He later become the Manager of the college and served the college with great dedication till 1993.
It took 8 long years since its commencement to raise St. Michael’s from a pre-degree to a graduate college. It was in 1976 that a new degree course in Zoology was sanctioned to the college and thus B.Sc. Zoology began in the academic year 1976-77 itself and the official inauguration was done by the Honorable Revenue Minister Mr. Baby John and the inaugural meeting was presided over by Sri. A. Sreedhara Menon, the then University Registrar. The introduction of the degree course opened a new chapter in the academic progress of the college. B.A. Economics was introduced in the academic year 1977-78 and B.Sc Chemistry in 1980. With the coming of shift system more batches were sanctioned in the I, II and III groups for the Pre-degree. The college was teeming with students and new teachers were appointed in the early 80’s. Prof. Abraham Arackal who took charge as Principal after a long tenure in various Government Colleges took this institution to the Zenith of its glory.
But the dearth of degree and PG courses was acutely felt only when the UGC scheme was introduced in the early 90s. The college was placed under 2(F) 12 B of the UGC act on the 10th of February 1994. This made the inflow of UGC grants possible for undertaking developmental activities. The service rendered by Rev. Fr. James Anaparambil, Rev. Fr. Christopher M. Arthasseril, Rev. Fr. Johnson Puthenveettil is memorable. The herculean task of the construction of the Silver Jubilee Block on the northern side was performed by Rev. Fr. Christopher Arthasseril with the blessing and support of Bishop Peter M. Chenaparambil. The Silver Jubilee Block was blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter M. Chenaparambil on 20th December 1995. The first post graduate course, M.A. Economics, was started in the academic year 1995-96. Though applications for new courses were submitted every year, degree and PG courses were sanctioned only to the influential and politically powerful communities and managements. Since the college badly needed a facelift, both infrastructural and academic, a new block was built on the northern part of the main building to accommodate the new post-graduate course that was started. Three new courses like B.Sc Physics, B.Com and M.Sc Polymer Chemistry were sanctioned in 1998, 1999 and 2002 respectively. But they were not recognized as aided courses until 2010. They were new courses introduced to compensate for the delinking of pre-degree courses from the aided colleges which took place in stages in 2000 and 2001. As a degree college it became imperative for the college to place itself for accreditation. After much preparation and anxious waiting, the college was accredited B+ by the NAAC on 16th September 2004, when Msgr. Varghese Puthenpurackal was the manager of the college. Fr. Milton Kalappurackal and Prof. V.A. Marykutty, the then Principal played a vital role in preparing in the college for its first cycle of Accreditation. The path of the reaccreditation was fraught with difficulties. During these difficult days Rev. Fr. Boni Sebastian and Rev. Msgr. Dr. Antony Therath led the college as managers. The dearth of funds, courses and staff strangled the institution. Ever since the first accreditation the introduction of new courses and the construction of a new library became dire necessities. The new library block was constructed on the western side of the main block and was inaugurated by His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Athipozhiyil on 30th November 2009. After several years of waiting, two new courses were sanctioned bringing new hopes for a better reaccreditation. M.Com was started in 2013-14 and B.A. English Literature commenced on 2014-15. The greatest achievements were the UGC sponsored B.Voc degree programmes in Software Development and Tourism and Hospitality Management that were started in 2014-15. In addition to these the UGC also granted permission and assistance to start two community colleges leading to Diploma in Beauty and wellness and Diploma in Fashion Design. These developments have bolstered the strength and confidence of the management, staff and students in their preparation for Reaccreditation. Hectic preparations are underway for reaccreditation which we hope to materialize by the end of 2014.
In the meantime, infrastructural development saw an all time high during the last four to five years, thanks to the strenuous efforts of Rev. Fr. Solomon Charanghat the Manager and Prof. A.B. John Joseph, the former Principal. Besides completing the library block, a new building has been constructed on the southern end and is being used to house MIMAT, a Learner’s Support Centre which has been sanctioned for the college by the University of Kerala. It offers courses like BBA, BCA, MBA, B.Com and M.Com. Established in 2010, it is growing into a prominent educational institution at a tremendous pace. The major reforms undertaken in the improvement of academic standards include computerization, establishment of computer lab, language lab, canteen, smart class rooms, digital seminar hall and the renovation of the auditorium. Offering hostel facilities to the women of the college, a women’s hostel was constructed in 1967. The hostel is being run by the Canossian Sisters. A prayer hall named ‘Sancturio’ was constructed near the portico and was blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Stanley Roman, the Bishop of Kollam.
After much effort the college has been recognized as an extension centre of the Sports Authority of India. Being the only institution with a 400 meter track, the ground of the college is being utilized by various agencies for sports events and the college has become a major sports hub in the district. Several new projects are on the anvil including a sports hostel and indoor stadium. With these major improvements the college hopes to achieve a better grade and recognition as it approaches NAAC for reaccreditation.