History will remember the Class of 2020 not for what the students and youth lost, but for what they changed. The long arc of history tells us we have every reason to be hopeful
Graduation is not the end, it is just the beginning of one’s career. Every student enrolled in a university waits for the day of graduation - the day of convocation. This day comes after a long interval for each student but for the University, it remains an annual event. Convocation Day is the reflection of a journey from the achievements of the past to goals to be achieved in future. Like every year, KIIT is holding its convocation this year as well. Though it is different from all previous years due to the pandemic, it is our whole-hearted effort to conduct it in the best possible way maintaining Covid protocols. The 16th Convocation of KIIT Deemed to be University on 21 November will be a big day for the University which has grown exponentially in the last 17 years as a University and over 23 years as an institution.
KIIT University has created a place in the global and Indian academic map. It started with small seed money of Rs 5000 in 1992-93 and became a vibrant educational hub by 1997. It was KIIT’s commitment to excellence that led to the grant of Deemed to be University status in 2004. KIIT has the distinction of being the youngest institute of the country to get University status in six years. Today, the university, comprising 28 schools stands majestically on over 25 sqkms with 23 aesthetically laid out, independent but contiguous campuses offer graduate, post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes. It has been recognised as an ‘Institution of Eminence’ by the Government of India. KIIT has been ranked No. 1 among self-financing institutions of the country in the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), 2020 of the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India. KIIT’s Computer Science Faculty has been ranked in the band of 501-600 by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. It is also pertinent to mention that KIIT has been ranked in 601-800 band for its Engineering and Technology streams.
KIIT Deemed to be University is unique as it is a student and parent friendly University. 30000 Students from all over India and 55 countries study here and find a home in the University. 95% of the students are from outside Odisha. It is a multifaceted University with the integration of cultures- a melting point of diversity with glaring unity. The student friendliness is achieved through vibrant Tutor-Mentor System that puts every student in the individual care of faculties who not only monitor students’ academic performance but also counsel them regularly at a personal level. The principle of Human touch at KIIT is conducive for the parents. Once they bank their trust on KIIT University by enrolling their wards, the University takes holistic care of them. KIIT has been maintaining 100% placement of its students consistently since its inception. For KIIT University, students’ wellbeing is the utmost concern. It has a super-speciality hospital that addresses a wide range of students’ and staff’s health concerns besides catering to the healthcare needs of the public at large. KIIT has also won The Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Asia 2020 for 'Workplace of the Year'.
A university is known for its research and publications. Besides inhouse publications by various schools, the researchers and faculty members of various schools regularly publish their research papers in reputed journals, authored books, got research projects and fellowships to research abroad and on joint projects. Currently nearly 100 research and consultancy projects funded by various national and international funding agencies with substantial budget outlay. With state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure progressively developed over the years, KIIT University has become the most sought-after destination for MICE Tourism. It is the only University in India to have 22 Nobel laureates visiting campus and addressing the students. Over hundreds of collaborations made with universities far and wide across the globe have been facilitating student and faculty exchanges, research collaborations and membership in international associations for cooperation in raising standards of education around the globe and global visibility with an aim to make KIIT globally acclaimed Centre of Excellence in education, embracing Internationalization of Education.
Dutee Chand, a student of KIIT represented India in the Rio Olympics - 2016 and won 2 silver medals at Asian Games 2018. She is also the first Indian to win Gold in the World University Games 2019. Student Amiya Mallick is the fastest runner in India. KIIT has huge sports infrastructure and a home to many sporting events. The academic achievements are exemplary. The Alumni of KIIT are in respectable positions in corporates, business, startups, education, jurisdiction, civil services and so on.
It is the only University in the world to integrate formal education with social work. The humane face of KIIT is best illustrated through its protégé - Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), which provides food, accommodation, health care and education from Kindergarten to Post Graduation to 30,000 underprivileged tribal children absolutely free. The stakeholders of KIIT support KISS University, the first exclusive tribal University in the world. KIIT has converted the remote village 'Kalarabanka' in Cuttack, Odisha into a model village in 2006 and then consequently to Smart Village in 2016 and the entire Manpur Panchayat into a model Panchayat (cluster of villages) with all city amenities. There has been peripheral development and growth of full-fledged township around KIIT and KISS. Even during these testing times of Covid-19, KIIT came forward to bolster the fight against virus by reaching out to three lakh distressed people with food, ration and essential supplies, assuring professional education to the children of deceased during Covid in Odisha free of cost, running four standalone Covid hospitals in the state with 1200 beds, taking care of hundreds of orphans during Covid and delivering dry foods with study materials to the 30,000 children of KISS at their doorstep in the hinterlands of Odisha since April 2020.
Thus, the greatest lesson learnt from the journey of KIIT is that of humanity, compassion and innovation. The success of the University from nothing to that of prominence is an example that nothing is impossible. One can achieve success and maintain it by working hard towards the goal without compromising on ethics, principles and humanity. And in such bleak moments like fighting the virus, history will remember the Class of 2020 not for what the students and youth lost, but for what they changed. The long arc of history tells us we have every reason to be hopeful.
(The writer is founder, KIIT and KISS)