In the great Chain of Being,educational institutions are the necessary links to disseminate knowledge and fulfill the society’s need for learning. Every society has its own list of individuals who nurture a desire for making their society a self-reliant one. Madurai, the city known for its temples and religious festivals, had many great personalities who wanted to bring about an attitudinal change in the mindset of its citizens. Kalaithanthai Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar was one such.He foresaw the need for an educational institution to develop the city both in the economical and social domain. Kalaithanthai bought the Summer Palace of Rajah Sethupathi on the banks of river Vaigai for housing the college and constructed additional buildings. Other institutions around the Mariamman Teppakulam built by him still remain as the epicentres of learning today.
Thiagarajar College was founded on 7th July 1949. It was formally opened on 12th October 1949 by His Excellency, the Maharaja of Bhavanagar, the then Governor of the Madras State. In the inaugural function, the Founder described the college as a “small and humble endeavour in education”. There is a popular saying in the college about the opening date. "As long as the mathematical equation 7x7 = 49 remains unchanged, the college will remain immortal".
Since then, the college has become a vibrant place and one of the premier institutions in Madurai. The college was opened with only three undergraduate courses but now boasts of eleven core branches and other related subjects.
With 62 years of history behind it, the College is a private and aided institution affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University and managed by Kalaithanthai Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar Memorial Trust.
The college spans over a total area of 13 acres with a sprawling coverage of rare trees. It is situated on the banks of the historical Vaigai river. On the southern side, it is flanked by the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakkulam.
The motto of the college is which when translated means “Wisdom and Love is God”.
The mission of the college is to render dedicated and yeoman service for the cause of higher education, especially for the weaker sections of the society. Its learner-centric syllabi and innovative curriculum give students opportunities to meet the challenges of the contemporary corporate and academic world. The faculty contributes to the overall improvement of the college in the fields of infrastructure, information and computer technology aids, extension activities and welfare programmes.
With the significant contribution from the founder, Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar, and the committed service and support of the members of his family, Dr. Mrs. Radha Thiagarajan (Emeritus President), Mr. Karumuttu T. Kannan (The President) and Dr. Mrs. Uma Kannan (The Secretary), the college has come a long way from the time of its inception.
Employability, along with academic excellence, is the focal point of the institution. It aims to spread quality education, fostering excellence in research and promoting academic inquiry. It was recognised as a Research Centre of Excellence in 1978 and was upgraded as an autonomous institution in 1987. In 1998 the UG coures became co-educational. It was first accredited with Five Stars by National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2001 and was re-accredited with ‘A’ Grade in 2007.
Among the staff, 65 are doctorates; 34 are recognised guides; 81 are M.Phil. and 25 have degrees in subjects other than their major areas. More than 60 members have presented papers in national and international conferences. Some are involved in international mega projects and many have published more than 100 research papers on various titles.
Among the alumni of the college, there are many who now hold successful positions in society. There are many judges including one Supreme Court Judge, Vice-Chancellors, entrepreneurs, scientists, legislators, poets, writers and countless teachers
The college has an Internal Quality Assurance Cell that insists on collaborative excellence to inculcate multi-faceted personality development.
Every year students bring many credits at national level in NCC, NSS, academic and cultural activities.