Until 1936, when Odisha was made into a separate province, all its colleges   were under the   jurisdiction of either Patna University or Andhra University. Subsequently,  the Government of Odisha, headed by Shri Biswanath  Dash,  the  then  Prime   Minister;       appointed  a   committee  on  2nd March    1938  with  Pandit    Nilakantha Das as its Chairman to examine the possibility of establishing a separate university in Odisha. Then, during the premiership      of Maharaja    Krushna  Chandra  Gajapati, who played a pioneering  role  in  the  establishment   of  the   University,   the   recommendations of  this  committee  were  made  available.

Pandit   Godavarish Mishra,    the then Minister of   Education,   introduced the   Utkal University Bill, which    was passed by the Odisha Legislative Assembly on 30th June 1943. On  receiving the Governor’s assent on 2nd August  1943,  the  Utkal  University  Act,  1943 came  into  force,  clearing  the way  for  the foundation  of Utkal  University on 27th  November  1943.  The University started functioning from this date   in room no. 15 of Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. The Utkal  University Act,  1943 did  not  specify  clearly  the   territorial  jurisdiction  of  the  University.   However, its jurisdiction was extended to include the princely states of Odisha by an agreement between the rulers of these princely states and the Government of Odisha. According to the agreement, adequate representation of  the  princely states in  the  administrative  and  academic  bodies  of  the  University  was ensured. The Utkal University Act, 1943 was amended in 1947 defining the territorial jurisdiction of the University, which was subsequently extended to the   whole   state   of   Odisha   in 1950.   Dr.   Pranakrushna  Parija,   the     then Principal of Ravenshaw College, Cuttack was the first Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Mr. V. V. John, the  then  Assistant  Professor  of  English, Ravenshaw College was its first Registrar.

The University, to start with, functioned mainly as an affiliating body. But  soon  afterwards,  in 1949,  it  took  over  the  management of  the  under-  graduate  Department  of  Law  from  Ravenshaw  College, Cuttack and established its  first  constituent  college  now  known  as Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack.  In  1956,  the  second  phase  of  its expansion began with the opening  of  the  Post-Graduate  Department  of Geology in  Ravenshaw  College  Campus  and  an  Engineering  College  at Burla, Sambalpur. The  Department of  Rural  Economics  and  Sociology was also started in the  same  year  with  a  generous  grant  from  the  Ford Foundation. In 1957, Post-Graduate Departments of Philosophy and Sanskrit were established in the premises of the Burdwan House in Cuttack. The same  year,  the  University  office  was  shifted  to  the  Circuit  House  in Cuttack. The University in the initial phases provided new facilities for post- graduate studies only in those subjects which were not taught at Ravenshaw College at that time.  In  1958,  the  Post-  Graduate  Departments  of Psychology,  Statistics,  Political  Science  and  Anthropology  were  set  up. While the first three Departments were housed in the premises of Ravenshaw College, the Department of Anthropology was accommodated in a rented house in Bhubaneswar. The University took over the Post-Graduate Department of History from Ravenshaw College in 1959.  Post-Graduate studies in Zoology and Commerce were introduced in 1960 and 1962 respectively.  The Research Department   of   rural   Economics   and Sociology was   established   in   1956   and   introduced   Post-Graduate    courses in Applied Economics in the year 1963. It was subsequently renamed the Department of Analytical and Applied Economics.

Around this time, a movement for the creation of regional universities started   in   different    parts of Orissa. In response to this, the government of Odisha appointed the State University   Committee   in   1962   with   Dr. P.  Parija, the   then Vice-Chancellor of Utkal     University, as the Chairman. On the recommendation of the Committee, two more universities were created, one at Sambalpur and   another   at Berhampur.  The Utkal University Act, 1943 was suitably amended in response   to the new situation.   The two new Universities at Sambalpur and Berhampur came into existence with effect from 1st January 1967,   the date   from   which the new Utkal University Act came into force. The jurisdiction of Utkal University, which had earlier covered the whole of Orissa, was redefined in the new legislation.

After   the  establishment   of  the  two   new   universities,  the  management of  the  Evening  Colleges  at  Cuttack,  Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Berhampur were  taken  over  by  the  State  Government.  The Engineering College at Burla was handed over to Sambalpur University.   Utkal   University opened   a  few other Post-Graduate Departments such  as  Mathematics,  Physics,  Chemistry, Botany,  Oriya  and  English  during  the  years  1966-69 in  its   new   campus  at Vani    Vihar.  The   Department   of   Sociology  and   Labour Welfare  was   set  up in 1970, which in 1974 was split into the Department of Sociology and the Department  of  Labour  Welfare  (now  re-named   as   the   Department   of Personnel  Management  and  Industrial  Relations).   The   Department   of Geography was opened in 1970.

The Post-Graduate Department of Law (LL.M.) was started in the year 1973. The Department of Geology, which was functioning earlier in Ravenshaw College, was shifted to Vani Vihar in 1977. The Departments of Library and Information   Science   and   Business   Administration    were    opened in 1981 and 1984 respectively. A Computer   Center   was   established   initially with   an IBM- 1130 computer   donated   by the University    Grants   Commission in 1970,   which has subsequently been replaced by an WIPRO-LANDMARK   system at a cost of Rs. 16   lakh   provided   later by the   UGC.   The   Computer   Center,   while facilitating   research   work   undertaken    by    various    departments    of   the University earlier, offered a Post- B.Sc. Diploma Course (DCA) in Computer Application   from   1983   to   1997.   In   1990   the   University    opened the Department of Computer Science and Applications. After the separation of the Computer Centre from the Department of Computer Science and Applications in 1998, the Centre is now functioning under the direct administrative control of the P.G. Council. Chairperson, P.G. Council is the Prof-in-Charge of the Centre. New buildings for the Computer Centre, Academic Staff College and Jubilee building have been constructed. Besides, new buildings have been constructed for the Department of Pharmacy, Integrated   MCA   Department,   Population   Research Centre and the Department   of Womens’   Studies.   In 1996,   Departments   of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Public Administration   were carved out of History and Political Science Departments respectively. A new Biotechnology   department   started   functioning   from   2002   in   the    P.G. Department of Zoology. 

At   present,   the   University   has   twenty-seven post-graduate   teaching and research departments in the campus. The University has also offered 15 sponsored   courses,   and   three   UGC   sponsored   innovative    programmes besides   three   constituent   institutions:   Directorate   of    Distance    and Continuing Education, University Law College at Vani  Vihar  and  M.S.  Law College at Cuttack.

Seventeen P.G. Departments of the University have been granted Departmental Research Support/Centre of Advance Studies status by the University Grants Commission.  During  the  Xlth  Plan  period  the  University Grants Commission has accorded Colleges with  Potential  for Excellence (CPE) status to five colleges under the University which  entitles  them  to  receive significant        funding support from     the Commission.

In 1998, two more  universities –  North  Odisha  University  and  Fakir Mohan University-came into being to meet  regional  aspirations  and  facilitate further  development  of  higher  education.  Utkal  ·  University  has   now jurisdiction over 9 districts, namely Angul, Cuttack, Dhenkanal,  Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Nayagarh and Puri. Thus, the University exercises   territorial   jurisdiction   over   an   area   measuring   24,973   sq. kilometers and caters to the for higher education needs of a population of more than 110 lakh.

Utkal University Hisory Milestones