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India's first Jesuit university opens academic year

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The Jesuit-run St. Xavier's College in in eastern India's Kolkata city began functioning as the nation's first Jesuit university on July 7, opening its first academic year 6 months after achieving the new status. West Bengal state chief minister Mamata Banerjee unveiled the plague of the new building of St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, along with business tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, a former student of St. Xavier's College who funded the building.

"Education makes one a real human being. Minority institutions have a very vital and important role," said the chief minister commending quality education imparted by missionary institutions such as by Christians and Ramakrishna Mission. "I believe, in three-four years, St Xavier's would be able to compete with institutions like Harvard and Oxford,"" she added.

The university as well as the college is named after the 16th century Spanish missionary and co-founder of the Jesuits, St. Francis Xavier. Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta blessed the marble statue of St. Xavierafter a short prayer at the entrance, marking the opening of the first academic session of the university.

The 157-year-old St. Xavier's College was allowed to build a university in New Town, a satellite city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), last December when the West Bengal state legislature unanimously passed "The St. Xavier's University, Kolkata Bill 2016."

Jesuit Father Felix Raj, vice chancellor of the university, told the gathering that they could not have achieved this milestone without the support of many people. Welcoming the new students, he said, "We shall try the best to form them as men and women for others. It is only the beginning and we will slowly grow," he added. The first batch will start with the BCom, MCom, Masters in Social Work, Masters in Mass Communication and Masters in English courses.

Mittal, who owns a multi-billion-dollar steel company based in the United Kingdom, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel-making company, shared his "unforgettable interaction" with some of his Jesuit professors and lauded the formation he received in the college. He helped fund the six-story academic block in the 6.8-hectare campus that was opened along with new academic year.

The college also plans to have two separate hostels for men and women, each with a capacity of housing 1,000 students.

(Source: UCAN)

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