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Pioneer alumni of IIT Madras institute Prof. S Sampath Chair

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
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Chennai: The Prof. S. Sampath Endowment Fund for an “Institute Chair” at IIT Madras is an alumni-driven initiative that was launched in 2011, and was recently rejuvenated when Mallik Putcha, of the 1st graduating class of 1964, contributed $ 50 K to the IIT Madras Foundation and $ 2.5 K to the IIT Madras Alumni Association of North America in 2016.

Currently, the Fund has a balance exceeding Rs. 50 Lakhs, the required Endowment for an Institute Chair at IIT Madras. This Chair is an attempt by students of Prof. Sampath to honor the “Gem of a Man” who had molded them to be excellent engineers and citizens of the World. The first occupant of the Prof. S Sampath Endowed Chair will be Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Padma Shri Awardee and faculty member in the Department of Electrical Engineering. An event honoring Prof. Sampath is planned on his 92nd birthday- April 16, 2017. 
During his time at IITM from 1961-75, it is estimated that Prof. Sampath had touched the lives of about 3000 students first as a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and later in various leadership roles such as Warden of Narmada Hostel, Chairman, Council of Wardens, and the first Deputy Director of IIT Madras. He lived by the principles of “Nishkama Karma” (selfless actions with no expectations) by helping multitudes of students, faculty, and professionals in various organizations such as BEL, UPSC, DRDO, IIT Kanpur, and Sai Institute. Due to his adherence to these principles, he has proved that “the good that men do lives after them”. 

Professor Sampath was an eloquent speaker who charmed his audiences by his command of English and the felicity of his delivery. Students enjoyed and benefited by his clarity of thought and presentation, as evident from his popular lectures. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and gentle person, who gave his very best and contributed to the growth and development of the Institute in many ways. Professor Sampath held a special place among all students as someone who was especially accessible.

Shri Mallik Putcha, the prime mover behind the Prof. S Sampath Endowed “Institute Chair” is proud of this launch, and already has other plans in mind to honor the Founding Professors—German and Indian—who served IIT Madras at the time of the Institute’s start of operations (on June 22, 1959), and to institutionalize the establishment of Chairs to honor the Professors. In his own words, “with the establishment of Prof. Sampath’s Chair, we are indeed honoring a “Nishkama Yogi” for his distinguished services to technology and education, as well as for molding and crafting his students as better human beings.”

Prof. Sampath’s brother and Distinguished Fellow at the Indian Institute of Science, Prof. S Ranganathan, is gratified at this gesture of his brother’s former students, stating that “Sampath was held in great affection and admiration by his family. His brilliant academic record was an example followed by his siblings. It is a proud moment as earlier S Sampath Chair was instituted at IITK in 2006 and was hailed by Prof E C Subbarao as an academic watershed. It was one of the first such Chairs to be established in the Indian Higher Technical Education Ecosystem and followed the earlier example of such chairs in IISc initiated by Prof. C N R Rao.”

Prof. R Nagarajan, Dean of International & Alumni Relations at IIT Madras, is delighted at this effort by the first batches of alumni to honor the Institute’s first faculty members, who were “the backbone behind IITM’s rapid rise to global prominence. Today, if IITs and their alumni command huge respect everywhere, we have these visionaries to thank. We hope more alumni will follow this lead, and pay tribute to the faculty of their times.”

Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, adds that “Prof. Sampath was among the pioneers who laid the solid foundations and set the stage for the rapid growth of IIT Madras in later years. Students of his time from across the Institute, and not just the Electrical Engineering department where he taught, will remember him as a teacher and mentor who left an indelible mark in their lives.” 
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