With Government permission received on April 29, 2013, and with hopes of beginning the University in a small way in 2014, it is worthwhile to understand how we got to this point. This short write-up is not a detailed history of the events leading to the founding of the university. Fr. Adam Pereira, CSC, has assembled such an outline. This rather is a picture of the different influences that have brought us this far.
Very early in the history of the educational ministry of Holy Cross Fathers in Bangladesh, there was a talk of starting a University. The Notre Dame College was then staffed almost exclusively by expatriate missionaries who came with advanced degrees in hand to teach. The College began in 1949 at the Intermediate level and in the years to the Liberation War (1971) was small in size and well-staffed with such missionaries.
After Independence everything changed to Bengali-medium and almost all of the expatriates withdrew and there were only then a few local CSC priests called to do a variety of ministries. The College got down to 2 men full-time. Any thought of a university was long gone. There was concern to keep the college going.
The question of a university rose again on a variety of tracks:
If this were implemented, the College (Notre Dame) would need to be changed completely. The present classes 11 and 12 would only be the last two years of high school. A fourth year would have to be added to the present three-year degree (pass) course. The College started planning how classes 9 and 10 could be added and what it would mean for the College to be a high school.
The crucial question was adding another year to the degree program. With the gaps in the system, the four years would take six or more years.
The Holy Cross Fathers began to think that if we were able to start a private university, we could create our own syllabus, hold our own exams, confer our own degrees and do four years in four years.
When it became known that we were thinking again about it, a number of people came forward to encourage us: Education leaders, Community leaders, College Alumni, the Papal Nuncio (Archbishop Joseph Marino), Government people, the German Embassy, etc.
The idea picked up impetus. We felt that, with help from Notre Dame College, the idea might be feasible. Maybe we would start small and let it grow. We became more optimistic.
We soon realized what a complicated process was involved in making application to the University Grants Commission, securing in the University’s name land donated by the College, establishing the required reserve fund.
The final application when fully completed is a book almost 6 inches thick.
We have finally received permission, secured the land, made a design for the University Building and are putting together the practical aspects of beginning, especially working out with the College the details of sharing space, finances, scheduling, etc.
The effort is underway to seek the funding to build the University building, looking at both foreign and local benefactors.
We have come this far and are determined and committed to go forward. We count on the blessings of God and the help of many interested supporters. Notre Dame University Bangladesh is a long-cherished dream coming true. There is still so much work ahead of us but we keep reminding ourselves that “If there is a will, there is a way”. We, with the support and encouragement of many, have the will and are seeking the way.