Early History of the Idea of a University in Baroda
The idea of establishing a University at Baroda had engaged the attention of the Government of the former State of Baroda and its educational advisers long before the question of regional universities and decentralisation, reorganisation and reconditioning of higher education to suit the cultural educational needs of particular areas had taken root in the country. The concept was first visualized by Dr. Jackson, when, as Principal of the Baroda College in the 1908, he advocated the establishment of a Science Institute at Baroda on an improved and independent basis. It was a consistent policy of the Government of Baroda to subject its educational system to periodical inquiries of a searching nature by educational experts of international fame, as a result of which the first Commission was appointed in 1909. The principal recommendation of that Commission was to expand the activities of the Baroda College by establishing additional chairs in new branches of knowledge. As a result of this policy of chalking out untrodden paths in higher education and thereby evolving a university atmosphere in Baroda, chairs of Comparative Region and Household Science were instituted. Prof. Widgery and Mrs. Strong were appointed to hold these chairs. In 1916, the educational policy of the State was again reviewed. As a part of this inquiry, one of the members of the Commission, Shri S.V.Mukerjea, prepared a minute of recommendations and in his note he definitely advocated the establishment of a University at Baroda. In 1919 the matter was brought to the forefront by the appointment of yet another Committee consisting of the late Principal Clarke, Prof. Widgery and Shri N. K. Dixit, the then Educational Commissioner of the State. The Committee drew up an elaborate report in favour of civic University at Baroda. Thereafter, Prof. P. Sheshadri of the Benares Hindu University was requested to lay out a scheme for a University at Baroda. Prof. Widgery also submitted a scheme for a State University on the lines of the smaller German Universities. During this period , Her Highness Shrimant Maharani Chimnabai Saheb, the Maharani Gaekwad of Baroda, offered a princely donation for running a Women's University at Baroda. But as Sir Manubhai Mehta, the then Dewan of Baroda, pointed out in one of his speeches, "the time was not ripe then for idea to germinate."