Mar Athanasius College, situated in Kothamangalam, Kerala, boasts a rich history of providing education to generations of students, shaping their lives economically, socially, and culturally. Established under the Mar Athanasius College Association, the institution was conceived by a group of visionaries led by its first Association Secretary Prof. M.P. Varghese.
The idea of starting an Arts college under the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church had been brewing among responsible church members for a considerable period. In the early days, Sri. Parameshwara Panikar, the Vice-chancellor of Kerala University, initiated the idea of starting this college to enhance education in Kothamangalam. This concept was warmly embraced by Sri. M. Varkey, the then M.L.A of Kothamangalam, who played a crucial role in bringing the idea to fruition. A formal request for the formation of the college was submitted to the M.G University on January 20, 1950, signed by His Grace Paulose Mar Athanasius. Following this, an executive committee was formed, and on August 13, 1953, the Mar Athanasius College Association was officially established. The inaugural meeting on 13th August 1953, elected His Grace Paulose Mar Philexinos as Chairman, Dr. T.P. Thomas as Vice Chairman, P.J. Varkey as Treasurer, Prof. M.P. Varghese as Secretary, and Fr. Issac Maliyil, N.M. Chacko, Sri P. Abraham as executive committee members.
In 1953, the Kerala government granted permission for the official establishment of Mar Athanasius College. Despite encountering challenges and financial hurdles, the management successfully completed building and other necessary facilities. The college commenced operations with intermediate classes, comprising 127 students and 15 teachers on 14 July 1955. On October 30, 1956, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, the Emperor of Ethiopia, formally inaugurated the college. This marked a significant milestone in the history of Kothamangalam, ushering in a new era of education.
In 1958, postgraduate classes were introduced, setting the stage for further academic expansion. Prof. George Thomas M.A served as the first Principal followed by Prof. V.M. Geevarghese (1960-63) during these formative years. In 1963, the college experienced a notable change with the addition of new buildings, expanding its academic offerings. Mar Athanasius College marked a significant milestone with its Decennial Celebrations, commemorating a decade of academic existence. Prof. M.P. Varghese, the Principal from 1963 to 1982 ushered in a lot of changes the decades, transcending challenges and achieving remarkable milestones in the field of education. In the following years, Mar Athanasius College continued to evolve under the leadership of various Principals, including, Prof. T.M. Paily (1982-90), Prof. E.M. Paulose (1990-92), Prof. M. K. Babu (1992-96) and Dr. K.C Rajan (1996-97).
Dr. Winny Varghese served as the Principal of the college from 2000 to 2011. He played a pivotal role in enhancing the infrastructural facilities and elevating the standard of the college. He was honoured with Dr. Sam Higginbottom Award for the best principal of India (2009) instituted by All India Association for Christian Higher Education (AIACHE), New Delhi. During this period, the college received accreditation with an 'A Grade' from NAAC, marking a significant achievement. The college has the rare distinction of being the first college in Kerala to be accredited with an 'A' grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2002. The 'A' grade was retained in 2010, the second cycle of accreditation. The 'College with Potential for Excellence' status was conferred in 2009 and was later extended up to 31st March 2019 by the UGC. In 2016, Mar Athanasius College achieved Autonomous status, a monumental milestone in its history. Acknowledging the achievements of the college, in its third cycle of accreditation in 2017, NAAC accorded an 'A+' grade to the institution with a CGPA of 3.52. In 2019, the college was one of the seventeen colleges in India to receive five crores rupees under the RUSA scheme to usher transformative reforms in the higher education system. The institution's commitment to excellence is evident in its continuous evolution, technological integration, and academic achievements, solidifying its place among the top educational institutions in India. The college further garnered accolades by being ranked 87th, 56th, and 86th in NIRF college rankings for the years 2023, 2022, and 2021, respectively. Presently, Mar Athanasius College offers five Ph.D. programs, eighteen postgraduate courses, and fifteen undergraduate courses, maintaining a reputation for top-notch infrastructure facilities. In recent years, under the leadership of Principals like Dr. Leena George (2011-2015), Dr. Densley Jose (2015-20), and Dr. Shanti A Avirah (2020-22), the college introduced new postgraduate programs and UGC-sponsored Add-on certificate courses to meet the growing demand. Currently, Dr. Manju Kurian serves as the principal of Mar Athanasius College, continuing the institution's legacy of academic excellence and holistic development. She was honoured in 2023 with Berchmans Award and Fr. Dr. Jose Thekkan Award for the best teacher in the State instituted by Kuwait Alumni Chapter of SB College Changanassery and Christ College Irinjalakuda respectively.
Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam, has evolved over the decades, transcending challenges and achieving remarkable milestones in the field of education. From its inception in 1950 to its present status as an autonomous institution with a diverse range of academic offerings, the college continues to stand as a symbol of educational excellence in Kerala. The commitment of its founders, the dedication of its leadership, and the hard work of generations of students and faculty have collectively shaped the rich history of Mar Athanasius College.