Opinion
A tribute
Dr. Stanley Kalpage

I pay this tribute to Dr. Stanley Kalpage, whose first death anniversary falls on December 16, 2001. I had known Dr. Kalpage since 1967 as an undergraduate of University of Peradeniya but had the opportunity to work for him when he was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission.

All those who worked with him in the UGC would remember him as a grade administrator and the extent to which Dr. Kalpage worked to develop the higher education system. He was an outstanding person with brilliant managerial skills, resourceful and sharp in argument. Dr. Kalpage had a brilliant academic career.

He obtained a BSc. (Chemistry Hons.) in 1947 and did his Ph.D in Agricultural Chemistry at the University of London. Dr. Kalpage was the Head of Agricultural Chemistry of the University of Ceylon. During the period 1974-1977, Dr. Kalpage served the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur as the professor of Soil Science. His contribution to the academic world was immense. He authored several publications and published a number of scientific and research articles in Sri Lankan, Malaysian, and international journals on topics such as Science and Technology, Higher Education, Agricultural Development, Rice Production, Fertilizer use, Nutrition of Tea, Rubber and Coconut, Oil Palm, Soil Fertility and Management.

The most significant development in higher education in March 1978 was the creation of a separate Ministry of Higher Education. Dr. Kalpage was appointed the Secretary to the newly established Ministry. He was also appointed as the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission.

The UGC was given the responsibility for the preparation of a new Universities Act to create a number of autonomous universities instead of the monolithic Universities of Sri Lanka consisting of six campuses and six institutes. In his capacity as the Secretary to the Ministry and the Chairman of the UGC, Dr. Kalpage was largely responsible for administering policies concerning the universities and other institutions of higher learning. Dr. Kalpage and his team was responsible for responding to the needs of an expanding demand for higher education.

The establishment of the Open University in 1980 offering a variety of courses of study was a landmark in the history of higher education in Sri Lanka. On the advice of the Standing Committees, the UGC made a number of decisions regarding courses and Departments of Study and the composition of faculties.

Dr. Kalpage took a number of steps for the promotion of computer awareness and for the study of Computing and Computer Science in several universities. An Inter University Committee on Computing was established as recommended in the report by Prof. Colin Reeves of the University of Keele, U.K.

The Ruhuna Keele link programme was established and several workshops were conducted for members of academic staff on the development of teaching material required for the development of computing in the universities. As a matter of national priority, computing was introduced to all universities in Sri Lanka.

Another significant development of the higher education system during Dr. Kalpage’s regime was the establishment of the Ruhuna University Colleges in 1979 and the establishment of Batticaloa University College in 1981.

Ruhuna University College was given full university status in February 1984. Batticaloa University College was given university status with effect from October 1986. The University Services Appeals Board was established, a judicial body, independent of the UGC and the universities, serving as a final board of appeal against decisions of the UGC and the Councils of Universities in all disciplinary matters and in the redress of grievances with regard to appointments, promotions and related problems.

In 1989, Dr. Kalpage was appointed as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India. From 1991-1994 he was the permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations. In 1993. Dr. Kalpage was awarded with Deshamanya award for outstanding and distinguished service to Sri Lanka. I have listed above some of the major contributions of Dr. Kalpage to the development of higher education in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Kalpage took a keen interest in these developments and worked untiringly to ensure their improvements. He was a demanding administrator who acknowledged the hard work of those who worked with him. The understanding he had on higher education was very wide and invaluable. His academic brilliance coupled with superb administrative ability enabled him to contribute well to the development of higher education in this country.

The loss of a valued person like Dr. Kalpage cannot be expressed adequately in words. The intensity of my own feeling and to pay a tribute to the work and faithful services rendered by him to our university system cannot be captured adequately in this appreciation.
Chitra Karunaratne


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