It is the 6th oldest university in India and the oldest in the state of Karnataka. It was established in 1916 by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, after two of his educational experts C. R. Reddy and Thomas Denham, undertook a five-year study of higher education around the world. The structure of the university was designed after a thorough analysis of the functioning of those universities that had as their chief aim the promotion of original research (University of Chicago), those that laid emphasis on the extension of knowledge among the people (University of Wisconsin), and those that combined intellectualism with an educational system calculated to give training for political and social life (University of Oxford and Cambridge). H. V. Nanjundaiah who played a key role in establishing the university was elected by the Maharaja of Mysore to run the University as the first Vice Chancellor, and he held the post until his death in 1920. Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya, the Dewan of Mysore at the time, also played a major role in its promotion. It was inaugurated on 27 July 1916. Maharaja College of Mysore and the Central College of Bangalore, which were previously affiliated to Madras University, became part of the new university. The Act was amended in 1933 and 1939 to make the senate representative of public life and to establish the academic council responsible for the academic affairs of the university.
During the reorganization of Mysore state 1956, the Mysore University Act was passed, which made the university an autonomous body. In 1960, the university's graduate centre was set up in the picturesque environs of the Kukkarahalli lake. The national poet and the Jnanpith Award winner, K. V. Puttappa (Kuvempu), a former Vice-Chancellor of the University, christened this campus `Manasagangotri', meaning the eternal spring of the mind. Bangalore University was carved out in 1964 starting with Central College, Bangalore and the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering. Mangalore University was formed out of the colleges in Dakshina Kannada in 1980. The act of 1956 was replaced by Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000 which came into force on 13 Sep 2001. Under the new act the senate has been abolished. It is one of the oldest university in India.
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