Ravenshaw’s aspiration to rise as “the University of Orissa” received its public expression for the first time in a report presented by H. Lambert Esqre, who was the Principal of Ravenshaw College, on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the Ravenshaw College on 5 April 1922. “With the occupation of the these magnificient buildings, with the higher teaching we now give and with the still higher education we hope to give in the near future, we are approaching appreciably nearer to one of our aims, viz. the establishment of the University of Orissa. Before we can hope to this dignity, however, we must have the highest teaching possible in more subjects than the one we contemplate at present, and I commend as a most worthy object for private generosity the endowment of chairs for M.A. teaching.” [Opening ceremony of the Ravenshaw College]. Lambert was, however, reiterating the words of Sir Edward Gait, Lt. Governor of Bihar-Orissa Province, who, while laying the foundation stone of Ravenshaw College on 11 November 1919, had wished for a “separate University with its own character”. 

Ravenshaw College was affiliated to Calcutta University in 1876. But the affiliation was restricted for a limited number of courses such as English, Vernacular Composition, Sanskrit, Persian, Logic, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Chemistry and Botany. The affiliation of the College was transferred to Patna University on 1 October 1917. For the first time officers of Indian Educational Service (IES) grade were assigned to Ravenshaw College. New faculty arrived and teaching and research activities gained momentum. Amid the outbreak of World War I and later the Non-cooperation movement, the College continued to provide a stimulating environment for the young students. The faculty and students were immersed in the activities of the college as well as social causes. A number of magazines came to be published, the most popular of which was The Ravenshavian [Insert link].

In the midst of it all, the architect A. M. Millwood started work on the design for Ravenshaw College. The early buildings which came up as a result were the college main block (the Arts block), the physical laboratory, the chemistry laboratory, two hostels, and a few residential quarters for the Principal and the Professors [Insert pdf, Building plan].

Soon, Ravenshaw College, because of the activities of its faculty and students, became a driving force in the civic and political life of the state of Orissa. The famous literary movement called Sabuja juga was born through the writings of young students (of the College) such as Annadashankar Roy, Kalindicharan panigrahi, Baikunthanath Patnaik, Saratchandra Mukherjee and Harihar Mahapatra; the Utkal Sahitya Samaj often had faculty members of Ravenshaw College as speakers; the great Professor Jogesh Chandra Ray, who introduced Samanta Chandra Sekhar’s great work, the astronomical treatise Siddhanta Darpana to the world, was honoured by the oldest learned society of Odisha, the Puri Mukti Mandap which conferred on him the title ‘Vidyanidhi’.

When Ravenshaw College celebrated its golden jubilee in 1926, it already had a band of loyal Ravenshavians who, in adoration of their experiences of their alma mater, got together to form an Old Boys’ Association. Hostel life, which began with the establishment of the East, West and Muhammadan hostels, added glamour to the life of the students who were infused with the spirit of camaraderie. The students of Ravenshaw College were looked upon as a class of first citizens of sorts who could play an important role in building up a strong Orissa province, and so they did. The students reached out to the society in various ways: through the activities of the Social Service Guild, they volunteered to teach at the Adult (Evening) School, coordinated and conducted relief work during the floods in Orissa, formed a Cremation Association to take charge of the cremation of dead bodies.

Ravenshaw College celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 18 January 1936. On 1 April 1936, the new province of Orissa came into being. It was in the Ravenshaw College Hall (now called Heritage Hall) that Sir John Austin Hubback was administered the oath of office of the Governor of Orissa. In the euphoria that followed, new practices of community and social life were introduced which gave a distinct character to Ravenshaw College. The first Provincial Durbar was held in the College Hall on 9 January 1937. Soon after, the first Legislative Assembly of Orissa started operating from the College Hall from 28 July 1937. Ravenshaw College had become the symbol of a young vibrant State and for the whole year of 1937, the College played host to several high-profile gatherings, festivities and celebrations. When the Assembly was in session, the legislative members shared rooms with the students in the hostels. Understandably, the young students were inspired and soon founded a ‘mock assembly’ and conducted regular sessions.