The adage, “lighting many lamps” aptly describes Dr. Mrs. Elizabeth Verghese, Chairperson, Hindustan Group of Institutions (HGI), who has touched the lives of thousands of children, especially girls. Most of these children are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and have dropped out of the formal education system.
Her husband – a visionary, Late Dr. K.C.G. Verghese dreamt “To make every man a success and no man a failure.” The story of the Hindustan Group has inspired several young students passing out of its portals. A determined Dr. Verghese established one of India’s most hugely popular vocational training institutes – Hindustan Institute of Engineering Technology (HIET) in 1966, and the first private engineering college – Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science (HITS) in 1985.
The Hindustan Community College (HCC) is the result of Dr. Mrs. Verghese’s desire to help children. It was established in 2010 under the Tamil Nadu Open University and with the Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education (ICRDCE).
HCC has helped many poor and marginalised students to come to the mainstream of society and has brought about their social upliftment through vocational education and training. Today, thousands of students have been equipped with vocational skills for employment and small business development, which has benefitted the society as a whole.
Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Chennai
Dr. Mrs. Verghese, is a multi-faceted personality and a true example of a progressive Indian woman. Her focus has been to impart quality education and has taken the unique initiative to globalise education by establishing links with global universities.
She is the First Woman Engineer in the Tamil Nadu Highways Department (1965) and is a pioneer among woman Chancellors in the private sector education in India. When very few women ventured into civil engineering, she completed her degree from Trivandrum Engineering College, Kerala, at 23. She completed her Post Graduate in Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani and obtained her Doctorate in Education from Cosmopolitan University & Research Institute, the USA.
After an unblemished service of 35-years in the Tamil Nadu Government Highways Department, she retired as Joint Chief Engineer in 2000. In her tenure, many bridges, roads and highway projects were built, including the Pamban Bridge at Rameshwaram, Cauvery, Coloroon and Palar.
During her tenure as Divisional Engineer in the 1990s, she gained experience running an educational institution when she was deputed to Hindustan College of Engineering as “Project Director” for 5-years. Her husband, Dr. K.C.G. Verghese, established HIET with her constant support, even while she was in full-time Government Service. After his demise, she took over the reins of the group of institutions and seamlessly steered it to further success.
A dynamic personality, she is also a Member of CASA – Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action - an NGO, member of the Christian Ecumenical Fellowship, Honor Roll Member of Y’s Men International and member of the Indo-Australian Association. She is also involved in various professional bodies like Indian Road Congress (Life Member), Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), Institution of Bridge Engineers, Horticulture Society of Tamil Nadu, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers India and Member of International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), United States. She is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of the Dr. KCG Verghese Charitable Foundation (2007), which gives financial assistance and scholarships to many poor and deserving students for pursuing their education and provides medical aid to the needy. She has been a philanthropist contributing to many communities, churches and social service initiatives.
During the Chennai floods, the foundation donated Rs. 65 lakh to the Chief Minister Flood relief fund and Rs. 25 lakhs to the Chief Minister of Kerala for his disaster relief fund during the Kerala floods. During this ongoing Corona pandemic, the foundation contributed more than Rs.50 lakh towards the “Tamil Nadu CM Relief Fund” and helped supply relief materials to the needy migrant workers.
Dr. Mrs. Verghese has been recognised in many forums for her contribution to education and has received several awards for the same. Among the state level awards, the prominent ones are – “India Icon 2020” – The iconic person award presented to her by ICT Academy, Tamil Nadu on 26th February 2020; and the “MMA award for Managerial Excellence” in the Education category, in 2008.
She was also bestowed with National Awards like – “The Vidhya Vachaspati Award” for excellence in education by Y’s Men International South Indian region in 2012 and 2013; “Edupreneurs Life Time Achievement Award” by The Times Group for exemplary commitment and impactful positive contribution to education in Tamil Nadu; “The Most Enterprising Chancellor of the year Award” during the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Awards, 2014; The “Woman Super Achiever Award 2013” by Asian Education Leadership Awards Dubai; and the “Indo Australian Award for Meritorious Service in Education 2014”.
She is ably assisted by her two sons (Engineers) and her daughter (Ophthalmologist). She has successfully balanced her professional and personal lives.