India’s dream to become the global torchbearer of knowledge rests on the shoulders of a chosen few who’ve devoted their life to the advancement of education. One such inspiring story is that of the founder of Vels University, Dr. Ishari K Ganesh.
With “Knowledge is Power” as its motto, the Vels University was founded with the goal of democratizing higher education for all, including marginalized sections.
The Vels Institute of Science, Technology & Advanced Studies (VISTAS), also known as Vels University, is one of the most respected names in higher education, ranking among the top private educational institutions in India. Today, it has more than 30,000 domestic and international students, 6000 staff members, a dozen research centers and 36 institutions. The University offers a multitude of undergraduate, postgraduate, and diploma courses in popular fields – engineering, computer science, law, and physiotherapy – as well as those in emerging fields – music & fine arts, maritime studies, and Vedic astrology. Vels’ exponential growth over three decades can be attributed to its novel teaching methodology, state-of-the-art learning facilities, campus placement record and most of all, the unflinching commitment and zeal of its founder-chancellor, Dr. Ishari K. Ganesh.
The Humble Origins of Dr. Ganesh’s Noble Legacy
Like the mighty banyan tree which begins life as a tiny seed, Vels University had a humble start when Dr. Ishari K. Ganesh – himself fresh out of university – set up the Vels Educational Trust in 1992 and started the Vels College of Pharmacy. Thus began the long, illustrious journey of Vels University – from a rented building with 36 students and 10 members of staff. Never one to rest on his laurels, Dr. Ganesh made sure the institution went from strength to strength with the establishment of the Vels Colleges of Physiotherapy and Arts & Sciences in 1993 and Vels Institute of Hotel Management in 1996. Notably, the Vels Academy of Maritime Studies was the first private institute in India to offer maritime and nautical science courses in India.
Dr. Ganesh’s dream of establishing a university equipped with world-class facilities was finally accomplished in 2008.
In 2008, various institutions under Vels Group were integrated and granted “Deemed-to-be-University” status by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Thus came into existence the present Vels University.
Watch: The Inspiring Life Story of Vels University Founder-Chancellor Dr. Ishari Ganesh
Today, Vels University has a multi-disciplinary campus spread across 29 acres, fully equipped with smart class-rooms, laboratories, auditoriums, recreational spaces, and separate hostel accommodation for men and women. In keeping with the spirit of empowering underprivileged sections through education, students benefit from a fee waiver and as many as 265 students from economically weaker backgrounds avail themselves of a scholarship programme every academic year.
The Man on a Mission to Transform the Indian Society
Like all mighty achievements, the idea of setting up an institution providing quality, affordable education germinated in one man’s head — Dr. Ishari K. Ganesh, founder-chancellor of Vels University and Chairman of the Vels Group of Institutions.
It was the vision of his father, the late Tamil actor and politician Isari Velan, that inspired Dr. Ganesh to lay the foundations of Vels University. Though to the thousands of young people studying at Vels, he is simply the founder-chancellor of their university and a revered educationist, Dr. Ganesh is also a philanthropist, environmentalist, sports enthusiast, and business tycoon. Apart from running a network of educational institutions spread across Indian states and in Singapore and the United Kingdom, Dr. Ganesh runs the multi-specialty Shri Isari Velan Mission Hospital, the Amarar Isari Velan Charitable Trust Fund, an international swimming academy, and several resorts and real estate businesses, among others. He is also one of the trustees of the South Indian Artistes Association and Nadigar Sangam Charitable Trust.
A noted philanthropist, Dr. Ganesh spends millions of rupees on annual scholarships for meritorious students each year.
He organizes free health and blood donation camps on a regular basis, and has, over the years, made hefty contributions to various relief funds. His environmental efforts include installing windmills for securing alternative energy and actively planting trees every year, besides awarding leading environmentalists with honourary doctorates at Vels University. Remarkably, under his tutelage, the Vels institutions have adopted best waste management practices.
A trailblazer in his own right, Dr. Ganesh has been conferred with several awards and honours. These include the South Indian Culinary Association Award (2004), the Dubai Tamil Sangam Award (2011), the Mauritius Tamil Cultural Trust Award (2012), the Pearl Foundation Award for Educational Excellence (2016), the Times Education Achiever Award (2017), the Lifetime Achiever Award from LIC (2018), and the Education Stalwarts of the Year Award (2019), to name a few.
Watch: Life at Vels University, Chennai
Always one to lead by example, Dr. Ganesh is not merely a promoter and patron of learning, but an impassioned seeker of it. After finishing his M.Com from Pachaiyappa’s College in Chennai in 1992, Dr. Ganesh completed his PhD from the University of Madras in 2000, earned a B.L degree from the Madurai Kamaraj University in 2005, did an M.B.A. from the University of Madras in 2010, and is currently pursuing an M.L degree from Dr. Ambedkar Law University.
Institutions under the Vels Group Umbrella
- Vels Vidyashram School
- Vels Higher Secondary School
- Vels Teacher Training Institute Venkateswara Nursing College
- Sri Venkateswara Dental College Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences
- Vels Ravindra Bharathi Global Schools
- Kindle Kids International School Cambridge Tutors College
The Vels Group — Spearheading a Revolution
The Vels University is a part of the larger family of Vels Group of educational institutions that were set up with the motive of providing affordable, quality education. Some of these institutions include the Vels Vidyashram School, Vels Higher Secondary School, Vels International Pre-School – Kindle Kids, Vels Teacher Training Institute, Venkateswara Nursing College, Sri Venkateswara Dental College & Hospital, Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences, and Vels Ravindra Bharathi Global Schools, among others. The Vels Group is also making a mark abroad with the Kindle Kids International School in Singapore and Cambridge Tutors College in London.
Thus, beginning from primary education to higher learning, the Vels Group is steadfastly fulfilling the educational needs of millions of young people across generations and geographical divides, helping them secure a stable future in this age of steep competition.
Dr. Ishari K Ganesh — Awards & Honours
South Indian Culinary Association Award (2004)
Dubai Tamil Sangam Award (2011)
Mauritius Tamil Cultural Trust Award (2012)
Pearl Foundation Award for Educational Excellence (2016)
Times Education Achiever Award (2017)
Lifetime Achiever Award from LIC (2018)
Education Stalwarts of the Year Award (2019)
Fulfilling the Treasured Vision of India’s Favourite President
India is a country in which more than 50 percent of the population is below the age of 25. It is a nation with a median age of just 26.8 years. By providing high-quality, affordable education, the Vels Group is playing a significant role in meeting the massive educational needs of this vast young population. The sheer will and the overarching vision of Dr. Ishari K Ganesh shows up in all its glory in the accolades and achievements of Vels alumni who are making their mark all over the world. Dr. Ganesh’s legacy is made of immense exploits that are incomprehensible for most human beings during one lifetime, making him a worthy name among PWI’s league of extraordinary educators taking India to new horizons of enlightenment.
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the eminent scientist and former President of India, had articulated his noble vision of India becoming a knowledge power. Inspired by this powerful idea, Dr. Ishari K. Ganesh made it the mission of Vels University, as reflected in its motto “Knowledge is Power”.
If India is indeed to become a knowledge power to be reckoned with in the near future, it is people who inspire like Dr. Ishari K Ganesh and prestigious institutions like Vels that will have a considerable part to play in it. Without doubt!