In 1882 Surendranath Banerjea, eminent scholar, orator and statesman and one of the pioneers of India’s struggle for self-government and freedom, took over the charge of Presidency School. In January 1884, it was renamed Presidency
Institution and became affiliated to the Intermediate Standard of the University of Calcutta. Later in the same year, with permission from Lord Ripon, it was renamed as Ripon College and became a full-fledged degree College under the University of Calcutta.
Surendranath Banerjea himself taught in the College for many years with rare distinction. Under his inspiring guidance a generation of students grew up with sacrifice and idealism as their guiding principles. Round him gathered some of the most distinguished scholars and intellectuals of the time and Ripon College soon came to be counted among the reputed seats of learning in the country. In 1885 the Department of Law was started. It was converted into a separate College in 1911 and it was named as Ripon Law College. The Department of Commerce was established in 1940. A branch of this College was opened in Dinajpur (now a separate College in Bangladesh) in 1942. The trustees in order to keep pace with the changing needs of the time, opened an evening Science section in 1947 and a women’s section in 1948 as well. The former is now a part of Surendranath Evening College and the latter became an independent Degree College in 1960. In 1948-49 the Trustees renamed the College as Surendranath College as a mark of respect to the founder of the institutions and author of “A Nation in Making”.
The College was recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1972. Standing amidst the din and bustle of one of the busiest thoroughfares of Calcutta, the College has been a witness at close quarters to various ups and downs in the social and political history. In its career of more than a hundred years it has had to pass through both fair and foul, sunshine and rough weather. Its students welcomed Swami Vivekananda along with others with spectacular enthusiasm on his historic arrival at Calcutta in 1897 after his great success and triumph in the West. On reaching the city Swamiji was accorded reception worthy of a king at Ripon College. It was at Ripon College that Gandhiji put up in the company of others when he came to the plenary session of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta in 1901. This was his first experience of attending such an important gathering in India.