The long cherished dream of the people of Western Odisha came true, and the indefatigable efforts of the academicians, intellectuals and political leaders of the region bore fruit when Sambalpur University Act was passed on 10 December, 1966. Sambalpur University came into being and became functional from 1 January, 1967, with Dr Parsuram Mishra as the Vice Chancellor. Dr Zakir Hussain, the then President of India, laid the foundation stone of the present campus on 5 January, 1968, at Jyoti Vihar, Burla, at a distance of 15 kms from Sambalpur city and 7 kms from the famous Hirakud Dam. Since 1973 the administrative, academic and residential buildings of the University have been located at the Jyoti Vihar campus sprawling over 630 acres of land amidst sylvan surroundings.
Sambalpur University has 204 colleges affiliated to it. These are spread over 10 districts of Odisha, namely Sambalpur, Sudargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Bargarh, Bolangir, Subarnapur, Nawapara, Kalahandi, Boudh and Athmalik subdivision of Angul, which constitute about one third of area of the state. The University has been trying to ensure high academic standards in these colleges and fulfil the academic aspirations of thousands of students, many of whom belong to economically backward and underprivileged sections of the society.
The University has twenty-two Postgraduate Departments offering courses in thirty-four subjects for M.A., M.Phil and PhD programmes. Within interdisciplinary framework the departments have formed seven schools in the fields such as Languages and Literatures, Social Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Bio Sciences, Bio-Social Studies, Physical Sciences & Nuclear Physics and Chemical Sciences & Applied Chemistry. Many self-finance courses in Master of Finance and Control, Master of Social Work, M.Tech. in Environmental Science and Engineering, M.Sc. in Applied Chemistry, M.Tech. in Food and Science Technology, M.Sc. in Food Sciences and Nutrition, and Postgraduate Diploma in Translation Studies, M.A. in Performing Arts are special features of the postgraduate teaching programmes of Sambalpur University. The central library of the University, named after reputed academician Prof Bhubaneswar Behera, caters to the needs of the academic community with its of stock of nearly 1 lakh 29 thousand books and 29 thousand back volumes. In addition, the teaching departments have their respective seminar libraries.
The University has an up-coming institute SUIIT (Sambalpur University Institute of Information Technology), as a constituent and autonomous institute on the line of IIITs, on the campus with its buildings. It offers B.Tech., M.Tech. and M.Sc programmes in Computer Sciences, Electronics and Telecommunication, Bioinformatics and allied subjects.
Lauded nationally as well as internationally, Sambalpur University has many of its teaching departments being funded by UGC-SAP under DRS scheme, ICSSIR, DST, ICMR, WODC etc. Running research projects, signing and executing MOUs with foreign universities, conducting scholar-exchange programmes, publishing in prestigious national/international journals, organizing/attending national/international seminars and conferences, providing consultancy and extension services have been part of the academic profile of the faculties in addition to quality teaching. Timely conduct of examinations and publication of results, students’ discipline, academic and administrative audit are also some of the admirable features of the healthy academic culture of the University. E-governance and INFLIBNET- aided access to quality e-journals and books enjoyed by the faculties, researchers and students are signs of a vibrant, efficient and productive administrative as well as academic system for which Sambalpur University has made a name for itself.
Sambalpur University has to traverse a long way by way of expanding as well as consolidating academic programmes, which it will, maintaining the rich tradition and cultural heritage of the region as well as fulfilling its social mission of creating quality human resources in order to serve the nation with dedication.