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University Grants Commission - Sri Lanka

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Senior Prof. Sampath Amaratunge

Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunge

Sr. Professor Sampath Amaratunge, the visionary and builder of organizations, astute university administrator, academic par-excellence, renowned business consultant and humanist has been appointed as the Chairman of the University Grants Commission by His Excellency the President, of Sri Lanka, with effect from 03rd January 2020.

Professor Amaratunge, BA (Hons.) in Economics from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, MA in Economics from the University of Colombo, MSc. in Economics of Rural Development from Saga National University and PhD from Kagoshima National University in Japan, counts nearly 30 years’ service in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. An authority in Rural Economic Development, Professor Amaratunge has won several awards including the prestigious Research Excellence Award (2002) of the Kyushu Society of Rural Economics, Japan. He has over 75 refereed publications to his credit, both locally and internationally.

In the year 2021, Sr. Prof. Sampath Amaratunge was conferred “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. The Order of the Rising Sun is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji which is an award conferred to foreign nationals who make distinguished contributions to enhance friendly relations with Japan.

As the twice appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Professor Amaratunge has contributed greatly to uplift the standards of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He was responsible for establishing three new Faculties: Faculty of Technology, Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences. He also was instrumental in laying the foundation stone to create the Faculty of Urban and Aquatic Bio-resources.

He considered research to be the driving force of the Nation. Thereby he took measures to upgrade the Research Committee to a Research Council which grew to accommodate 25 research centres. Professor Amaratunge’s first term of office is also significant owing to the path-breaking research initiatives that were introduced. The research efforts initiated through the newly formed research council with a fund base of over Rs.400 Million were directed at nationally and internationally relevant projects. The period also witnessed large strides of development in the spheres of quality enhancement, the introduction of new technology and strategic relations.

Furthermore, having identified the gap between University education and the Industry, Sr. Prof. Amaratunge founded the Invention Innovation and Venture creation Council at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. This initiative encouraged students and staff to engage in innovations and ventures. At present, the University has nearly 50 registered companies operating under the council. Furthermore, the council takes initiatives in the patenting process and has over 15 patents. In the year 2019, he initiated the Innovate Sri Lanka Exhibition at the BMICH in honour of the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the University. The exhibition showcased the talents, innovations and ventures to the public and bridged the gaps between the industry, the public and the students. The exhibition is now a major part of the calendar of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

During his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Directors for the year 2019. He was also elected as a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, United Kingdom as a representative of the countries under the Constituency II

As Vice-Chancellor, Professor Amaratunge takes a unique and inimitable student-centered approach in dealing with students. His humane approach to men and matters has made him dear to the academic and non-academic community alike. He is much respected in the university community and is a mentor and role model for many.

Prior to his appointment as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, he served the University as Dean, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, University of Sri Jayewardenepura (2008-2014)

His contribution and achievements have been recognized both locally and internationally. He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from the Dharma Buddhist University of Malaysia in 2017. He also became the only Vice-Chancellor in Sri Lanka to be awarded the ‘Vidyodaya Dharmashasthra Vibushan’ a Honorary award in 2018 for his services to the nation and Buddhism. In recognition of his Visionary leadership, Commitment and Dedication to University Education, Administration and as former Dean of Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura he was awarded the CPM Management Leadership award in September 2018.

Professor Amaratunge is a pragmatic intellectual of many parts. He served with distinction as Chairman, Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) of Sri Lanka (2009 - 2012), a period studded with noteworthy achievements such as establishing sister unions; a research grant scheme for academics and a facility scheme for entry at grade one for their children. Professor Amaratunge had the honour of being the youngest appointed member of the University Grants Commission (2010) and held key positions in several state commissions of importance. In addition, not confining his services to academia, he sits on Boards of Management of several prominent corporates as an independent director.

Having been a keen sportsman from the days of his alma mater, Ananda College, Colombo, he blossomed into be the best player (cricket) and colours-man during his undergraduate days, and later functioned as President, Sri Lanka University Sports Association (2009-2010). Professor Amaratunge has demonstrated fair play, equality and brotherhood, attributes associated with sportsmanship, in no small measure in his professional life. It is a pleasant coincidence that during his tenure as Vice-Chancellor, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura become champions of the Inter-University Games for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2017.

Professor Amaratunge has invested in many ambitious projects during his first term in office as Vice-Chancellor, and has also been fortunate enough to reap the benefits of these. During the current term in office as the Chairman, University Grants Commission, he wishes to extend his efforts towards the development of the entirety of the Higher Education System in Sri Lanka.


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