Sir Vithaldas Thackersey
The year 1896 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of women’s education in India when Bharatratna Dhondo Keshav Karve established an ashram for widows and helpless women at Hingne near Pune. He realized that to make these women self-sufficient, -reliant and -confident, schooling was essential at the ashram. Karve launched a programme of schooling there, which latter became a regular school for girls and women. In a society governed by age-old customs and conservative attitudes towards women, an institution of this type was bound to face social and economic difficulties. He had a dream of establishing a women’s university. His friends sent him a booklet on the Japan Women's University in Tokyo. In December 1915 Karve, in his presidential address to the National Social Reform Congress in Bombay, announced his decision to shape his dream into reality. On 2 July 1916 the first college started with the enrollment of five students; it gradually took shape as a women’s university. Karve did not wait for the government permission for funds.
The vision of Maharashi Karve and the foresight of Sir Vithaldas Thackersey led to the establishment of the first women’s university in India. Recognizing the pioneering work of Karve, Thackersey made a generous contribution of Rs. 15 lakh to commemorate the memory of his mother, Nathibai. In 1920 the university was named Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University.