Professor Emeritus C.M. Madduma Bandara, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya was conferred with the Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) honorary degree at the 83rd Annual General Convocation – 2022 of the University of Peradeniya, which was held on the 30and 31 August at the University.
Prof. Madduma Bandara is truly worthy of such honour and a prestigious award, for his contribution to the country and society as a whole is immense. His illustrious career filled high-ranking positions and his brilliant research has greatly contributed to the country’s research and development sector.
Prof. Madduma Bandara completed his school education at the Central College Anuradhapura (1950-1959), and later he was selected to the University of Peradeniya (1960-1964) where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1964.
In 1967 he was selected to the prestigious University of Cambridge in England for his doctoral degree. In the year 1971, he completed his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.
He began his academic career at the Colombo Campus of the University of Ceylon in 1964. At Cambridge, he specialised in Land-Water Interactions (Fluvial Geomorphology) and obtained his Doctoral Degree in 1971.
After completing his studies in Cambridge, he returned to his home university of Peradeniya where he served for well over 40 years. He rose to the position of the Head of the Department of Geography and rose to the rank of Professor on Merit.
From 1994 to 1997, he served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya for three consecutive years. On his retirement, he was conferred the status of ‘Emeritus Professor’ by the University Senate.
Prof. Madduma Bandara had the experience of working at several universities overseas, including the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (1977 – 79), University of Cambridge (1987), University of Tsukuba (1997), Tokyo University (2000), United Nations University (1999), and at Kyoto University, Japan (2007/2008) as a Guest Professor in the Graduate School of Agriculture.
During his long academic career, Prof. Madduma Bandara also had the experience of working with several reputed research scholars from, England, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Nigeria, and India, in addition to those from his home country.
He also had the experience of working for brief spells at several international organisations such as the World Bank, USAID, NORAD (Norwegian), GTZ (German), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Prof. Madduma Bandara played a prominent policy advisory role for the Government of Sri Lanka in the capacities of Chairman of the Presidential Land Commission (1985 – 1989), Chairman of the Interim National Water Resources Authority (2004), Chairman of the Academic Board of the National Institute of Education, and the Chairman of the National Environmental Council. In 2021 and 2022, he served as the Cabinet Appointed Expert Committee’s Chairman for developing an integrated national water policy for Sri Lanka.
Research studies of Prof. Madduma Bandara spread over a broad spectrum of academic disciplines but were mostly focused on issues pertaining to the environment, land policy, and water resources. Some of the professor’s key contributions were in watershed management, coastal zone planning, agro-well development, and the culture-environment interface dealing with traditional knowledge systems.
Prof. Madduma Bandara had been primarily responsible for the development of the ‘Concept of Village Tank Cascade Systems’ (1985) (that was subsequently recognised as a Global Agricultural Heritage System by the Food and Agriculture Orgnisation), promotion of Agro-wells in the 1970s that had significant agricultural productivity impacts, and the formulation of the first National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP).
He is well–known for his proposal for the re-demarcation of the Provinces of Sri Lanka based on river basin boundaries. He has over 100 research papers and publications in reputed national and international academic journals to his credit. He won an Award of Merit from Lankajalani (The national counterpart of the Global Water Partnership), for his contributions to the water sector. The Sabaragamuwa University conferred a Hon. D Sc. (2010) for his contributions to research and higher education. He is a Fellow and Council Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
We take this opportunity to congratulate him and wish that he many serve the nation further.
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy