Friday, September 16, 2011

Professor S Sivasegaram's eMail and our reply

Professor S Sivasegaram has sent us the following eMail.

Dear Editor
I think that some of the recent articles are in bad taste.
There is a tendency to settle old scores with people.
Several of the personal comments are inaccurate and suggest dubious motives.

Some lecturers were not very popular, but they cared for students in far far better ways than ones who sought popularity at the expense of standards.

Light hearted remarks are all right but harsh judgments are quite another matter.
What do some of the writers seek to achieve with their attacks on former teachers and colleagues?

The Internet in some ways is a curse, I fear.


This was our reply.

Dear Professor Sivasegaram,

If you said bad English - then perhaps I can agree because we can perhaps agree on a point of reference.

But bad taste is all relative. Not all taste buds are made equal. Some like beer, some like Arrack but some like neither of them.

These people who have written about their experience during their student days at Peradeniya are all products of the faculty. They are just documenting certain incidents they experienced and offering their opinion. If alternative opinion or points of view is available, I am quite happy to publish it here.

During my time at Peradeniya, I dont think there were any lecturers seeking popularity. If they were, they badly failed because we did not notice any such signs. You were considered as a good lecturer and a good person, that is because we compared you to CLVJ.

I am sure you agree that you too displayed your bad tempter at least once (AFAIK) and some of us were afraid of you as well.

Since graduating from Pera, I have studied at four universities in three countries and have worked in six universities in two countries. I have not come across a place similar to Pera e-fac during our days in any of these places where the majority of the students were living in constant fear about lecturers.

Internet is a good medium at least as far as these issued are concerned. Those people who dispute what is written can always enter their comments with what they think is correct.

While there are names mentioned and claims made, I doubt if there is any ill will or hatred.

-Moderator, eFacMemories


  1. This is not a comment relevant to the discussion above. Just misusing the forum to extend my heart felt gratitude to one of the best teachers I had at Pera eFac, Prof. Sivasegaram or Siva as he was popularly known.

    Comparison with CLVJ would have made him shine brighter but even on absolute terms he was such a friendly man from whom I could ask some clarification even on a corridor without any fear. He would tuck his brief case between his legs and start explaining writing on the back of a file or whatever piece of paper available. He made the feared Thermo lab a pleasant place to go to and the dreaded Intas just deflated dummy giants.

    Best was the turn around he made at the First Year drawing class. We could ask any question at any time and he was at hand till the end of the session to readily answer them. The almighty instructors who used to ignore and ridicule us so far had a big problem now as Prof Sivasegaram asked our questions from them first and they were often found wanting. Pretty soon they became very friendly with us and some of them even addressed us 'Machan'. The 'Incompletes' and marks in the order of 2,3,4 which was the norm in the first two terms became 7,8 and even 9 & 9 1/2.

    If we had a few more good teachers like Siva and Mr. Saman (Abeysekara ?) who taught us electronics in the third year (for only one term, unfortunately) I would have learnt much more at the university. This doesn't mean all others were bad. I liked the teaching of Prof. Jayatilake specially his problem solving approach - starting from the final answer and working backwards and even Prof Gunawardena in patches (how good it could have been if he chose to go with the average rather than the elite few). Prof Jayasekara for me was a traditional teacher who did not make his exam paper 'for champions only'.

    May be I should have written a separate blog. But that may not have materialized if I kept it for later. May this be a tribute to the great man Prof. Sivasegaram. Thank you Sir!

    Ananda Piyatilake (81 batch)

  2. Siva ruined thermodynamics for me. Plus he wanted us to be afraid of him.

    1. Never be put off by any one however difficult the tutor is, if you really are passionate about a subject.

    2. Prof Siva stood like a pillar of the mech dept while many around him deserted to greener pastures. To use the words of Thurair to me in dec.1975 that it was easy for him to get a research post abroad but he could not let the faculty down.

      Prof. Siva announced our degree results and I could not believe what he was saying and asked him again to confirm.

      I was disappointed and resolved to leave my mark in the short period I was there as an instructor.
      The next day I was taking the tutorial class to a batch of students a dozen of them I identified as capable of getting first class from the tutorials and course work ,when I saw two of them in the class I told them what they should and should not do to get a first class.

      Few weeks later I went home and my relative was telling me that he wanted his 12 year old son to do medicine. I told him that his son was not going to medicine but engineering in front of his son .

      I am proud to say that 12 year boy a decade later topped the engineering at Peradeniya and won the E O E Prize for best performance.
      Prof Thurair was at the agricultural faculty and
      saw a cousin of mine there looking like my nephew and asked him if he was related to the boy who topped the engineering. Not surprisingly this very query was enough for this agricultural undergraduate to do PhD in his field.

      Two of those who listened to my advice as an instructor in the class got their PhD and I think a dozen of the class I identified also go their doctorates
      Not many lecturers can claim that they have inspired their students like me at the E fac?

    3. If you put the blame on the teacher for simple laws of thermodynamics, how are you going to understand Black hole entropy, quantum entanglement and quantum computation?

  3. In my time (1978-82) at the Faculty of Engineering Peradeniya we had very noble and respectable Professors Like Thurairaja, Milton Amarathunga, Mr.Shanmuganayagam Dr. Ranaweera ect. They showed behaviour of high class, quality and were kind to students. I give my at most respect to them all time. In contrast we were discomforted by bunch of guys at senior staff levels who were looking students to show cruelty and deprive their good grades in exams hence derived pleasure from.
    Indeed Dr. Sivasegaram did care students far far better ways..!!!
    I would say Dr. Sivasegaram was the “Friday” of CLVJ. Both were remarkably cruel to students. Sivasegaram never accepts his own short comings and weakness. He is a crap malefactor. Students high failure rate were always remarkable and visible in both Siva’s and CLVJ’s subjects Drawing and Thermo.
    Siva always stops students and starts talking and insists his view on to the. But at the faculty there were some noble professors never engaging themselves with students and do such useless talking in the corridor but students love them forever.
    Dr. Sivasegaram is a backward thinking person. In the 1980 when the faculty decided to introduce electronic calculator for calculations Siva upped his arm, vigorously opposed such move. He insisted to use slide rule for coursework calculations, five figure Log Table for steam table calculation and eleven figure Log Table for surveying calculations. He kept out dated steam engine in Thermo lab for his own taste and wasted more of the students time which is valuable than his whole life worth.
    In my time those who caught up for Siva’s and CLVJ’s avenge and deliberation had to suffer and go on re-sitting Mechanical Drawing exam for more than 10 times. If it had happened in the UK these two guys would have been prosecuted and driven away from the scene.

    1. My school principal taught us a wisdom that a brilliant engineer but a flop in married life..

    2. //Dr. Sivasegaram is a backward thinking person// That is true. He opposed to introduce CAD software to do drawing exercise .

  4. Internet is a blessing for us today and it gives us opportunity to curse Dr.Sivasegeram and Prof Jayathilake without end. I welcome more people to join in this task. They deserve to to have more as they were mercy less guys and unfortunate bad examples. We can't forget Prof Gunda (Gunawardane). He also as bad as those previous two and some students see him worse than..

    Many thanks once again for INTERNET and and the inverter.

    1. Civil engineering dept was full of civilised people ,it does not apply to mech and electric it appears as they have to deal with messy oil and wires day after day reflected in attitude of some to students ? Food for thought.

  5. More than 3 decades ago I came to the conclusion that the reputation of lecturers are not based on what they teach but from opinions passed down via word of mouth from seniors to the juniors and it is not easy to erase from their memory.

    1. I Disagree with above opinion person'c conclusion. We directly experienced the quality of teaching and kindness of many distinguished people like Profs. Amarathunga, Ranaweera, Thurairajah, Shanmuganayagam and there were no departure from opinions expressed by vast majority of my seniors in 1978-82 period. I can provide list of students who lost their degrees and future due to direct reason of Prof Jayathilake, Sivasegeram and Gunawardene. Please have a humility for god sake and accept that these three are Front line Evils of the faculty punishing prolific stunts coming year after year.

  6. Both Prof.Siva and Prof. Gunda don't deserve to be teachers. They don't simply know how to teach. They could survive as there was no evaluations of teacher's performances at my time.

    I love all my teachers except two professors stated above.


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