General Sir John Kothalawela Defence University (KDU), originally established as the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy (KDA) through Parliamentary Act 68 of 1981 with an intention to produce graduate Officers for Tri-Services. This esteemed institution later gained university status via Amendment Act 27 of 1999 and the academy was renamed as the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in 2007. The university underwent major reforms since its inception as a university under the versatile and visionary leadership of Major General Milinda Peiris as the Vice Chancellor, and within a decade of time effort, the university has been able to mark its name as one of South Asia’s foremost Defence Universities which is a prominent fixture within Sri Lanka’s tertiary education sector.
Major General Milinda Peiris, the legendary personality who dreamt this university as of today, Joined the Sri Lanka army on 28th 1980 and later emerged as a key figure in the war front in concluding the 30-year-long battle against terrorism of the country. In 2008, he assumed the role of Vice Chancellor at the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, where his relentless dedication fueled the rapid transformation of KDU during two impactful tenures. Notably, he initiated the admission of day scholars (Civil students) in 2012 and simultaneously projected the requirement of establishing of the Medical Faculty of KDU as a need to the country along with a fully-fledged University Hospital (UHKDU) located in Werahera. Following his initial term, culminating in 2007, he ascended to the position of Chief of Staff of the Army before his retirement from active duty in 2016.
Recognizing his exceptional capabilities and unwavering commitment to KDU’s advancement, Major General Milinda Peiris was recalled to active service in 2019, reclaiming the role of Vice Chancellor. During his second term, he propelled the university forward with a visionary perspective, steering it toward achieving a remarkable 4th place among the world’s top 10 prestigious military academies.
Furthermore, KDU achieved significant recognition by securing a prominent position in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking as Sri Lanka’s 1st-ranked university for its commitment to quality education, reduction of inequalities, and promotion of gender parity. Celebrating the university’s rapid progress and its contributions to both the tertiary education sector and the nation at large, the institution was bestowed with the President’s Colours and University Colours, a rare honour of the highest degree.
After finishing an 11-year tenure at KDU Major General Milinda Peiris marked his retirement yesterday with approximately a four decade of active military service in the military history leaving a legacy that he transformed the university into a premier South Asian university with state-of-the-art facilities on campuses like Rathmalana, Southern Campus in Sooriyaweva, the prestigious University Hospital, the Metropolitan Campus in Colombo, and a future campus expansion in Kurunegala. The university now accommodates 11 academic faculties that provide more than 50 internationally recognized degree programmes. With all said and done, KDU stands tall as a testament to his transformation of this institution.
The tieless commitment rendered to the university by Major General Milinda Peiris was honoured by KDU as it said goodbye to this trailblazing leader and agent of change. This historic event was marked with a ceremonial parade with university colours and military honours, which was followed by a dinner uniting all Military and Academic staff in his honour.