Dr Hebri Subhaskrishna Ballal’s association with Manipal goes way back to 1953, when he was a grade 7 student at the Christian High School in Udupi. Dr TMA Pai was setting up the Kasturba Medical College building in Manipal then, and he would frequently visit high schools in the region to share his dream of a medical college for the local children.
The school children traveled to Manipal for ‘shram-daan’, or to ‘contribute one’s labour’, and more often than not, Dr Pai would be found working side by side with enthusiastic students like the young Hebri Ballal.
It is probably what inspired him through his life journey. Dr Ballal is a nominee of the President of India in the Court of Assam University, Silchar and a life member of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Indian Medical Association, Mangalore. He has also served as Chairman, Higher Education Committee of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and is a Director on the boards of many companies that make up the Bangalore-based Manipal Education and Medical Group.
He has been awarded the ‘IBM Inspiring Vice Chancellor of the Year’ award, and the ‘Education Personality of the Year' award. The ‘Vocational Excellence Award’ instituted by the Rotary Club of Mangalore was awarded to him in recognition of his achievements in the field of medical education and healthcare in 2009. In 2010, he was conferred the Aryabhata International Award in recognition of his contribution to the field of medical education. He also received the ‘New Year Award 2008’, by the Academy of General Education, Syndicate Bank and the Rotary Club of Udupi, Manipal. The Bangalore Medical College Alumni Association honoured him for being one of the best teachers in the medical fraternity.
Before he became a much-decorated and universally-respected teacher, Dr Ballal was a student who, after completing his pre-university course from Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, joined the newly-opened KMC Mangalore as a lecturer in radiology. Here he was involved in teaching, and shaping the future of bright-eyed students. In 2001, he was appointed Dean of the institution.
Through it all Dr HS Ballal remains a teacher at heart. In 2008, he co-authored a handbook for radiology students: Peeping inside the Human Body.
Dr Ballal believes that present-day students pose fresh challenges that need to be managed innovatively. He believes the Manipal Centre for Professional & Personal Development is the perfect vehicle for this, as it aims to empower and educate the academic faculty, students and non-academic faculty of all Manipal University institutions by promoting global trends and new teaching methodologies.
Dr Ballal believes that teaching is as much about creation of new knowledge as it is about imparting existing knowledge in text books. He proudly points out that Manipal University is ranked 100 among the BRICS university rankings, the first private university to find a place in this elite list.
A keen sportsman, Dr Ballal represented Mysore University in tennis through his college days, and can be found each morning on the courts even today, aggressively scoring against opponents half his age. He also plays cricket regularly.
At seventy plus, Dr Ballal plans to continue working, teaching, learning, and playing tennis for many more years – at Manipal, naturally.