Kuriakose Elias College is named after Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the Heavenly Patron of this institution and the founding father of the Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), the first indigenous Catholic Religious Congregation in India. The CMI Congregation is a religious and charitable order of the catholic religious minority community, coming under the purview of the Constitution of India. This congregation is the embodiment of the dream and vision of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara whose eminence as an educational and social reformer was duly recognized and honoured by the Government of India by the release in 1986 of a postal stamp with his image. The CMI Congregation with more than 2000 members renders service to the community in diverse areas like education, health care, social and cultural activities, charitable service etc. K.E College is one of the more than five hundred educational institutions run by the CMI Congregation in various parts of India.
Kuriakose Elias Chavara though he hailed from an upper caste Syrian Christian family, he played a major role in educating the people of the lower ranks of society. In 1846, Kuriakose Elias established St. Joseph's Press at Mannanam- a remote hamlet near the town of Kottayam in Central Kerala. This was the third printing press in Kerala and the first press founded by a Keralite without the help of foreigners. From this printing press came the first Malayalam newspaper Nasrani Deepika which later became a daily in 1887 and is circulated even today as Deepika. He also started a school at Mannanam in 1846. He was responsible for introducing noon day meals in schools, a practice later adopted by the rulers of Travancore and then by the Indian government. In 1864, while he was serving as the Vicar General of Syrian Catholics, he ordered to start a school along with every church which was successful in making free education available for everyone. Thus schools in Kerala came to be known as 'pallikudam'.
In co-operation with Palackal Thoma Malpan and Thoma Porukara, Kuriakose Elias founded an Indian religious congregation for men, now known as the 'Carmelites of Mary Immaculate' (CMI). He believed that intellectual development and the education of women was the first step towards overall social welfare. Towards this end he founded, the 'Congregation of the Mother of Carmel' (CMC), the first religious congregation for women.
Kuriakose Elias attained eternal peace on 3 January 1871, aged 66, at Koonammavu- a northern suburb of Cochin City. Kuriakose Elias was beatified at Kottayam on 8 February 1986, and later on November 23, 2014 he was canonized at St. Peter's Square by Pope Francis.
The service of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara has been acknowledged and lauded with gratitude by the Government of India and to honour him, the Government released a postal stamp with his portrait in 1986. The CMI congregation with a membership of 2300, serves humanity in educational, social, healthcare and other activities, aiming the prosperity and well-being of the society. Though Kuriakose Elias College is a minority institution, it strives to impart quality education without distinction of religion, caste or creed.