BATTING PARTNERS: Presidency vice-chancellor Amita Chatterjee leaves the office of principal Amitava Chatterjee (left) on Tuesday evening. Picture by Amit Datta
Presidency University’s “opening bat” turned up unannounced for a pitch inspection on Tuesday, three weeks after a daylong vigil by students and staff eager to give her a grand reception had ended in a no-show.
Amita Chatterjee, appointed Presidency’s first vice-chancellor earlier this month, had called principal Amitava Chatterjee around 2pm to inform him that she would like to drop by if he was in office. “It took me and everyone else by surprise. Till that call, we had no idea she would be coming,” the principal told Metro.
The Presidency office reopened on Monday, but classes will resume only in the second week of November.
Around 2.55pm, a Bakers Chocolate Maruti Ritz rolled past the gates of the College Street campus and vice-chancellor Chatterjee, dressed in a white-and-red sari, got off near the portico. She then walked up the stairs unescorted to reach the principal’s first-floor office.
To caretaker Narayan Ghosh, standing outside the room, Chatterjee’s face “looked familiar” but he couldn’t recall who she was. And then he remembered.
“I had preserved a copy of Metro (October 7) in which my name was mentioned in the report about the reception we had organised for the vice-chancellor. My mind went back to the picture on that page even as I welcomed the lady with folded hands. She smiled at me,” said Ghosh.
Vice-chancellor Chatterjee was closeted with the principal till around 4.20pm. “She enquired about the strength of the teaching and non-teaching staff along with the number of vacancies in each department,” said the principal.
Meeting and introductions with the staff over, vice-chancellor Chatterjee went to the alumni association office in the same building to meet Dilip Roy, a retired non-teaching employee who had worked at Presidency from 1960 to 1992. By the time Chatterjee stepped out of the building after meeting a couple of other old-timers who were visiting the association office, it was 5.50pm. The principal had left around 20 minutes earlier.
So was Tuesday’s visit more about reconnecting with her alma mater than about doing a recce of her new workplace? “I was invited to attend a function nearby and I thought it would be nice to pay a visit,” vice-chancellor Chatterjee told Metro. “The feeling of a campus was missing as classes are closed,” smiled the former Jadavpur University professor.
The last time she had visited Presidency was in 2006, when a team from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council visiting the institution wanted to meet members of the alumni association.