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JU gets new VC, only for six months

Besu professor Abhijit Chakraborty has been appointed interim vice-chancellor (VC) of Jadavpur University to allow the search panel time to find a suitable candidate for the post.

Chakraborty will remain in the post for six months or till a permanent VC is selected, whichever is earlier. Present VC Pradip Narayan Ghosh’s term ends on April 14.

A state government order issued by the joint secretary of higher education, Manab Chakrabarty, announcing the appointment, explained that it wouldn’t be possible for the search committee to suggest names within a “short period”.

The search panel comprising Goverdhan Mehta, a former director of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Srikumar Banerjee, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and M. Anandakrishnan, the chairman of IIT Kanpur, has been assigned the task of finding a suitable successor to Ghosh.

The decision to appoint an interim vice-chancellor has invited criticism from within the university. “A temporary vice-chancellor from some other university would take time to understand the establishment and by then it would be time for him to leave,” a JU official said.

Chakrabarty, however, is ready for the challenge. “I believe the department has appointed me taking into account all factors. Besides, the department has assured me full co-operation in running the varsity in a proper way,” he told Metro.

The going may not be easy though. The next six months are crucial for JU with several initiatives such as drawing up regulations for admission to engineering, science and arts departments both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and appointment of teachers in keeping with the new standards set by the executive council lined up.

The council recently decided that the varsity would consider research credentials of candidates applying for teachers’ posts besides essential qualifications.

“To oversee such procedures, the varsity should have a permanent vice-chancellor instead of a stopgap one whose aim would be to somehow complete the tenure,” said the member.

A member of the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association alleged that the ad hoc appointment exposed lack of planning of the higher education department.

“Everyone was aware when Ghosh’s tenure would end. Then why didn’t the authorities plan to replace him with a candidate selected by the search committee?” he said.

An official of the higher education department argued that given the time constraint, there was no choice but to settle for a temporary arrangement. “A search committee of such high calibre needs time to shortlist persons of highest credentials for the post of vice- chancellor. The department can’t force the members to take a hasty decision because the post would fall vacant,” said the official.

The department has also appointed Samir Das, a professor of political science at Calcutta University, as interim vice-chancellor of North Bengal University. Outgoing vice-chancellor Arunava Basu Majumder’s tenure ends on March 31.

Poll result: The Democratic Students’ Forum has retained control of Jadavpur University’s engineering faculty for a record 35th time. The results of Friday’s polls were declared on Monday.