|The Presidency University logo unveiled on Sunday. Picture by Amit Datta
Presidency University has launched a drive to raise money after having realised that it was beyond the cash-strapped government to hand out hefty funds needed to realise the chief minister’s dream to transform the institute into a world-class centre.
The university, which has raised Rs 70 lakh over the past few months, has set up a number of funds where well-wishers can donate money.
The Presidency mentor group had sought Rs 250 crore from the state government — Rs 200 crore last year and Rs 50 crore this year. But the university has only got Rs 6 crore, with the government promising another Rs 7 crore in the 2013-14 fiscal.
“What we have got from the government is a pittance, leaving us with no option but to raise funds through private channels,” a university official said after a meeting of the Presidency University Council on Sunday.
Among those who have contributed to the university are scientist Ashok Sen, a member of the Presidency mentor group and an alumnus of the erstwhile Presidency College, and Mukul Kanti Majumdar, a teacher of economics at Cornell University.
Money can be donated to the Presidency University Vice-Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence, or any of the several other funds if the donor wants his/her contribution to be spent for a specific purpose. Among the other funds are the Baker Building Centenary Fund and Presidency University Bicentenary Fund.
“We are also open to seeking endowments for the five posts of distinguished professor and to support research fellows,” said an official. “All contributions will enjoy 100 per cent tax exemption.”
A brochure detailing the procedure for making donations will be posted on the university website for the benefit of prospective contributors abroad, vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar said. “Contributors can remain anonymous.”
When asked whether lack of government support has forced Presidency to scout for private funds, Sarkar said: “The government has the intent but given its fiscal position, it is not in a position to offer funds on the desired scale. The Presidency University Act has provisions to raise funds from alternative sources.”
Soon after coming to power the Trinamul dispensation started promising huge funds for Presidency’s upgrade, prompting several outstanding scholars to quit lucrative assignments abroad to teach on the College Street campus.
“We have ambitious plans to set up state-of-the-art laboratories. The teachers were assured that funds would not be a constraint. But now that the government seems reluctant to part with huge funds, we are fearing a flight of faculty back to where they came from. That has prompted us to try and raise funds on our own,” said a university official.
The mentor group in its third report, filed last year, had expressed dismay over the government’s failure to allot funds to the institute on a scale it had recommended.
On Sunday, mentor group chairman Sugata Bose said: “We want clarity from the government on how much they can contribute. Based on that, we can determine how much we would have to raise.”