Malabika Sarkar Presidency VC
Presidency will be governed by a lone and lean council with almost half the strength of similar bodies in other state universities, according to a bill proposing amendments to the Presidency University Act.
The bill is likely to tabled in the Assembly on Thursday.
The act, framed by the erstwhile Left Front government, states that the university will be governed by two bodies — council and court.
The act, however, is yet to come into force and as an interim measure, the university is run by a council set up in 2011. The proposed amendment states that there will be only one such panel, to be called the governing body.
The 27-member governing body will have three government representatives — the higher education secretary, finance secretary and the chairman of the West Bengal Higher Education Council.
Among the other members will be the chancellor, a UGC nominee, representatives of the teachers and various departments, a few nominated members, two alumni and a “special invitee” who can also be an ex-student of the erstwhile Presidency College.
The outgoing council will nominate two distinguished alumni to the governing body.
A streamlined decision-making process that seeks the help of “distinguished alumni” was the brainchild of the mentor group, set up to steer Presidency’s transformation into a world-class institution.
“The alumni in the governing body will bring in expertise from diverse fields,” said Harvard professor Sugata Bose, the chairman of the mentor group. “The idea is to ensure that individual talent finds a proper place in the governance structure. In leading institutes like Harvard and Princeton this model is followed.”
Vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar, herself a former student of the College Street institution, said alumni in the governing body will bring fresh ideas in the running of the institution.
“A distinguished former student contributes to his or her alma mater out of passion and devotes his or her entire attention to its welfare. The institute immensely benefits from this bonding,” said Sarkar.
In no other universities, since the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Act 2011 came into force, are the alumni represented in the highest decision-making bodies. Earlier, the Left Front government would involve alumni in such forums in the garb of “Registered Graduates” to remote control decisions.
The bill, however, does not specify what would be the parameters for selecting the “distinguished alumni”.
The bill also allows a student representative to join the governing body, another point of contrast with other state universities where the 2011 act prevents student participation in the highest decision-making bodies.
A leaner governing body stands in contrast to the structure of the decision-making bodies at Calcutta and Jadavpur universites.
CU is governed by the senate and syndicate, comprising 110 and 34 members respectively. At JU, the twin bodies are the court and the executive council, with 80 and 30 members respectively.
At CU and JU, decisions taken by the syndicate or the executive council have to be endorsed by the senate or the court. “This results in an inordinate delay in decision-making, a situation Presidency can avert because of its lone governing body,” said a higher education department official.
“The mentor group wanted to make a clean break from the two-tier administrative system instituted by the erstwhile Left Front regime in state universities to remote control policy decisions,” said the official.
A senior CU official welcomed the decision to restrict the number of government representatives in the governing body to three. “The CU senate has six government nominees. Most of them are too busy and hardly attend the meetings. The Presidency model should be replicated elsewhere.”