The first batch to receive degrees from Presidency University celebrates after the convocation on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
Chief guest Sam Pitroda told the convocation “with a great deal of concern” that “the quality of education in India is pretty bad” except in the “top 5 per cent”
of the institutes. During his talk to the students and a walk around the campus later, the adviser to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations suggested some of the measures to make the grade.
• Presidency should strive to become a tech-enabled campus and make use of the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
• A Presidency University student should
be able to listen to a lecture delivered
by a professor at IIT or MIT using the
• Students should have access to all
• Presidency must implement the concept of e-classroom.
• There should be synergy between teaching and research. Teachers need to play the role of true mentors.
• Not just good students, Presidency should try to produce entrepreneurs.
• It needs to adopt new, innovative models of teaching and not take pride in old models. Any old model is about to die. Learn to take risks and focus on an innovative curriculum.
• Be responsible towards those less privileged.
Malabika Sarkar will remain vice-chancellor of Presidency University till February, governor and chancellor M.K. Narayanan confirmed on Thursday even as education minister Bratya Basu iterated that the government hadn’t even “given a thought” to finding her successor.
“I have given Sarkar six months’ extension and she will stay till February,” Narayanan said on the sidelines of Presidency University’s first convocation.
On whether Sarkar would complete her extended tenure, the governor said: “Yes.”
Minister Basu, guest of honour at the convocation, added to it by saying the hunt for a new vice-chancellor hadn’t been planned, let alone launched.
“As of now, we have not given a thought to finding a successor to Sarkar. She will continue to be the vice-chancellor of Presidency University till February,” he said.
The twin statements by the governor and the education minister about Sarkar remaining vice-chancellor came a day after the chairman of the higher education council, Sugata Marjit, triggered speculation about whether she would be able to complete her extended six-month tenure.
Marjit had said that the panel set up to choose Presidency’s next vice-chancellor would resume work after September 20, only to be snubbed by the education minister hours later.
Basu said that the government, “not the council”, would decide the appointment of the next vice-chancellor of Presidency University.
Besides Marjit, the panel comprises ISI professor Avirup Sarkar and CU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das. All three had studied at the erstwhile Presidency College and were invitees to the convocation, but didn’t turn up.
In his speech at the event, governor Narayanan said it was an honour for him to be present at Presidency University’s first convocation. “This is an occasion that will never return,” he told the gathering.
Narayanan set the bar high for the institution, saying that “the country expects Presidency University to be the best and that expectation must be fulfilled”.
“There is great deal of expectation about Presidency’s future and given the new thrust of direction to its functioning, our hopes and ambition is (that) it would become a centre of excellence and a centre of national eminence.”
He told the students: “You are the best and you are the standard bearers of the new India.”
Minister Basu lauded Presidency’s efforts to transform itself since making the transition from a college to a university. “Presidency has rapidly grown since the transformation from a college to a unitary university…. In 2012, the chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) set up the Presidency University mentor group on the lines of Nalanda University with Harvard professor Sugata Bose as the chairman to enable the university to become a centre of excellence in respect of teaching and research,” he recounted.
“The state government under the guidance of the chief minister has amended the principal act of Presidency University… replacing the court with a board of governors, including the mentors in the board as permanent members, creating chair professors and a corpus fund,” Basu added.
In his address, governor Narayanan had suggested that “corrective measures” be taken to ensure there was less reliance on the models followed by western universities.
“Many venerable practices of the past are given the go-by and also there is too much reliance on western universities. This is inevitable and it may be possible that some corrective measures would be required,” he said.
The governor pointed out that “unparalleled opportunities” had become available to institutions such as Presidency and the challenge lay in “seizing these opportunities and shaping them in the direction that all well wishers of Presidency, including the state and the country, expect it to proceed in”.
Vice-chancellor Sarkar said she looked forward to Narayanan and Basu’s guidance. “We are very happy that the chancellor and the minister have endorsed our efforts.”
Degrees were conferred on 340 students in graduation robes. The batch celebrated the landmark with blue balloons.
A delegation of students later met minister Basu in the vice-chancellor’s room to say that those who had vandalised their campus in April must be brought to book. They also demanded that the cases filed against two students of the university be withdrawn.
nSam Pitroda’s walkthrough and Ranajit Guha’s message: Page 19