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Stage set for Presi VC search

Presidency University

The state government has started the process of appointing the first full-term vice-chancellor of Presidency University, education minister Bratya Basu said on Thursday.

Interim vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar’s term, extended by six months by the chancellor in July, will end on February 15.

“A search panel will soon be formed to draw up a shortlist for the post of Presidency VC,” Basu said on the sidelines of a programme organised by the British Council at Roopkala Kendro on Thursday. “The decision to appoint the panel has been taken in consultation with the chancellor,” the minister said.

The Presidency University Act says the search committee would comprise a representative each of the chancellor, state government and the Presidency University governing board.

The government has already approached governor M.K. Narayanan, who is the chancellor of all state universities, to send the name of his nominee.

Harvard professor Sugata Bose, the chairman of the Presidency mentor group, has been requested to send the name of the representative of the university’s governing board.

The Presidency governing board is yet to be set up but a source in the government said the university has informed the education department that preparations were on for the setting up of the panel.

Presidency can have a full-term (four years) vice-chancellor only after its statutes are drawn up and a governing board is formed. Till then, any appointment will be an interim one.

The source said the statutes are ready and the university is likely to place them before the government within a week.

According to the Presidency University Act, the hunt for a full-term VC through a search committee would begin after the governing board is constituted.

Sarkar, who taught at Jadavpur University, was appointed interim VC for a year with effect from October 18, 2011, and then given a year’s extension. The first interim VC, appointed in 2010, was Amita Chatterjee, Sarkar’s colleague at JU.

Before Sarkar’s second term came to an end, a controversy broke out following an announcement by the government that she could not continue beyond August 14 as she would turn 65 the next day. The retirement age of a VC in a state university is 65.

The government also set up a search panel — comprising three academicians known to be close to Trinamul — to find Sarkar’s replacement. The three were former head of the state higher education council, Sugata Marjit, ISI professor Avirup Sarkar and Calcutta University VC Suranjan Das.

Sarkar’s term, however, was later extended by six months.

The mentor group in its fifth report had recommended that Sarkar’s tenure be extended till July 2015. The logic behind the recommendation is that an “extensive worldwide search” for a full-term VC and a smooth transition of power would take two years.