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Presi VC search panel set up

The state government has set up a search committee that will draw up a list of names for the first full-term vice-chancellor of Presidency University.

The committee comprises UGC chairman Ved Prakash, Nayanjot Lahiri, who teaches archaeology at the department of history in Delhi University, and Sugata Bose, the Gardiner professor of history at Harvard University.

Prakash has been nominated by governor M.K. Narayanan, also chancellor of the university, Lahiri (a member of the Presidency mentor group) by the university and Bose (chairman of the mentor group) by the state government. Prakash will lead the committee, says a notification issued by higher education department secretary Vivek Kumar.

“The search committee is expected to recommend a panel of names — preferably three — to the chancellor before the term of interim VC Malabika Sarkar ends on February 15,” said an education department official.

When contacted, mentor group chairman Bose said: “We are yet to receive the order. The committee will proceed as directed in the notification.”

He refused to comment when asked whether the committee would be able to come up with the list in such a short period. Sources in the higher education department said the panel would have to meet at least thrice before drawing up the list.

“First, the university registrar, on behalf of the committee, has to give an advertisement seeking applications from interested academicians. After getting all applications, the search committee will have to meet at least thrice to prepare a shortlist. I don’t know how the committee will send a panel of names in such a short period,” said a Presidency teacher.

Monday’s notification announcing the setting up of the search panel was expected to coincide with the one on the formation of the governing board, which will take over the reins of the fledgling university from the Presidency council.

“The notification on the governing board could not be issued today because some legal formalities are yet to be over,” said an official in the higher education department.

Sources said the department was awaiting vetting of the university statute by the law department before issuing the order related to the formation of the governing board.

The 27-member board will be the lone decision-making body of Presidency, an arrangement that sets the College Street campus apart from other state universities which have at least two such panels comprising a large number of members.

The Presidency University Act 2010 had provisions for two decision-making bodies — the court and the executive committee — that would have replaced the Presidency council.

The Mamata Banerjee government got the act amended last year and replaced the court and the executive committee by the governing board. The rationale behind the change was that one body instead of two would speed up decision-making at the university.

Of the 27 members of the governing body, 10 will be ex-officio. The rest will nominated members and special invitees.

The council at its meeting on December 23 had nominated four members to the board. All are mentors — Sugata Bose, Nayanjot Lahiri, Rahul Mukherjee and Himadri Pakrashi.