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3-month extension of Presi VC term

The governor has extended Presidency vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar’s tenure by three months against eight sought by the government, which is being seen as an indication that he wants the university’s first full-term head to be appointed at the earliest.

The higher education department issued a notification on its website on Wednesday announcing that interim VC Sarkar’s term has been extended by three months or till a full-term VC is appointed, whichever is earlier.

“The governor has consented to extend Sarkar’s tenure by three months for the time being,” higher education minister Bratya Basu said.

The government had on February 3 appealed to governor M.K. Narayanan, also chancellor of the university, to extend Sarkar’s term till October 6 or the appointment of her successor, whichever is earlier.

Sarkar’s tenure was to end on February 15.

Sources said that by granting a three-month extension, the governor has made it clear that he wants Presidency to have its first full-term VC by May 15.

The government, however, seemed to have been confident that the governor would grant an eight-month extension to Sarkar.

Immediately after sending the appeal to the governor on February 3, Basu had announced that Sarkar’s tenure would be extended till October 6. The minister had also said a notification announcing the extension would soon be issued.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, too, said at a recent programme that Sarkar would continue to be Presidency’s VC till October 6.

“The government should have waited for the governor’s decision before announcing that the interim VC’s term would be extended till October,” said a source.

An official of the higher education department said the government should have followed the protocol and consulted the chancellor before announcing that it had appealed for an extension of Sarkar’s term till October 6 or the appointment of the first full-term VC, whichever is earlier.

The government had said it wanted Sarkar to continue in the post till October because a “proper search” for the first full-term VC of the institution, which the chief minister wants to be developed as a centre of excellence, could take time.

“By granting a three-month extension, the chancellor has sent across the message that the process of search and appointment could be wrapped up by May 15,” said the official in the higher education department.

The government had on January 20 announced that a search committee had been formed to draw up a list of probables for the post.

The committee has to start the search process by approving a draft for an advertisement seeking applications from academicians.

The three members of the panel — Ved Prakash (chairman), Sugata Bose and Nayanjot Lahiri — must meet before the registrar issues the advertisement on behalf of the committee. The meeting is likely to be held on March 17 or 18.

After the advertisement is issued, the panel will have to wait for 21 days for applications. After that, it will meet at least thrice to draw up a shortlist of three names for the governor to make the final choice.

“If the advertisement is published in mid-March there is no reason why the whole process of appointment can’t be completed by May 15,” the official said.

The academician selected for the post may need some time to be released from the institution he/she is serving. “In that case the government can seek a further extension of Sarkar’s term by one or two months,” the official said.