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Physics prof new Presi VC

- Topper back at the top

Presidency University has found its first full-term vice-chancellor in Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a “distinguished professor” at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research who had 44 years ago topped the undergraduate physics class at the then Presidency College.

The state government announced the name after governor M.K. Narayanan picked Bhattacharya from a shortlist of three presented by the search panel last month.

“Consequent to the search committee’s recommendations, Prof. Sabayasachi Bhattacharya, distinguished professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, has been selected as the vice-chancellor of Presidency University,” education minister Bratya Basu said in a text message to Metro on Thursday.

Bhattacharya is one of the nine mentors of the university and was appointed its chair professor for natural sciences in February.

Although interim vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar’s tenure has been extended till May 15, Bhattacharya can join any day before that, an official of the education department clarified. “It is up to him to decide when he would like to join,” the official said.

The order announcing the 62-year-old Bhattacharya as the full-time vice-chancellor states that he has been appointed for four years or until 65 years of age or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Since its inception in July 2010, Presidency University has been helmed by two interim heads who have been referred to as the “first vice-chancellor”.

Besides being women, both are from the humanities. Amita Chatterjee studied and taught philosophy. Sarkar’s subject is English literature.

Sources said chief head-hunter Ved Prakash wanted someone from the sciences to be the university’s first full-term vice-chancellor.

“This is the best thing to have happened. Over the last two-and-a-half years that he (Bhattacharya) has been associated with Presidency, he has advised us on the science curriculum and we have incorporated his suggestions. He is the best person to guide Presidency,” Sarkar said when Metro sought her comment on the appointment.

Harvard professor Sugata Bose, who had inducted Bhattacharya into the mentor group in July 2011, too called him “the best man” to lead the College Street institution. “We had sent the names of three eminent academicians to the chancellor. I am delighted that the chancellor has selected Bhattacharya. An academician of outstanding calibre, Bhattacharrya is the best man to shape Presidency as a centre of excellence,” Bose said.

Fellow mentor Swapan Chakravorty said Bhattacharya’s administrative experience would come in handy. “He is an internationally acclaimed scientist and attached with institutions globally recognised. His appointment would help in spreading goodwill about Presidency abroad.

Somak Raychaudhury, dean of science and head of the physics department, described Bhattacharya as a special academician.

“His research is widely recognised in the industry and he has seven US patents under his belt. He brings research to the industry and gets the industry to fund the research. We all know how crucial it is for a fledgling university like us to forge industry-institute partnership,” Raychaudhury said.