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Sarkar’s ‘she’ hint on Presi VC

Presidency University vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar said on Friday she would leave office on May 13 and suggested that another lady would succeed her.

“My term as VC ends in the middle of May. But I have chosen to leave on the 13th of May because 13 is my lucky number,” Sarkar told the inaugural session of a seminar organised by the state council of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

“After me Presidency will have another VC. I have every conviction that she will turn out to be a great VC and the Ficci will invite her to address similar conferences,” Sarkar added.

Anuradha Lohia, a professor of bio-chemistry at Bose Institute, is the front runner for the job.

The 58-year-old’s was the second of the three names suggested by a search committee to governor M.K. Narayanan for appointment to the post of first full-term VC of Presidency.

The search committee’s first choice was physicist Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a “distinguished professor” at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and third choice, Sumantra Chattarji, the director of the Centre for Brain Development and Repair in Bangalore.

Bhattacharya, whose name the government had announced on April 10 as the first full-term VC of Presidency, has declined the offer on the grounds that the search committee did not take his consent before including his name in the shortlist.

Neuro-biologist Chattarji, who came to know about being shortlisted for the post from news reports, has expressed his inability to accept the job even if offered as he can’t quit the Bangalore centre within a month of taking over its reins.

Higher education department secretary Vivek Kumar, who was one of the speakers at the Ficci seminar on “Higher Education — Emerging Trends and Opportunities”, refused to comment on the possibility of Lohia being appointed as Presidency VC.

But a source in the higher education department said preparations for appointing Lohia were being made and the appointment letter would be issued once the governor, also chancellor of the university, returns to the city from Darjeeling.

Sarkar’s extended term as interim VC ends on May 15. She told Metro after the seminar that she would leave office on May 13, even if the first full-term VC does not join that day. If a new VC does not take over on May 13, Sarkar will hand over the charge to the senior-most dean of the university.

It is not clear whether Lohia, if appointed, would be able to join the post on or before May 15 because she will leave for the UK on academic assignments on May 6 and is likely to return on May 26.

The university has not yet received any confirmation about the appointment of the full-term VC.

But a source on the campus said even if a full-term VC does not join on May 13, Shanta Dutta, a senior teacher and senior-most dean of Presidency, will officiate as VC after Sarkar leaves office.

Addressing the seminar, Sarkar explained the key objective of higher education. “The key objective of higher education is to create an intellectual pool of highest standards to provide leadership in research and development and produce ground-breaking discoveries.”

Gaurav Swarup, the chairman of Ficci’s West Bengal state council, Bibek Banerjee, the director of the Institute of Management Technology, Gaziabad, Rajendra C.M., the managing director of Talisma Corporation, and Manish Chopra, the senior vice-president (financial services analytics) of GENPACT also addressed the inaugural session.