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Stage set for Presidency board

Swapan Chakravorty (left) and Sugata Bose at Presidency University on Thursday. (Sanat Kr. Sinha)

The Presidency University Council held its last meeting on Thursday, paving the way for the formation of the governing board which will function as the lone decision-making body of the institute in keeping with the mentor group’s recommendation.

The status of the 27-member governing board distinguishes Presidency from other state varsities, which has multiple decision-making bodies.

Former Presidency vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Harvard professor Sugata Bose, Nayanjot Lahiri (professor of archaeology at Delhi University) and Rahul Mukherjee (professor of statistics at the IIM Joka) will be part of the board as nominees of the outgoing council.

Bose heads the Presidency mentor group, which has Lahiri and Mukherjee among its members.

The council nominated the four at its last meeting on Thursday.

“At a meeting of the council in January, four names had been proposed as nominees to the board in keeping with the Presidency University Amendment Act (2013). The four were Bose, Lahiri, Mukherjee and physicist Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, who is also a member of the mentor group,” said an official.

“But since Bhattacharya would join Presidency in August as Acharya Jagadis Chandra Bose Distinguished University Professor in Natural Sciences, his name has been replaced with that of Sarkar.”

Bhattacharya, who had in April declined the offer of full-term VC of Presidency, attended the council meeting. So did Bose, the newly-elected Trinamul MP of Jadavpur.

The Harvard historian, who “lost” an informal student referendum on whether he should continue as a member of the council after being fielded by Trinamul in the polls, refused to speak on the proceedings of the meeting.

“The university authorities will brief on the proceedings,” Bose said, before leaving with fellow mentor and council member Swapan Chakravorty.

Sources said Chakravorty, a professor of English at Jadavpur University, had proposed Malabika Sarkar’s name. The council unanimously approved the proposal.

The governing board will have a nominee each of the chancellor, the state government and teachers of the university. There will also be special invitees (including a student representative) and several ex-officio members.

“The university is planning to call the first meeting of the governing board in June. We are waiting for the names of the chancellor’s and the government’s nominees before declaring the Appointed Day, the formal announcement of the constitution of the board. With the available nominated and ex-officio members, the first meeting can be called once the Appointed Day is declared,” said an official.

The Presidency University Act, which came into force when the Left Front was in power in 2010, had stated that the council would be the interim decision-making body, to be replaced by the court and the executive council.

The Mamata Banerjee government got the act amended in 2013, scrapping the provision for the court and the council and making the governing board the lone decision-making body of Presidency.

The move, recommended by the mentor group, was aimed at speeding up decision-making at the university, which chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants to emerge as a centre of excellence.