Presi mentor to 'address' seat stutter

Sugata Bose

Calcutta: Presidency University's mentor group will be meeting in December to address "concerns" about the institution failing to fill its classrooms despite lifting itself from "three decades of decline", chairman and Harvard professor Sugata Bose said on Tuesday.

"Let me put it this way. It is a matter of concern and we will address the situation. We have decided (to do so)," Bose, also a Lok Sabha member, told Metro.

The mentor group intends to make its recommendations to chief minister Mamata Banerjee based on a "careful study of the state of affairs" at Presidency. "I have contacted all my colleagues in the Presidency mentor group.... We will be prepared to hear from faculty, student and alumni about their concerns. But we will take our time. We are following what is going on," Bose said.

The chief minister had constituted the mentor group in June 2011 and given Bose the responsibility of transforming Presidency into a "world-class" institution by 2017, its bicentennial year.

Bose, the Gardiner professor of oceanic history and affairs at Harvard, said it was not as if Presidency had suddenly gone into free fall.

"I want to be very clear that Presidency really went into decline over three decades from 1977 onwards and hit rock bottom in 2011, when the mentor group was founded. And I think we were certainly able to arrest the decline and make some significant improvements in 2011. But there may well be problems at the present moment which need to be addressed."

Bose had headed the search committee that included Anuradha Lohia in the short list of candidates for the post of full-term vice-chancellor in 2014. The chancellor chose her after the other two contenders declined the post.

Three years later, Presidency has struggled to fill undergraduate seats even in courses that used to be the bedrock of its reputation.

Bose said he had sought a report from vice-chancellor Lohia after reports surfaced about Presidency not finding deserving students even for highly-rated courses such as physics, economics and chemistry. She replied that most of the vacant seats were those reserved for underprivileged students.

Bose said vacancies in reserved categories meant that Presidency had failed to reach out to the "disadvantaged groups", a dream envisioned in the first report of the mentor group that was submitted to Mamata in August 2011.


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