Thampu chosen Stephen's principal
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- Published 12.09.08
New Delhi, Sept. 12: St. Stephen’s College today selected Reverend Valson Thampu as its new principal, six months after he quit as administrative head amid a cloud of controversy.
Thampu was chosen from 12 potential candidates late this evening, ending nearly 20 months of uncertainty when the college had no principal and was functioning under different administrative heads.
Thampu is the 12th principal of the college, now in its 127th year.
The Reverend’s tenure as the administrative head was marked by fissures within the faculty that spilt out into the open when he served notices on two teachers accusing them of influencing students against him.
Anil Wilson, the previous principal, quit after 16 years in charge in January 2007 after he was appointed the vice-chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University.
Wilson’s deputy Jacob Cherian was asked to head the college by the institution’s supreme council, the highest decision-making body at St. Stephen’s. But later in 2007, Cherian was asked to vacate the chair of administrative head.
Thampu, who formerly taught English at the college, was asked to take his place as an officer on special duty till a principal was appointed.
He introduced reservations for Dalit Christians in the 2007-08 academic year, a decision that was met with opposition from many members of the faculty and the alumni.
His critics said the college constitution mentioned no post of an officer on special duty and challenged his appointment.
University Grants Commission (UGC) rules require college principals to be PhDs. But Thampu held no PhD at the time of appointment.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions held Thampu’s appointment illegal and asked him to explain. The Reverend obtained a PhD in theology from Allahabad Agricultural Institute barely days before he was to give his explanation.
Then the UGC said a principal must hold a PhD in a subject taught at the college — theology is not taught at St. Stephen’s.
In March this year, he resigned.
The supreme council asked M.S. Frank, who Thampu had appointed his deputy, to take over, as a “pro-tem administrator”. Frank was one of the candidates interviewed today.