Xavier's goes far & wide to realise dream

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  • Published 12.10.14

The fifth edition of Beyond Boundaries, the annual international meet of the St. Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association, got off to an eclectic start in Melbourne on Saturday morning. A prayer service, a musical performance, elocution, a presentation of the college’s Vision 2020 and a cricket talk show were all part of the first day of the convention.

“This is an opportunity to revive the Xaverian spirit of Nihil Ultra that flows from the Ignatius vision of magis (more or better in Latin). It is a happy moment for all of us to be together as a Xaverian family far away in Melbourne and to revive the spirit we had while we were in St. Xavier’s and which we have carried for all these years to various parts of the world,” said Felix Raj, the principal of the college and the president of the alumni association.

Around 200 Xaverians from India and different parts of Australia and New Zealand are part of Beyond Boundaries V organised by the Australia and New Zealand chapters of the alumni association.

Felix Raj shared experiences from previous international chapter meetings, especially Beyond Boundaries IV in London that saw Xaverian L.N. Mittal pledge Rs 30 crore towards the academic building coming up on the institute’s Rajarhat campus, of which he has already handed over Rs 21crore.

He also shared Vision 2020, the college’s blueprint for development in the next six years. “At present we have 8,000 students but we want to expand to include 16,000 students by 2020, not as part of St. Xavier’s College, autonomous, but as St. Xavier’s university,” Felix Raj said.

Of the many projects that are part of the Vision 2020 plan, the twin hostels — one for boys and one for girls — on AJC Bose Road, the EM Bypass Educational Multimedia Research Centre campus and the St. Xavier’s College rural campus at Raghapur, which has started with three courses and 126 students, are already reality.

Work on the Rajarhat campus has begun with the Jesuit residence building and the academic building. “In the first phase we will complete four floors of the 12-storey academic building with 72 rooms and the Jesuit residence complex. We should be able to start with the first batch of MBA students on the Rajarhat campus by July 2017,” the principal said.

Speaking about the university status of the institute, Felix Raj said the dream was likely to become reality in the next few months or the next year, depending on the progress of negotiations with both the central and the state governments on the criteria that the college is looking at, including government aid, minority status and full control of the administration by Jesuit fathers.

“The state government has accepted it in principle and asked us to prepare the bill, which is ready. While we were negotiating with the state government, the central government invited St. Xavier’s College for upgrade by the human resource development ministry and now talks are on with the central government,” Felix Raj said. The state government’s project has been put on hold on the advice of Xaverians in the ministry as the Centre is keen to upgrade St. Xavier’s to a university, for which the initial seed money will be Rs 55 crore.

Felix Raj thanked the alumni association and the alumni for their support and generosity in making Vision 2020 a reality, and being an example to associations and institutes all over the world how constructive the alumni can be for their alma mater.

Paintings by 12 artists were put up for auction. The money raised from the auction will be given to the college for its Vision 2020 plan.

The day’s official session ended with a panel discussion that saw Xaverians settled in Australia talk about government emphasis on health and safety, punctuality, innovation and do-it-yourself attitude, that India can learn from Australia.