PATNA President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed Sunaina Singh as the new vice chancellor of Nalanda University (NU). She is expected to take up the new assignment soon.
The President, who is also the visitor of NU, signed the letter appointing Singh, at present vice chancellor of the English and Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad, on Tuesday. Her name figured in the panel of three names submitted to the President. The panel was formed after shortlisting 133 applicants, six of whom were earlier called for interview. They included former pro-VC of Patna University, Ranjit Verma.
The appointment was announced late on Wednesday night after interim NU vice chancellor Pankaj Mohan, who was in the media line of fire for allegedly trying to protect a student accused in a sexual harassment case, tendered his resignation and posted an open letter to students on the Facebook. But before that, Mohan rusticated the accused, who was earlier suspended on Wednesday.
In his Facebook post, an upset Mohan wrote: “I express my sincere apology to the members of NU community for my inability to uphold their trust. I take moral responsibility for the problems in NU in the last three days. I have relinquished all administrative positions and also urged the chancellor to institute an inquiry into the period of my term as interim VC. If I am found guilty of any wilful error, I will quit the university.”
Singh, who hails from Rajasthan, is a professor of English and has held many key administrative positions, including chairperson of the department of English, Osmania University, and president of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a binational research organisation, from 2009 to 2011.
She is a member of the council of vice chancellors of central universities, the national apex committee of the National Mission on Education, standing committee on women’s studies set up by the Union ministry of HRD and appeals committee of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
A nominee of the visitor (President) in the executive council of many central universities, she is a recipient of many awards, including Commonwealth academic staff scholarship award and post-doctoral faculty award from the Canadian foreign affairs ministry.
She joins at a time when NU is in turmoil for the first time since its inception. The alleged sexual harassment incident has done enough damage to the reputation of the university, set up in 2014 to recreate the glory of ancient seat of learning in Nalanda, which functioned from 413 AD to 1193 AD.
Singh is not alien to such situations, having faced turmoil in EFLU over a Dalit student’s suicide in 2013 and adverse CAG report in 2014.
On January 27, the visitor had appointed Vijay Bhatkar, best known as the architect of India’s first supercomputer, as the chancellor of NU. The post had remained vacant following the resignation of his predecessor, former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo, on November 25. Yeo was upset with the way the governing board was constituted with all new faces and treated it as an affront on university’s autonomy, a concern shared by founding NU chancellor Amartya Sen also.
Nalanda univ turmoil
The appointment was announced after interim VC Pankaj Mohan, allegedly trying to protect a student accused in sexual harassment case, resigned and posted open letter to students on Facebook