Mumbai University councils nominate IIT-BHU director for VC search committee

Suhas Pednekar, the current VC of the university, is set to retire before the completion of a five-year term as he will turn 65 years old
Last year, the state cabinet cleared amendments to the Maharashtra Public Universities Act which impacts the process of hiring a new VC. (HT PHOTO)
Last year, the state cabinet cleared amendments to the Maharashtra Public Universities Act which impacts the process of hiring a new VC. (HT PHOTO)
Published on Apr 18, 2022 11:15 PM IST
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Mumbai: A joint meeting of the academic and management councils of the University of Mumbai on Monday met with one agenda—to nominate a name for the search committee that will finalise the names of the next vice chancellor for the varsity. By the end of the meeting, the councils zeroed in on Pramod Kumar Jain, director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-BHU), Varanasi, as the first name for the said committee.

“The joint meeting was scheduled for this purpose and majority members agreed with the nomination,” said a member of the academic council.

Suhas Pednekar, the current VC of the university, is set to retire before the completion of a five-year term as he will turn 65 years old. Pednekar was appointed as the VC in April 2018 and thus his term was supposed to end in April 2023.

As per Maharashtra Public Universities Act 2016, a search committee to appoint a new vice-chancellor for a university consists of three members. It will be headed by a member nominated by the chancellor, a second nomination comes from the principal secretary of the higher and technical education department or any officer not below the rank of principal secretary to the government and the third nominee is usually the director or head of an institute or organisation of national repute nominated by the university management and academic councils.

After its selection, the committee would invite applications, shortlist candidates, interview them and suggest five names to the Chancellor, who then will select one for the post of VC.

However, an amendment approved by the state government in December 2021 to the existing rule has suggested minimising the role of the chancellor in the selection of a VC for state universities.

Last year, the state cabinet cleared amendments to the Maharashtra Public Universities Act which impacts the process of hiring a new VC. Altering the selection method, the state is now supposed to receive the names of five nominees shortlisted by the search committee, choose two from the list and send the same to the governor of the state (and chancellor of all state universities) to finally declare a candidate.

While this amendment was approved by the state government, it has been pending final approval from the governor since December 2021.

Bypassing this amendment, governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari went ahead and notified the academic and management councils of MU to hold a joint meeting and nominate a member for the search committee

“Since the amendments have not been approved by the governor as yet, we are assuming that the old rule will be applicable and we are working accordingly. The next two nominations should be released soon and work on finding the next VC will start at the earliest,” said a member of the management council, MU.

Officials from the state higher and technical education department said the process will have to be completed until the fresh amendments are approved.

“The process for appointing a vice chancellor has to be started by the chancellor i.e. the Governor. Currently, the law as it was stands until the amendments made in the law were approved by the Governor. Thus the process will have to be completed as per the existing provisions. If the Governor approves the fresh amendments only then the new law will come into force,” said a senior official wishing not to be named.

(With inputs from Faisal Malik)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

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