Saturday, January 30, 2016

Search Starts for Next Nalanda Vice-Chancellor !!

The next governing board (GB) meeting of Nalanda University, scheduled to be held on January 29-30, will be a key one with the government keen on beginning its search for a new vice-chancellor, who will succeed Gopa Sabharwal.

The GB, which was earlier called the Nalanda Mentors Group, will meet in Rajgir, Bihar, where it will also decide on the composition of the next GB.

Gopa Sabharwal
When contacted by The Sunday Standard, a Nalanda University spokesperson denied that the issue of selecting the next vice-chancellor was on the agenda of the governing board. However, sources have clearly indicated that while the vice-chancellor will propose the agenda, efforts will be made to ensure that the selection process begins at the meeting.

In October, the GB had given an extension to Sabharwal ahead of the expiration of her term in November. Sabharwal got an extension up to one year or till the appointment of the next vice-chancellor, as per the Nalanda University Act 2010.

Sources said that the GB will be asked to set up a search committee, which will propose three names for consideration to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Visitor to the University. This process should not take more than three months.

Sabharwal, who has supporters in the GB, could be named as one of the three candidates, but the final decision will be taken by the President. Another important item on the agenda will be for members to decide the composition of future GBs of the university. “There will be some tweaking, but it will not be a major deviation. This will be incorporated in the Amendment Bill, which the government may be finally introduced in the next session,” said an official.

As per the university spokesperson, the “agenda (of the GB) includes discussion on all provisions of the Amendment Bill”.

The UPA government had tabled the Nalanda University Amendment Bill in September 2013, but it was then referred to the Standing Committee. The Bill covers all aspects to operate the university from its special privileges to the recruitment of officials to sources of financial resources. The report of the standing committee was released in December 2013.

When the NDA government came to power, the Amendment Bill remained in the deep freezer, with the ministry mulling its status. Last year, there was a change in helm at the top with former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo taking over from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen as chancellor of the university. “Naturally, we wanted to consult with the chancellor about his views on the Amendment Bill,” said the official.
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Nalanda work to start in March 2016 - Governing Board Clears new Buddhist Studies school !!

The construction of the Nalanda University building will start in a couple of months - a decade after then President APJ Abdul Kalam conceptualised it.

The announcement, made by chancellor George Yeo, came after the 13th meeting of the governing board, signifying the delays and difficulties the much-touted university has gone through.

The university administration would complete the tender allotment process for the upcoming building by February-end after which the construction work will start by the end of March.

The varsity is, at present, functioning from its makeshift campus on the premises of a healthcare and research unit near the Rajgir bus stand.

Yeo, a former foreign minister of Singapore, replaced Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as chancellor last year. Sen continues to be associated with the university as a member of the governing body. He attended the meeting today held at the Rajgir International Convention Centre.

The governing board also decided to launch its fourth school - on linguistics and literature - in the 2017-18 academic session.

The university has already announced it would start its School of Buddhist Studies, Comparative Religion and Philosophy from the academic session 2016-17. At present, the university is running the School of Historical Studies and School of Ecological and Environment Studies. The School of Public Health is expected to come up in the 2018-19 academic session.

Yeo said the building construction work is likely to start from March-end. "With the construction work commencing, the university will go into expansion mode by increasing student intake."

At present, the student strength is 63. This year, the university's target is to increase the strength to 300.

Sources said the first phase of construction would include the academic block, administrative blocks, residential quarters for faculty and other staff members, hostels for students and roads for reaching to various blocks. The first phase of construction work will be completed within 42 months at an estimated cost of Rs 700 crore.

Yeo denied there has been any delay in the construction. "There is no delay in construction. It takes time, as the university has to follow several procedural steps such as selecting the design architecture, erecting boundary wall and other formalities," he said.

The new Nalanda University campus is coming up over 454 acres at a site around 15km away from the ruins of the famed ancient seat of learning.

The planned School of Linguistics and Literature will complement the present School of Historical Studies and the upcoming School of Buddhist Studies, Comparative Religion and Philosophy. While catering to the present needs of the neighbourhood in which the university is located, the School of Public Health will greatly benefit the region.

Yesterday, an exhibition was held to showcase the design of the master plan and library plan of the university. Ahmedabad-based Vastu Shilpa Consultants, whose principal architect is B.V. Doshi, is the master planner of the university. RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers of Singapore is the library designer.
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