KOZHIKODE: Can a person nominated to the search committee to select a new Vice Chancellor be impartial if the frontrunner to the top post happens to be one among those who handpicked him? This seems to be a question vexing academic circles as the process to select the new Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University is currently underway.
The three-member search committee to select the Vice Chancellor comprises a nominee of the Chancellor (Governor), a nominee from the UGC and one from the university concerned. J Prabhash, the university nominee to the selection panel was chosen by the MG varsity senate comprising the then Pro Vice Chancellor and now Vice Chancellor Sabu Thomas. Interestingly, Thomas is among the shortlisted candidates to the Vice Chancellor post in the current selection process.
It needs to be remembered that a similar scenario arose during the constitution of the search committee to select a new Vice Chancellor in Kerala Technological University (KTU). The Chancellor had to cancel the search committee owing to the involvement of the potential shortlisted Vice Chancellor candidates in choosing the university nominee.
It is reliably learnt that the search committee to select the new Vice Chancellor for MG University has sought the opinion of the Chancellor on whether the panel could go ahead with its task, given the precedent. Meanwhile, Higher Education Protection Council convener R S Sasikumar has written to the Governor highlighting the anomaly in the selection process.
Both Sabu Thomas and Prabhash could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Incidentally, a similar scenario exists in Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) also. Cusat Syndicate members, who nominated the varsity nominee to the search panel, are also applicants to the Vice Chancellor’s post. Sensing trouble, the Cusat Syndicate has already written to the Governor apprising him of the matter in a bid to avoid a repeat of the KTU situation.