Chennai: M K Surappa’s appointment kicks up row in academics

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | A RAGU RAMAN
Published Apr 7, 2018, 2:32 am IST
Updated Apr 7, 2018, 2:32 am IST
‘New Vice-Chancellor may find it difficult to handle such big University’.
Anna University
 Anna University

CHENNAI: Even as Anna University is preparing to welcome its new vice-chancellor M.K. Surappa, a raging debate is on outside the campus about whether a person from outside the state could be appointed to the top position of the state university.

Governor Banwarilal Purohit appointed M.K. Surappa, former director of IIT Ropar and honorary professor at IISc, Bangalore, as VC on Thursday.  Surappa, is a renowned scholar in materials engineering. He is hailing from Karnataka and spent 24 years teaching at IISc Bangalore.

 

While several politicians have criticised the appointment citing that he is from outside of the state, senior faculty members of the university said they are not worried about his state of origin instead they expressed concern whether he can handle such a big university.

“We are interested in knowing the person’s academic background and his administrative capabilities. Among the shortlisted candidates, he has got good credentials,” they noted.

Another professor said, “the university has got nearly 600 affiliated colleges. It presents a different challenge. A person coming from outside our university system will find it difficult to cope with the routine affairs of the university”. Some professors who have browsed his credentials said that he has got higher qualifications and his h-index is very good. The h-index is an author-level metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scholar. 

Anna University former Vice-Chancellor and IIT Kanpur former chairman M. Anandakrishnan said somewhere there is a mistake in the appointment of new vice-chancellor of Anna University. “Generally, in all the states, a person from outside the state is not been appointed to the state universities. There is a reason for it. The vice-chancellor have to intimately interact with society. There are allegations of administrative incompetence against him when he served at IIT Ropar as director,” he pointed out.

He further said, “I think the Governor probably would have thought if a person is outside the system, the politicians would not interfere with him. It may be one of his good intentions. Because he wanted to protect university from political interferences. At the same time, a person cannot survive without political support. I think it’s going to be a very difficult situation.” 

Anna University former Vice-Chancellor E. Balagurusamy said, “there is no room for political interference in the appointment of vice-chancellors. In my opinion, political leaders have no business to interfere in the appointment of vice-chancellors. It is an academic appointment made after following the due procedures as per the statutes and acts.”

“We should not follow any religion, language and region in the appointment of vice-chancellors. Anna University is famous university at national level and we should be free to appoint anyone who is eligible and suitable for the job,” he said.

He further said, “there is no reason why the political leaders comment on it. Anna University can have anyone as the vice-chancellor. Many scholars from Tamil Nadu are occupying top academic positions in all over the world. There are many examples of state universities which had vice-chancellors from other states.” “It is always good to have an outsider as a vice-chancellor. Because local persons could be influenced by political parities besides biases like caste and religion. In the last 10 years, it is the first time a vice-chancellor is appointed without any interference of the government or a political party. I think we all should welcome this appointment,”  he added.

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