Published: 21st September 2023
TN govt' notifies Madras University VC search panel; excludes UGC nominee
The previous vice-chancellor of Madras University, S Gowri, had completed his tenure on August 20
In continuing discord between the Tamil Nadu government and Governor RN Ravi over the appointment of vice-chancellors for universities, the state on Wednesday, September 20, issued a gazette notification for the formation of a search committee for selecting the vice-chancellor of Madras University with three members, excluding the University Grants Committee (UGC) representative. The governor had on September 6 issued a press notification constituting search panels for three universities — Madras University, Bharathiar University, and Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University — by including UGC representatives on the committees.
According to the new gazette notification, a search committee has been formed to recommend a panel of three names to the chancellor (Governor) for selecting a VC for Madras University under The Madras University Act of 1923. While VC of Central University of Karnataka, Battu Satyanarayana, will be the chancellor’s nominee, retired IAS officer and State Planning Commission member K Deenabandu will be the syndicate nominee, and Dr P Jagadessan, former VC of Bharathidasan University, will be the senate nominee in the panel.
Battu Satyanarayana will be the convenor of the committee. The governor’s notification had included HCS Rathore, a former VC of the Central University of South Bihar, as the UGC representative.
In October, the government had released a notification forming a search panel for selecting the VC of Bharathiyar University with retired IAS office PWC Davidar as the government nominee/convenor, former VC of Madras University P Duraisamy as the syndicate nominee, and former VC of Bharathiar University G Thiruvasagam as the senate nominee. The governor’s notification, which bypassed the convention, had former Bangalore University VC B Thimmegowda as the UGC chairman’s nominee.
Previous VC of Madras University
The previous vice-chancellor of Madras University, S Gowri, had completed his tenure on August 20 and a four-member committee under Higher Education Secretary, A Karthik, has been administering the university since then. According to the Madras University Act, the VC search committee should have three persons nominated by the senate, the syndicate, and the governor-chancellor.
Meanwhile, academicians said that even as the UGC resolution mandates the inclusion of its nominee in the search committees formed to select VCs in all universities, only the state government has the power to notify them and it can’t be done by the governor.
"I welcome the government’s notification forming the search committee. Even though including a UGC nominee would help overcome local bias, the governor doesn't have the power to issue the notification. The search committees can be formed only as per the provisions of the respective university Act," E Balagurusamy, former vice-chancellor of Anna University, said.
The governor and the UGC can persuade the government to amend these Acts to include UGC nominees. The UGC can even write a letter to all the state governments to implement its resolutions and amend the Act suitably as each state follows only the resolutions that are convenient to them. This stalemate between the governor and government will only affect the functioning of universities, Balagurusamy said.
Academicians have also been urging the state government to form search committees six months before the end of the tenure of incumbent VCs to help universities function seamlessly. "The committee constituted by the government includes the governor’s nominee as per the university statute. The governor has to act as per law and end this stalemate so that VCs can be appointed to universities," said V Saminathan, President, Tamil Nadu Retired College Teachers’ Association.
Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy had said the government would face it legally when the governor released the notification forming the committees earlier this month.