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Delhi University gets a new Vice-Chancellor

Lakshmi B. Ghosh

YES, PROFESSOR: The new Delhi University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Deepak Pental (left) with teachers in his office soon after taking charge on Thursday. PHOTO: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

NEW DELHI: Ending Delhi University's four-month-long wait for a new head, the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development on Thursday appointed Prof. Deepak Pental as its new Vice-Chancellor.

Extremely popular among the University community for his easygoing demeanour and apolitical approach, the former Director of the Delhi University South Campus and Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants took charge just hours after the official notification, spending most of the day in his new office meeting teachers and receiving congratulatory telephone calls.

Known for his work in the field of crop manipulation, Prof. Pental said his goal would be to try and bring innovation and creativity into the education system and to ensure that the students do not get lost in structured study packages. "Innovation in education is very important and needs to be promoted. And it is not just science education; there should be innovation in management too, so that we manage to get the best of students and teachers to the University.''

Urging the University community to think big, Prof. Pental said the immediate need is to ensure that education on the campus is "top class''.

While pointing out that there were many areas of concern, right from the state of science education at the undergraduate level to the level of research and the question of finding good faculty to looking into why the University was not producing enough Ph.Ds, Prof. Pental said there was much thinking to do.

"We have to strengthen the quality at the undergraduate level because that is the feeding place for what you get at the postgraduate level. We are putting students through professional education too fast. There is too much hurry. There is a growing need to give the young ones more choice in what they can study. The ability to move and have interdisciplinary exposure should be promoted. We have to bring about change, be it through new books or for that matter even a new way of managing education,'' said the Professor.

Having served as an important member of his predecessor Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar's team that brought about many changes on the campus over the past five years, Prof. Pental dismissed all criticism of the internal assessment system voiced by some factions of the University. "Internal assessment only ensures that students have exams through the year instead of being assessed by a single one at the end of the term. It is the future of the country and it is not based on any ideological basis but on the factual situation facing us today. We just need to look at what is pushing it back and mend it. The problem is we often tend to look at the smaller picture. It is time we started thinking bigger.''

Taking charge of office a day before the Delhi University Students' Union (DUSU) elections on the campus, the new Vice-Chancellor even has ideas to make the polls a better deal in the coming years.

"We should seriously look at making the DUSU elections paper-free by switching to the electronic mode like the country's general elections. At a time when so many children in the country don't even have money to buy study books, wasting so much on campaigning is not a good idea.''

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