Engineer-turned-artiste Soorya Krishnamoorthy is an appointment from outside academic circles

Calicut University has come under fire from experts on the appointment of engineer-turned-artiste Soorya Krishnamoorthy as the Dean of Faculty of Fine Arts.

Rajan Gurukkal, former Vice-Chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi University, said the Deans should ideally be people who have a track record in teaching and research. Varsities should check such credentials before appointing deans, he said.

“We should not forget that Kerala has got Kathakali exponents who had spent at least 40 to 50 years in the field. But one would not become an expert in Kathakali, if he writes an English essay on Kathakali. Such a person also cannot be made the dean of a university,” he said.

Mr. Gurukkal also raised his doubts about the credentials of Soorya Krishnamoorthy in the theatre field. “He brought only technology into theatre; his sound and light shows can be considered at best engineering works. Theatre is not technology but a vast knowledge of production area, he said.

K.N. Panikkar, historian and former vice-chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, said appointment of people from outside [the academic circle] as Deans has become a common practice in the State.

“It’s not wise. The position of a Dean is a very important as he has to co-ordinate various activities. Senior people in the university holding permanent positions are usually appointed as Deans of various faculties. To have people from outside is not an academically sound decision,” he said.

But historian M.G.S. Narayanan had a different take. There were no specific guidelines for the appointment of a Dean, he said. “In an area like performing arts, the degree of the person does not matter much. Moreover, Soorya Krishnamoorthy has proved his abilities in the field. He is also the chairman of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi,” he said.

M. Abdul Salam, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calicut, said the selection committee considered the valuable contributions and expertise of Soorya Krishnamoorthy while appointing him as the Dean of Faculty of Arts. “The role of a Dean is not to teach. There are very few people who have the capacity to start new programmes and activities in the field of fine arts. We have not violated any regulations in the selection of Soorya Krishnamoorthy,” he said.

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