Making a point-to-point rebuttal of allegations levelled against him, the Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University M. Ponnavaikko said on Wednesday that the university has not received any communication so far on the appointment of a fact-finding commission by the Government.
Addressing a press conference, Prof. Ponnavaikko emphasised that there was "not an iota of corruption or irregularity" in the university’s faculty appointments, purchase of computers, construction of buildings, starting of personal contact programme centres, and in the administration of the hostels, the issues on which aspersions have been cast. No mention of the allegations was made at the meeting of the Finance Committee at Chennai on September 17, he said.
"In my entire career in government, public sector and private sector undertakings, and in colleges and universities spanning about four decades, there was no blemish in service records," Prof. Ponnavaikko said, explaining that the role of a Vice-Chancellor in making appointments to faculty positions was limited to providing guidance and ratifying the candidates chosen by the Selection Committee formed as per UGC guidelines with representation of the nominees of the Governor, the Government and experts.
To buttress his assertion that only the best candidates were chosen, he said the 69 faculties appointed last year to vacancies in university departments have succeeded in bringing in Rs. 30 crore research funding and have brought out over 2,000 research articles and citations. A similar procedure was adopted for choosing 36 faculties for the constituent colleges in Perambalur, Lalgudi and Orthanad. The process of appointing the Principals for the colleges has, however, been put on hold since there was a variance in the norms of the UGC, based on which the University earlier went ahead with the appointment, and the Government stipulations.
As for the orders placed for computers, the process, again executed in compliance with the Tamil Nadu Purchase Tender Procedure by a Purchase Committee, was centralised this time to bring down the costs owing to bulk transaction. "The Vice-Chancellor is not a part of the Purchase Committee," Prof. Ponnavaikko said, adding that anybody can verify the documents of the purchase procedure.
On building constructions, he said for small constructions, the tasks was handed over to the list of vendors approved by the Public Works Department, as per the approved rate of contract. For constructions worth up to Rs. 30 lakhs the University follows the tender procedure laid down by the Government.
The university has issued a stern communication to the franchisees running the distance education centres in Mumbai and elsewhere that fees levied in excess of the specified amount has to be refunded. Else the recognition of the centres will be withdrawn, he said, when his attention was drawn to the instance of the PCP Centre in Mumbai charging one lakh rupees per semester for the MBA programme, against Rs. 8,500 fixed by the university.
As regards the hostel administration, the Vice-Chancellor said that steps have already been initiated to address the issues raised by the students. The demand for a separate mess for Ph.D. Scholars will be considered, he said.
Prof. Ponnavaikko said that as per the university statute, there was no hitch in convening the meeting of the Syndicate scheduled for September 24.