Leo Alexander, named in irregularities at Madras varsity, to appear for interview on Tuesday

On Tuesday, the University of Madras will select its new registrar after interviews with as many as 18, chosen from 26 candidates — mostly professors and administrative heads at colleges and the University.

Even as the University gears up for the process, academicians expect the government to be pro-active in its approach to appoint an efficient and upright person as custodian of the institution. It has been over a year since the post of registrar — responsible for all administrative processes and execution of decisions of the syndicate — has been occupied by an in-charge.  

Incidentally, former registrar T. Leo Alexander, who quit from his post last May after being named in the exam irregularities under probe, has also applied for the post of registrar and has been called for the interview on Tuesday.

“It has been almost 17 years since we had a registrar who finished his tenure. The last was Prof. Govindarajalu who was a University professor and knew its functioning. The rest of the appointments have not worked out well because the candidates did not have enough administrative experience,” said a senior professor.

Irregularities probe

Over the past few months, three committees probed irregularities in the evaluation procedures and each one exposed a fraudulent system.

The report of the Subburaj Committee, submitted before the Syndicate on May 31, 2012, revealed a lapse in almost every phase of the B.E./B.Tech exams (for students who enrolled ten years ago) and tampering of marks in the exams conducted by the Institute of Distance Education (IDE) in May 2011.

Following this, Mr. Alexander resigned. While vice-chancellor G. Thiruvasagam claimed that the registrar quit of his own will, the widespread belief in the Chepauk campus is that he was under pressure to resign. Mr. Alexander, who continues as the controller of examinations has not spoken to the media since then. After him, G. Koteswara Prasad, a senior professor was made in-charge of the administration.

If selected, Mr. Alexander’s case could run into rough weather at the Syndicate meeting to be held the next day. At the last meeting, most members questioned his continuation in two posts in the aftermath of the exam scandal that had put the university to shame.

Also in the fray

Among the 18 candidates who have applied for the post of registrar, is a city college professor who is also a Syndicate member. This, too, has raised eyebrows in the University. Another candidate is N. Raja Hussain who has been denied permission by the Government to continue as director of University Students Advisory Bureau.

The university had written to the director of collegiate education to allow Mr. Hussain, who was an academician attached to a private college in Vellore district, to continue in the post but T.S. Sridhar, higher education secretary, in an order dated August 14, denied the request. Surprisingly, the registrar in-charge was not aware of the order until a section of academicians took up the issue. Mr. Hussain was relieved from his post on September 1, sources said.

Repeat of the past?

In the past, the Government appointed three IAS officers — Ashok Vardhan Shetty, Jothi Jagarajan and Kolappan — as registrars of the University to streamline administration. The chances of this repeating could not be ruled out as the higher education secretary would be present at the interview on Tuesday, academicians said.

The Madras University Teachers’ Association has already passed a resolution seeking the selection of a senior professor who heads a department or a grade-I principal with significant experience and “who understands the statutes of the University and knows to tackle situations under pressure.”  

There is some discontent among senior professors with regard to Mr. Alexander appearing for the selection procedure. The K. Aludiapillai Commission’s inquiry against the 30 persons charge-sheeted with exam malpractises is underway.

“He may be eligible for the post considering he has been a professor of statistics at Loyola College. But he already holds another responsibility, that of controller of examinations,” a professor said. “He might not have been charge-sheeted. But no one can deny that the irregularities took place under his supervision,” he said.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

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