Journalism board chairman’s appointment

Close on the heels of a dispute over teacher appointments at the newly set up Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur, yet another controversy has erupted over the appointment of the chairman for the Board of Studies for Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ). Madavana Balakrishna Pillai, who was appointed chairman, allegedly does not have a postgraduate degree. Mr. Pillai claimed to have B.Sc. and LLB degrees. Several members on the board had decided not to continue (as members) in protest. Mr. Pillai’s recent appointment as chairman of the postgraduate board at Kerala University too was challenged by students and teachers.

A senior board member, requesting anonymity, told The Hindu that he would quit in protest. “Having a person without basic qualification as head of a postgraduate board of studies is ridiculous. I do not want to associate with such a body,” he said.

K. Jayakumar, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said Mr. Pillai had been appointed chairman as he was heading the Department of Journalism at Mahatma Gandhi (MG) University for the past 17 years. He said he did not look into Mr. Pillai’s qualifications as he was heading a postgraduate department for many years.

Journalism academics in the Kerala and Calicut Universities pointed out that the mass communication wing of MG University did not have the status of a full-fledged department as it was running a journalism postgraduate programme in self-financing mode.

No permanent teacher had been appointed for the MCJ programme of MG University. Mr. Pillai’s bio-data posted on the website of MG Mahatma Gandhi University says that he was an honorary Professor and had B.Sc. and LLB degrees. It also says that he had ‘completed MA (JMC) course.’ “That is ridiculous. There is no such academic title as honorary Professor, that too for a person without a postgraduate degree,” said a senior teacher. Jacob George, vice-president of the MCJ Alumni Association at Kerala University, said, “a man without basic qualifications should not be allowed to head a board of studies for a research department.” “It cannot be brooked at any cost. It will be an insult to the entire academic community in the State,” Mr. George said.

The journalism postgraduate students and MCJ Alumni Association of Kerala University protested against the appointment of Mr. Pillai as the Board of Studies chairman there.

They complained to Kerala University Vice-Chancellor K.M. Abraham against the appointment. Mr. Abraham assured the students that he would look into it and take action.

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