Varsity founder family rule ends

About 10 days after appointing Administrator to the 84-year old Annamalai University and suspending Vice-Chancellor, the State government on Monday introduced a Bill to repeal the existing Annamalai University Act of 1929 and replace it with a fresh piece of legislation.

Formally seeking to end the relationship being enjoyed by the family of the University Founder Annamalai Chettiar with the institution, the Bill brings in the University Act on a par with those laws governing other universities in the State.

Hereafter, Higher Education Minister will be Pro-Chancellor of the University, according to the Bill, which was moved by Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan in the Assembly. Governor will remain Chancellor.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons, accompanying the Bill, stated clearly that “though the position of the Founder appears to be a honorary one, the past experience indicates that the powers and privileges conferred on the Founder have been grossly abused.”

On April 4, the government posted Shiv Das Meena, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service belonging to the 1989 batch, as Administrator and two days later, Governor-Chancellor suspended Vice-Chancellor M. Ramanathan, holding him responsible for the lapses.

The Annamalai University Bill of 2013 is broadly in conformity with laws concerning other such universities. The Statement of Objects and Reasons adds that “the peculiar feature of the [Annamalai] University Act which vests vast powers and privileges with the Founder, had led to maladministration of the university.”

A notable feature of omission is that there will be no Senate in the university. However, the Bill has provided for Syndicate and Academic Council.

Unlike in the existing system of Pro-Chancellor recommending a panel of names to Governor-Chancellor for the post of Vice-Chancellor (VC), the appointment of VC would be made by the Chancellor out a panel of three names to be recommended by a search committee, which would have nominees of Governor-Chancellor, State government and Syndicate.

Talking of the power of the Founder in the existing scheme of things, the Bill’s Statement of Objects points out that what had been conferred on the Founder was “incompatible with an egalitarian social order and also work against the spirit of good governance.”

All appointment of officers [excluding Vice-Chancellor and Registrar], teachers and other employees would continue to hold office, subject to the conditions governing the terms of their office of employment.

The Administrator and an interim Registrar, to be appointed under the proposed law, will hold office for one year.

M. Anandakrishnan, veteran educationist, says the government is right in not making a provision for Senate, which, he calls, is an anachronism of the British era. The university can have consultative committees to get benefitted by counsel of people outside academic stream.

Bold move

Special Correspondent from Cuddalore writes:

The Joint Action Council (JAC) of teaching and non-teaching staff associations of Annamalai University has welcomed the Jayalalithaa government’s “bold move” to bring the university under its purview.

Joint coordinator of the JAC S. Mathiyalagan told The Hindu that it was a victory for the JAC’s relentless struggle.