A standard-bearer must first bear that standard, Bench says quoting article

“Today Albert Einstein cannot be appointed vice-chancellor of any university [at least in India], unless he fulfils the qualifications prescribed by the University Grants Commission,” the Madras High Court Bench here said on Thursday.

Allowing two petitions for issuing a writ of quo warranto against Madurai Kamaraj University Vice-Chancellor Kalyani Mathivanan, a Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani rejected her contention that the UGC regulations need not be followed since the individual holding the post would function only as an academic head and not a teaching staff member.

Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said: “It is true that when the seeds of western education were sown in this country 150 years ago, men of eminence from various walks of life were appointed as vice-chancellors. Several judges of this court have adorned the post of VC of various universities, including the University of Madras.

“ Apart from being great (and rare) judges, those men were also distinguished academics who excelled in various fields. Students of Indian history would know that Sir John George Woodraff, who retired as the Officiating Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court…, was a great Sanskrit scholar who authored books on Mantra Sastra and Tantra Sastra. After retirement, he served as a Reader in Law at Oxford University for seven years. Great jurists (both lawyers and judges) such as Sir Subramanya Ayyar, Sir P.S. Sivaswamy Ayyar and Justice F.D. Oldfield were among a few who became Vice-Chancellors of Madras University ever since its inception.

“However, today, it is not possible to continue with the same legacy for two reasons: we do not have such tall men of great eminence; and today the field is regulated by law. Therefore, it is not possible to accept the contention that drawing inspiration from the past, one need not be a professor or even a teacher to become a vice-chancellor.”

The judge also said that in an article, ‘Why Socrates should be in the Boardroom in Research Universities,’ published in 2010 by Amanda H. Goodall, Leverhulme Fellow, Warwick Business School, the author stated that in 2003, Cambridge University appointed an anthropologist as its vice-chancellor. On the contrary, in 2004, Oxford University appointed a businessman as such. The author analysed why the two ancient and reputed institutions chose different individuals to lead them and concluded that research universities should be led only by top scholars. “One should expect the standard bearer to first bear that standard,” she concluded.

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