KARACHI, July 1: Academic and administrative activities at the Federal Urdu University for Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) have been suffering for more than four months because of the absence of a full-time vice chancellor, sources told Dawn.
The process initiated for the appointment of a vice chancellor has not been completed yet as the university is awaiting an approval from the president, the chancellor of the university, to hold a senate meeting of the university, the sources said.
“There has been no response to the letter sent to the chancellor more than 20 days ago. We need his permission to hold a meeting of the university senate on the subject. Perhaps, the chancellor is too busy with his political engagements these days that he does not have time for educational matters,” an official of the Urdu university said.
The undue delay in the appointment of vice chancellor has given rise to the speculations on the campus that efforts are being made to include another name in the list of candidates finalised by a search committee.
A number of teachers at the university Dawn spoke to expressed concern over the delay in the appointment of a full-time vice chancellor.
They said that prevailing uncertainty over the most important university post was damaging, both academically and administratively for the university.
“I believe this is because of the flawed university ordinance that has a very complicated procedure for the appointment of a vice chancellor and has no provision for an acting vice chancellor when one resigns from his post,” said Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, chairperson of the mass communication department of the Urdu university.
The university, he pointed out, had a history of delayed appointments of vice chancellors. In this regard, he recalled the time after the exit of former VCs Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui and Prof Dr Iqbal Mohsin and the university had to be run by an administrator and later by a dean of the faculty of science for more than a year.
To a question whether another name could be included in the list already finalised by the search committee, he said, “It is not legally possible, though the entire selection process can be conducted again on the directives of the president or if the senate decides to do so.”
Although teachers appreciated Dr Qaiser’s efficiency in performing dual jobs as being the head of Karachi University and the Urdu university at the same time, they said that it was beyond his capacity to do justice to both jobs and the institution needed a full-time vice chancellor.
It needs to be recalled that the post for a full-time vice chancellor at the university fell vacant when Dr Mohammad Qaiser joined Karachi University as its vice chancellor in February.
A directive from the chancellor, however, allowed him to remain the head of the federal Urdu university till the process for the selection of a new vice chancellor for the university was completed.
Under his instructions, a selection process was initiated that involved inviting applicants through newspaper advertisements and their interviews, which were conducted by the search committee formulated under the university ordinance.
The search committee recommended four names for the post — Dr Syed Altaf Hussain (rector of the Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education), Dr Moinuddin Ahmed (foreign faculty member at the Urdu university), Dr Shahid Mehboob Rana (former vice chancellor of the Government College University, Faisalabad) and Dr Zafar Iqbal (dean of arts faculty of Karachi University).
The names of Prof Dr Qamarul Haq, Urdu university registrar and Prof Dr Abuzar Wajidi, director of the KU evening programme, reportedly carried equal weight and it was decided that both the names would not be included in the list.
Explaining the procedure for a vice chancellor’s appointment under the university ordinance, a senior teacher said that the names of four or five individuals selected by the search committee were forwarded to the university senate which held its meeting after getting the go-ahead from the chancellor.
The senate, he said, dropped one or two names from the list and forwarded only three names to the chancellor who appointed one of the candidates as the vice chancellor.
Upon contact, Prof Dr Qamrul Haq denied that educational and administrative activities were being affected in the absence of a permanent vice chancellor while admitting that “there is a difference when an academic institution has a full-time head.”
“Dr Qaiser is the vice chancellor of the Urdu university, but he has also taken the charge of KU vice chancellor. I remain in constant contact with Dr Qaiser the whole day to carry out administrative work,” he said.
On the senate’s authority, he differed from Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan’s opinion and said the senate had an authority to include another name in the list of candidates, though the chances of that decision were slim.
Giving his opinion, Dr Qaiser said that he was overburdened and wanted that the process of the selection was completed as soon as possible.
“Yes, I am very much concerned and keeping my fingers crossed for the process to be completed soon.”
Individuals who have so far headed the Urdu university since its establishment in 2002 included: Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, Mr Aftab Ahmed, Prof Dr Iqbal Mohsin, Prof Dr Syed Kamaluddin and Prof Dr Mohammad Qaiser.