KARACHI: The vice chancellor of the University of Karachi, Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, passed away here on Saturday, it was officially announced.

The eminent educationist, a revered scholar and scientist of high calibre, had been suffering from cardiovascular disease.

He went to a private hospital for his dental check-up on Friday where his health deteriorated in the night and he died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

His funeral prayers were offered at Jamia Masjid Ibrahim, KU, and later he was buried in the KU graveyard.

His funeral was attended by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Education Minister Sardar Shah, politicians representing various parties, former KU VCs Prof Muhammad Qaiser and Prof Pirzada Qasim, VCs of several universities, teachers and others.

Born on July 1, 1952, Dr Khan became the 17th VC of the public sector university in January 2017.

An official statement quoted Dr Khan saying that he had accepted the highest seat as a challenge. “I have to turn the varsity into a top one of the world. I am aware of the challenges faced by the university and [will] do my best to resolve them,” he had stated.

He was a noted Pakistani botanist and his teaching and research career spanned over 44 years. For his outstanding services in plant sciences he had received numerous prestigious local and international awards, including presidential award Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2008.

He has also received fellowship of Fulbright Academy of Sciences and The World Innovation Foundation, Switzerland, in 2006, HEC-Distinguished National Professor and Honour Professor, Shijiazhuang Institute for Agriculture Modernisation, China, in 2005, fellowship of Third World Academy of Science in 2003, fellowship of Pakistan Academy of Science and presidential award Pride of Performance in August 2001.

Based on Information Science Institute, Baltimore, USA Journal Citation Report, the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology had ranked him among the leading scientists of all disciplines.

He was awarded DSc in Botany from the KU in 2010, PhD in physiological ecology from Ohio University in 1985, BSc (hons) and MSc in plant physiology from the KU in 1974. He did his intermediate from Jamia Millia College and matriculation from a government school.

The KU administration said all classes and exams scheduled on Sunday (today) had been postponed and new dates would be announced later. The scheduled academic activities remained suspended on Saturday.

The KU will hold a reference for the late VC on Monday.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019