Xavier's varsity gets vice-chancellor
Feb. 15: Father Felix Raj, the principal of St. Xavier's College, will be the first vice-chancellor of St. Xavier's University.
"As vice-chancellor, my first task will be to form the governing board of the university, which will consist of 36 members," Felix Raj said, adding that he would take over the reins of the Rajarhat university with "immediate effect".
Father Jeyaraj Veluswamy, the chancellor of the university who appointed Felix Raj as VC, also appointed professor Ashis Mitra as registrar.
The bill for setting up the university, which will be operational by the first week of July, was unanimously passed by the Assembly on December 15. Governor K.N. Tripathi gave his consent to the bill on January 16, which was followed by a notification of the legislation by the government on February 8.
The governing board, which will include a state government nominee and a UGC representative, will meet for the first time on the university campus on April 28.
"St. Xavier's College, which gave birth to the university, kept its quality for 157 years and has become the number one college in India. The university will emulate that. It will in no way compromise on quality," Felix Raj told Metro.
Teachers, to be drawn from both India and abroad, will be paid on a par with that of state universities.
According to the St. Xavier's University Kolkata Act, all St. Xavier's colleges in the state can become constituents of the new institution.
"We will initiate the process (of adding colleges as constituents) only after we are properly established, which will take three to five years," said Felix Raj, who joined the Jesuit Order in Calcutta in 1973 and has been associated with St. Xavier's College Calcutta since 1984 in various capacities - lecturer, vice-principal, rector and principal.
The university will start its journey by offering the BCom, BBA, MCom, MA in English, master's in social work and MA in journalism courses.
The academic block, a six-storeyed building with provisions to add another six floors, can accommodate 5,000 students in the first phase and is ready. It will house the offices of the VC, registrar, finance officer and the controller till the administrative building is ready.
Sources said the administrative building could open doors in three years.
In the first phase, the campus will also have the Jesuit residence, which will include the VC's quarters, a library-cum-research block, the first phase of the hostels for both girls and boys and a utility building which will house a bank, an ATM, indoor games facilities, a cafeteria, a gym and staff quarters.
Also in the first phase, the campus will have an auditorium with 3,000 seats and a central assembly hall for students to meet for various activities, prayer and workshops.
By 2020 the campus will have a Hall of Fame, which will highlight the 500-year history of the Jesuits with a special focus on their work in the field of education across the world, history of St. Xavier's which has shaped luminaries such as Rabindranath Tagore and Jagadis Chandra Bose and an artistic museum showcasing Bengal's culture.
A management development programme block is also on the cards, which will house the alumni office and also include conference rooms and residential facilities.
"In the second phase we would like to start a law college and a sports academy," said Felix Raj.
Firdausul Hasan, honorary secretary, St. Xavier's College Calcutta Alumni Association, said: "The university is the materialisation of Father Felix Raj's visionary dreams. We are thankful to him for giving us the chance to play our part in Vision 2020 and do something for our alma mater."