JNUTA slams admin for asking Romila Thapar, emeritus professors for CV

Romila_Thapar
Historian Romila Thapar is an emeritus professor at Jawaharlal Nehru Univesity (JNU). Photo - Wikimedia Commons

The JNU administration’s demand for CV from its emeritus professors, including renowned historian Romila Thapar and sociologist TK Oommen, in order to review their positions has triggered a row, with the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) terming it “politically motivated”.

The administration said the move was done in accordance with “Ordinance 32” introduced last year, as per which the university’s executive council (EC) has been mandated to review the continuation of the professors emeritus of age 75 years and above.

“For this purpose, EC will appoint a sub-committee for each existing Professor Emeritus above the age of 75 years, which will examine each case as it deems fit, including by interaction, inviting latest CV, peer group views, etc.,” it said.

Letters have been written only to those emeritus professors who fall in this category, it said.

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Expressing outrage to the demand in a statement, the JNUTA condemned the move, saying it was “a deliberate attempt to try and dishonour those who have been critical of the current administration”.

Accusing the JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar and his handpicked team in EC of pursuing an agenda to “destroy both the legacies and the promise of our university”, it demanded a formal retraction of the move and said a personal apology be issued to Thapar.

“It is embarrassing for professors emeritus to be asked such a thing,” Dr Oommen told The Hindu. “Our CVs, record of our work and achievements are easily available. What is the need to write and ask for such a thing?” he asked.

The CVs of several emeritus professors, including Thapar’s, are available on the JNU website.

The HRD Ministry on Monday, however, clarified that there is no move by the JNU to discontinue anyone’s Professor Emeritus status.

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The JNU administration also said that the move was not for discontinuation but for an informed review by the executive council, the highest statutory body of the university, and it is consistent with the practices at other reputed universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton University.

At MIT, emeritus professors are required to report their outside professional activities to their department heads annually.

In Princeton University, emeritus professors are expected to conduct their future research and University-related activities with the same ethical standards currently expected from all Princeton faculty. The University reserves the right to rescind emeritus status for conduct inconsistent with these standards.

JNUTA said Thapar and every other professor emeritus have been nominated to this honorary position for life for their immense contribution to their disciplines and to the building of JNU as an institution.

Thapar confirmed receiving the letter in July and replying to it saying “it is a lifelong honour”.

She was designated professor emerita in 1993, a full 25 years before this “misplaced guideline” was formulated, JNUTA said.