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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LEADERSHIP IN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES

With the growth of private universities in India and every state in a rush to create new universities, the demand for people at leadership positions for these universities is on the rise. Where are these leaders going to come from and what will it take to create the great private university in India?

I am of the view that there is still some time before we achieve that objective of the great private university of India. The conditions are not yet in existence for such a university to be created. Having said that, I believe that we are now moving in the right direction and we should begin to see some good private universities emerge. It is important to note that most private universities in India are brick and mortar projects and thus leadership required for such projects is very different from an existing university in the public domain. The tragedy of public universities is that they are so political in character that the nature of leadership has almost no impact on its functioning and academic environment. Given such a situation there is a lot of room for private universities to challenge the academic domain of public universities. The elements of good leadership for private universities will have to have the following:

  1. Ability to have a great vision which can be supported by the promoters and the power to convince the stakeholders to have a long-term perspective for the university. Good universities are not made overnight, they take time and a lot of money to achieve the status of a center of excellence. The promoter can only be founder as the university should outlast his existence and should become larger than life concept.
  2. University leadership should understand that universities are not built for today; they are the creators of the future of the Nation and focus their academic process in that direction.
  3. Times have changed and universities cannot teach anything to anyone and thus they should focus their attention of creating an academic environment where learning is promoted at all levels of instruction and research. This would require academic leaders to shift their attention to finding new ways of doing things.
  4. Leadership at Universities will have the increasing challenge of finding the right people who have a desire to be in the field of academics. Teachers by default are becoming the norm these days and a large number of people who have not been able to make into the industry seem to be finding academics as an option. This trend is destructive to the very nature of universities. The academic rigor of universities with such faculty will always be a question mark in the field of education.
  5. University leadership has to ensure that the interest of the faculty members is protected and insulated from the pressures of the promoters who may not have a clear understanding of the long-term character of a university system. Salary and benefit packages of the faculty have to become at par with that of Industry to attract the best from the market. The faculty has to be provided sufficient incentives and encouragement to excel in their field of specialization. We cannot have faculty members teaching 20 hours and expect them to be good at research as well…where is the time for it..
  6. Leadership in a team environment is the need of the day in private universities. Everyone is working towards achieving the same objective of creating a unique university of the future.
  7. Leaders in private university have to create an environment for research and publication and avoid distributing academic designation to everyone. Handholding will be required in the initial stages and will require the push to create some sources of funding for research centers.
  8. They need to be visionaries who are not going to be worried about giving up their jobs and moving on it they are not allowed to do what they are supposed to do in creating a university. Those that keep wagging their tails at the call of the master are not likely to make great universities.

These are just some thought and hope to keep adding to this though process...



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