Colombo Telegraph

Colombo University VC: A Reply To Prof. Hoole

By Savitri Goonesekere

Savitri Goonesekere

Prof. R S Hoole has in a letter published on March 20, 2013 responded to a piece written by me.

Let me clarify certain issues he has raised. I have checked my facts. Dr. Hirimburegama who has applied for the Vice Chancellor’s post in the University of Colombo is a Lecturer Grade II of this university. I did not make the derogatory remarks that Prof. Hoole suggests I made in reference to Dr. Hirimburegama. I raised the issue whether he and the other Senior Lecturer Grade II applicant for the post satisfied the requirements outlined in the public advertisement extracts of which are given below.

The university system may recognise a lower grade than Senior Lecturer Grade II. However, we are all aware that the lowest tenure track post in the system is Senior Lecturer Grade II. Why or how Dr. Hirimburegama continues in this post I do not know. In any case the issue of what is the lower post in the university system below Senior Lecturer Grade II is hardly relevant when we are discussing applications for the highest post of Vice Chancellor in the university!

Let me also clarify that it is very obvious to any reader that I referred as “Professor” to Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama and not her husband Dr. Hirimburegama. It is therefore incorrect to state that I referred to him as professor anywhere in my article.

In regard to the personal and snide comments on my qualifications may I assure Prof. Hoole that every appointment and all awards that I have received have been on the basis of my academic and professional credentials. Prof. Hoole who contributed to the formulation of the UGC’s scheme of recruitment for professors in the state university system cannot be unaware that a PhD degree receives a very few points in the total marks required and in evaluation for appointment to the post of professor. Many law professors in the world including in universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Sri Lanka have been appointed to this post on the basis of an excellent first degree, their scholarship and academic and professional achievements.

Prof. Hoole attributes personal motives to me for raising issues which I considered to be of concern to the university community, the higher education system and the public of Sri Lanka. I quote for his information the following extracts from the advertisement for the post of Vice Chancellor University of Colombo that appeared in the press. The advertisement came from the office of the Registrar University of Colombo dated 5th February 2013.

“The University of Colombo is the only metropolitan university in Sri Lanka and a rapidly developing pioneer educational institution … linked to the then Ceylon University College and the University of Ceylon. Regionally and internationally the University of Colombo is recognized as a highly reputed institution … The University of Colombo has a campus, 7 Faculties, 6 Institutes and a School, providing … programmes to a population of approximately 25,000 students in undergraduate, post graduate and extension progr4ammes.

The Vice Chancellor shall be … the principal executive officer and the principal academic officer. She/he is an ex officio member and the Chairperson of the Council and the Senate of the University… and the accounting officer of the university.

The Vice Chancellor shall be a person with a vision to carry forward the corporate goals of the University through her/his intellectual as well as managerial brilliance.”

The applicant/nominee is therefore expected to be a person of high academic calibre and integrity with a record of outstanding achievements with excellent communication skills along with an ability to stimulate diverse interests of the students and staff.”

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