24 September, 2020

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University Of Jaffna – A New Beginning

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Every tidbit of news from University Jaffna seemed troubling if not horrible over the past years – a don caught having sex in his office with a student and still being appointed VC, the present VC forcing senior academics to endorse best wishes for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election, a Dean altering receipts and still continuing in office, violation of tender procedures and the person responsible being appointed VC, pre-Council meetings where Council members were told exactly how to vote, a book discussion banned by the present VC and the VC telling the BBC that the Teachers’ Union and students had asked for the ban even as the University Teachers’ Association President Amirthalingam Rasakumaran denied that he had written to the VC asking for the ban of the book discussion, appointments in violation of the ordinances of the UGC and the Universities Act, etc.

Problems at other universities seemed to have been decisively cleared afer the new government was returned but not at Jaffna. It was said that the old council members appointed by Douglas Devananda and dutifully rubber stamped by the UGC had refused to resign upon being asked to do so. Ironically the UGC chairperson had resigned but the council members at Jaffna were hanging on under the leadership of Council Member and former VC Prof. P. Balasundarampillai. Even within the TNA which had worked for the election of this government, cracks were emerging as some TNA stalwarts grumbled that the reforms of January 8 did not seem to reach Jaffna. However, Mr. R. Sampanthan, the staid TNA leader, remained complacent and confident. And he was right.

For suddenly the skies seemed to clear. Global Tamil News just reported that a new set of external council members have been appointed. In effect, the old incorrigible Devananda Council had been fired. The TNA had made input to the process. Mr. R. Sampanthan had devolved the responsibility of liaising with the government to MPs Mavai Senathirajah, M.A. Sumanthiran and E. Saravanapavan and they have done an excellent job working with Minister for Higher Education Sarath Amunugama. Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Union too had worked with the TNA in successfully getting sound people on board.

The new Council members are a diverse group and were clearly not appointed to serve any particular ideology. Indeed they reflect a diversity of political leanings and thereby reflect the liberal ethos of the government without any fear of those who hold different opinions. That is as it should be. They have been appointed to bring to the council the diversity of strengths so important to a university. One might say that Jaffna now has the best Council among all the universities in Sri Lanka. The new members are:

1) Prof. S.K. Sittrampalam (Emeritus Professor of History, Jaffna), 2) Prof. V. Tharmaratnam (Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Jaffna), 3) [Medical] Dr. Lakshman, 4) Cancer Specialist N. Jeyakumaran of Jaffna Hospital, 5) Finite element computation pioneer Dr. K. Vigneswaran of the All Ceylon Tamil Maha Sabha, 6) Rtd. Skanda Principal Aaru Thirumurugan, 7) Rtd. Permanent Secretary Devanesan Nesiah, 8) Jaffna GA and District Secretary N. Vethanayahan, 9) Prof. Ratnayake (who I believe is the former UGC Vice Chairman Lakshman Ratnayake, 10) Prof. S.H. Hasbullah I believe from Peradeniya and the National Peace Council, 11) Kanapathipillai whose initials were not given to permit firm identification, 12) Rtd. Prof. from Peradeniya’s Mechanical Engineering S. Sivasegaram, 13) Mano Sekarm who I believe is the business leader, and 14) S. Rangarajan the former Chief Secretary, North East Provincial Council

The government, minister Amunugama and the TNA have to be warmly congratulated for this council that brings variegated points of view to the university’s management including diverse political views. I do not think any previous government has done as well in this important matter.

University of Jaffna now has no excuses and we look forward to a return to the rule of law and commitment to freedom of thought as it should be at a university worthy of its name.

I wish the university the best. We all must.

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    We would be hoping to receive service of veteran Tamil graduates in our area not very late.

  • 6
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    Wow, wow, wow…

    It is heartening to realize Prof. Hoole is still keeping an eye on the university system in general and UofJ in particular. You must love the place very much. I hope the system will get back to its former glory someday. But, right now, it is just pumping out a bunch of self-centered, egotistical screwballs with heads too big to pass through normal door frames in a regular office. That is why they are only suited for government jobs.

  • 5
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    Hope the new council members would provide good guidance to the Jaffna university academic staff to wake them up from the zombie states to productive educators.

    I have known to some of the academic staff at Jaffna. They are good people. They work hard. They need professional help from outsiders to train them how to work together as team and be productive.

    I was told 100+ Science graduates from Jaffna University completed PhDs in the last 30 years and most of them are working outside of Sri Lanka.

    Many of them are working at the first class research institutions in developed countries. Some are academics, researchers and entrepreneurs. I don’t think many would come back to Jaffa but they would most probably do collaborative projects with staff at University of Jaffna. These are well established researchers and won’t expect the Jaffna University to pay their airfare or personal expenses. They would even get grant from outside to fund these collaborative projects.

    USE THEM!

    It’s a privilege to work at University of Jaffna.

    No publications or genuine research activates in the last 5 years then fire the underachievers or put them on probation for next 5 years.

    Academic staff cannot behave like they are in a social welfare system.

    And they cannot keep dreaming of their achievements in the early twenties then waste the next 30 years for nothing.

    They have to keep rolling productively every day until they go on retirement. They have to be productive because they are in the group of highly compensated state employees.

    If a vehicle is not efficient then repair it. If it cannot be salvaged then dump it or use it for other purposes and get a new vehicle.

    Finding a good replacement staff won’t be an issue any more. After all, Jaffna has the long history to produce good educators coming from local schools from all directions.

    Get rid of bad weeds!

  • 4
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    I think The Jaffna Uni should focus and take a lead in identifying the trends, problems and the difficulties of the their people in provincial, regional and universal perspective. The early identification and forecast of The emerging trends and problems in field of social ,economical and health science is important. Make the studies are research and presentation oriented rather than text book studies. Make it compulsory that Each student accomplish at least one study, invention or innovation during the course of study. The society should contribute its share by participating,financing, cooperating and encouraging such initiatives. The public should take a valiant effort in transforming our society. The experience gained universally by the Tamils and in Tamil Nadu is a grate advantage for them. Take the opportunity to make use of it. Also it is important to get the cooperation and support of academics from the all the Universities in SL.
    I think begin graduate studies in at least one school in each AGA division. They can focus and develop in one subject each.
    I Tamilnadu the students graduate by the age of 18 or 19 and finish there post grad studies by 21 or 22 yrs of age.
    either reduce the period and quantity of GCE(a/l) curriculum or increase it to make it a degree. Organise a local TV for education .

  • 1
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    Katmai, how right you are!

    “But, right now, it is just pumping out a bunch of self-centered, egotistical screwballs with heads too big to pass through normal door frames in a regular office”
    “That is why they are only suited for government jobs.”

    If I remember right, in my day, University of Colombo Students from Jaffna, were only good at reproducing the notes read out by the Tutors and lecturers.
    They could not think for themselves.

    • 1
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      Hello. hamlet
      Let us know the period you were at university of colombo and we will see how many students from jaffna are doing well now and what their achievements compared to you.
      Sounds like you are a pea brained racist ass.

      • 0
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        Sarath, were you also one of those:-
        ‘Students from Jaffna, who were only good at reproducing the notes read out by the Tutors and lecturers.’

  • 0
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    I enjoy reading your balanced writing Professor Hoole. When will you be visiting Sri Lanka next I wish to make it a point to visit SL the same time you are there and meet with you. We seem to have a lot in common. Thank you.

    JP / USA

  • 7
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    Prof Hoole is after his ultimate goal. He made a statement in support of MR during the time he was contesting for VC post, this was in relation to MR’s Oxford Union speech. He went behind Douglas to get The VC post. He is only after his personal goal. This time he may have a batter chance as Nesiah is in the council. The present VC has to go.

    • 4
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      Roger,

      You are absolutely right.

      If my recollection is right, Ratnajeevan rushed back to Sri Lanka after MR took the reins, and reassured all of us with absolute certainty in these columns that MR will honour his promise – the promise he had made over a tea at Temple-trees to make Hoole the VC.

      Hoole then rushed to Jaffan to take control and was chased away by the podian, Douglas. As result and out of fear for his life, Hoole took flight promptly to take up an Assistant Lecturer job, the best he could get, in the West.

      This Prof, and the few other “Dr’s”, including the two-brothers as well as DJ are made of the same cloth — despite their higher education, became so gullible in pursuit of their fantasy-goals, and made to look so foolish by the uneducated, uncouth, imbecilic MR clan.

      Who then is smarter – these double degreed profs or the moronic back-door entrants to the law college?!

      • 1
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        Typical comment by Roger and Kumar R – write something untrue then attack the person who they claimed said it.

        As I recall, Prof. Hoole never supported the President in the Oxford Union thing. What he wrote is that anyone should be allowed to speak at a university, Oxford had to honour its invitation and by keeping Rajapakse out, an opportunity had been missed to grill him. What is supportive of Rajapakse in that position? I am sure he could have been exposed if a discussion had been organized instead of blocking him. People can disagree because Rajapakse was also humiliated. But I think it would have been very effective to ask him about the massacres on the beaches and I agree with Prof. In a sense the book ban at jaffna is similar but the consensus now is that any discussion should be allowed exactly as Prof. wrote.

        I am not sure if you two are simply cooking up to make your dirty propaganda or are so prejudiced that you have lost your senses and read the meaning you want.

        For example Prof did not rush to Jaffna to be VC. He had been living and working in Jaffna as UGC Coordinator for several months and went to Colombo when Rajapakse called him according to the accounts he has written.

        For another example when Prof. fled Sri Lanka in 2011 it was not to be an assistant professor, “the best he could get.” He has been at full professorial rank since his California days. I do not think either of you can get even an Assistant Professor position in the short time Prof. had. Can you?

        Are you a liars or are you psychos who see only what you want to see?

  • 1
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    Dear Prof,

    “Finite element computation pioneer Dr. K. Vigneswaran of the All Ceylon Tamil Maha Sabha”

    Just curiosity – what did he do in Finite Element?

    Thanks

    • 1
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      Prof o.c.zinkiewicz is a pioneer.

  • 3
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    Sivasegaram from Engineering Faculty Peradeniya was not a Professor. If he is in the council, he will see that noting takes place at Jaffna University. He will only criticize everything and will do nothing.

    • 1
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      You are wrong. Prof.S.Sivasegaram is a Professor with two or three PHDs

      • 0
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        Two or three PhDs? Shankar you are either untruthful or very naive. Hero worship Prof. Sivasegaram if you must but be realistic in that adoration. I know him. He is very precise to the point of making a nuisance of himself. He would never have made that claim.

  • 2
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    ”University of Jaffna now has no excuses and we look forward to a return to the rule of law and commitment to freedom of thought as it should be at a university worthy of its name.
    I wish the university all the best.”

    Do.

  • 2
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    Well said. We need how can provide constructive criticism not criticism for the sake of criticism

    • 0
      1

      Why not Dr.Hoole will make super VC.

  • 5
    2

    Roger,
    You seem to know some background info of the Prof which I can confirm. I have not seen any official announcement on the change of the U of J Council and the new membership. Unless I can confirm the change officially it is too premature to celebrate. I am surprised a Professor relied on a news website for his pronouncement without giving the reader a link to this article. I could not find in the Global Tamil News any reference to what the Prof said “Just Reported”. May be his inside information is yet to be published. If someone finds such a reference please correct me.

    If what the Prof says is true, there is a possibility that one of the person who was listed in his list, whom I know, who was campaigning for appointing the Prof as VC after Prof Balasunderampillai’s Term ended may have given the Prof the information.

    You may recall that the Prof. came back to Sri Lanka when Chandrika was President and Kadirgamar was FM and advisor to Chandrika, he was appointed by Chandrika as member of the UGC. It is after that the U of J Council recommended the Prof as one of the candidate to be VC. Chandrika chose the Prof. The LTTE for reasons best known to them objected and hounded him out of office. The second attempt by his supporters failed.

    If the story that the Prof is writing is true, with Chandrika in an influential position, may support if the Council nominate the Prof as one of the three candidates. But this time around she may not as she seem beyond such influence.

    I would like to see a Vice Chancellor from outside Sri Lanka (It may be Sri Lankans who have attained academic and administrative distinction overseas, be appointed by the Present President, who so far seem an honest and concerned person, without any consultation from the old or new Council, on a 10 Year contract, to renovate, restructure, re-motivate and retool the University of Jaffna to bring it into the 21st Century.

    • 2
      6

      Dear Dr Ethirveerasingam,

      Your writing sounds careless to me for someone with a Cornell PhD. What are you writing? – first that Chandrika will support Prof. Hoole to be VC again and then she will not support etc. Your are also wrong on Prof. Hoole’s appointment as VC by Chandrika. He was made VC in 2006, well after Chandrika left office.

      I have never seen official UGC announcements of Councils. It is newspapers that usually report the Councils. Perhaps you should try different search engines. I could easily find

      http://www.tamilwin.com/show-RUmtyERZSUjvyI.html

      It confirms the list given by Prof. Hoole. One member on the list further confirmed to me that the Registrar has told him about the next meeting. Yet another on the list confirmed that he has been appointed.

      You on the other hand are just speculating, it seems to me. As a Cornell PhD you will know to be careful about what you write, particularly your criticism, or you will be “hanged on your own nail” as they say. Please be serious when you write in this widely read forum.

      I recall your appointment as Advisor to the dreaded General Chandrasri in 2013 and it sounds like you are still in his pay and riding the EPDP bandwagon. Now that the General is gone, did you ask Chandrika for another job to know that this time round she is beyond influence?

    • 0
      0

      Dr. Ethirveerasingam,

      I just noticed your post. The link I used is
      http://globaltamilnews.net/GTMNEditorial/tabid/71/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/119008/language/ta-IN/article.aspx

      But I did not rely only on that. I verified independently from some on the list. Far be it from me to post relying only on a news website.

      There is too much speculation here in these comments for me to participate comfortably. I am not sure why you brought the late Lakshman Kadirgamar and Chandrika into your post. What point were you making?

      Thank you.

      Jeevan

  • 3
    2

    John,
    Thanks for the tamilwin site. I only checked the website the Prof mentioned and also the UGC website latest news as they are the ones who make recommendations for VC and Councils. tamilwin said the UGC appointed, but UGC nor other news media, I checked had not carried the story. I shall wait for the original source before I trust any news media.

    Thanks for the correction. You are right. Prof R. Hoole was appointed by Pres Rajapaksa in 2006 when Prof Mohnadas’s (Not Prof Balasunderampillai as I mentioned.) term was ending. My apologies to Prof R. Hoole. In searching I came up on another article on the Prof. Hoole’s Rejection of his appointment as Prof in Computer science. That was discrimination and the Univ of Jaffna should be condemned for their action. I think Prof. R. Hoole is qualified for that and a also a Professorship in the Engineering Faculty. His competence in these fields are valuable.

    When I mentioned Chandrika MAY you took it as WILL!

    Ex Gov Chandrasiri did give me a letter of appointment as consultant and took a picture. But what you and others had no way of knowing is that I did not accept it not because it had no salary attached to it.

    YOUR LAST PARAGRAPH IS DISGRACEFUL FOR ANY PERSON TO PEN IT, WHOEVER YOU ARE. THE LAST TIME I CORRESPONDED WITH Pres Chandrika IS WHEN SHE OFFERED ME A NEW YEAR’S TITLE IN APRIL 1998 AND I DECLINED IT. AS FOR DOUGLAS, THE ONLY CONNECTION I HAVE IS, REGRETFULLY, HE IS AN OLD BOY OF THE SAME SCHOOL I WENT TO. AND HE OCCUPIES SRITHAR CINEMA,ILLEGALLY, and refuse to vacate it. It BELONGS TO THE FAMILY OF MY MATERNAL UNCLE. BUT THEN THERE IS NO WAY OF YOU KNOWING IT. WITH SUCH IGNORANCE, YOUR INNUENDO, TELLS ME A LOT ABOUT YOU THAT I DO NOT WISH TO KNOW.

  • 0
    2

    Ethirveerasingam, [Edited out]

  • 3
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    It is a two step process
    1. get rid of this VC – government should do that. JafUni desrves a better person for this job.
    2. Get rid of Douglas – Jaffna people should do that.
    Both are occupying position they should never be even going near. Both have done immense damage to the Tamil people
    and investigate them for all their wrong doing and punish them. Nobody is above the law however low they are.

  • 1
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    A CORRECTION WITH APOLOGY
    It appears that the engineer Vigneswaran appointed to the University of Jaffna Council is “P.Vigneswaran, engineer of Ootru” as subsequently communicated to me.

    To answer Anpu’s comment, the K. Vigneswaran I had referred to is indeed a pioneer in finite element analysis. The field, my field of specialization, was booming after O.C. Zienkiewicz and Cheung’s classic paper from 1965 that made the method well known using the power of digital computations (although the method can be traced to Russia by B.G. Galerkin in 1915 using hand calculations).

    K. Vigneswaran did his PhD in finite elements in 1968 or so (which means he was already working on it as the Zienkiewicz and Cheung paper came out) at Waterloo as the field emerged and blossomed. As it is widely conceded, Waterloo, McGill and Toronto have the best engineering programs in Canada.

    My sincere apologies to both Vigneswarans.

    • 0
      0

      Thank you Prof.

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