23 October, 2017

VC Election In Jaffna: Will The North’s Wilted Intellectual Life Bloom Once More?

Colombo Telegraph reliably learns of moves to suppress the application of Prof. Sam Thiagalingam, the sole external candidate for the post of Vice Chancellor at the University of Jaffna. Prof. Thiagalingam, whose application was posted in the US on 27th December and received on 17th January, a day after the deadline, is an eminent scholar in Biomedical Sciences. An alumnus of the University of Jaffna, he is currently teaching in the School of Medicine in Boston University, USA. Our inquiries reveal that the present administration of the University of Jaffna and one or more internal members of the University Council, who are also running for the post of Vice Chancellor, were behind moves to scuttle his application.

Prof. Sam Thiagalingam

In separate letters sent to the Vice Chancellor and officers of the University and members of the Council, the University of Jaffna Teachers’ Association (UJTA) and Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) note that there were strong indications that Prof. Thiagalingam’s application could be rejected on spurious reasons as the fortuitous postal delay. The two university teachers’ associations have also requested the Council to declare itself on Prof. Thiagalingam’s application without prolonging the uncertainty.

The two unions point out that the appointment of a vice chancellor is so important that the University appointed a Search Committee of senior academics to caste its net worldwide to find candidates with high academic attainment for the position. Academics have also pointed to the Search Committee as part of the web of malfeasance, given that its search failed to turn up any distinguished candidate and, besides, it was chaired by a dean whose husband is an internal candidate for the position. It was, the teachers’ unions point out, simply ‘our good fortune’ that Prof. Thiagalingam came to know of this need. Further, the Council, when it met on 28th January, was misled from the chair by legal advice, reportedly solicited by phone ex parte, that Prof. Thiagalingam’s application should be rejected on account of the delay in its receipt. Further uncertainty over Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy will be seen by the larger community as a conspiracy to withhold the quality it expects from the Institution.

The UJTA’s letter ends with an appeal to the Council to consider the application of Prof. Thiagalingam so that that University community can assure the people of the North repeatedly deprived of the services of persons of high moral and intellectual standing that the future of higher education in the region is in safer and better hands.

In the 1990s, the University became in effect a fiefdom wedged between the conflicting demands of parties to the war. Academics learnt to live in their own small world, scarred by its stifling internal power politics. This transmuted into a form of xenophobia and systematic exclusion of talent from outside who would challenge atrophied local norms. The war ended and with it one form of patronage. But the leaders of the fiefdom were inventive enough to secure new patrons in the EPDP and, with it, the existing hierarchy with a new populist line advancing a huge dose of religion. The concomitant attack on secularism results in unwritten rules for exclusion in hiring of academics. Both the authorities in Colombo and the Tamils’ elected leaders acted as though they were bent on keeping the moribund norms intact, regardless of their cost to quality.

As Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) indicates, the norms were seen in the 2014 VC election, where internal power brokers backing a second term for the Vice Chancellor, worked intimately with political bosses in the EPDP who exercised the whip, and with near total success determined how the three votes of each council member were cast. The current VC got 96 percent approval instead of the expected 100. The Dean of Arts who was suspected to have broken ranks was given a torrid time.

Four of the five deans contesting now were patronized by the outgoing VC and three of them were active power brokers in fixing the 2014 election. This time they have to undercut one another, but are united with the VC’s backing in keeping the strong outside candidate out. Given their past record, they would stoop however low, the teachers say, to keep Prof. Thiagalingam out. The Vice Chancellor had supported them, sowing confusion with pretended legal advice.

JUSTA’s letter to the Council is significant given its struggle with the University administration since 2014 against rank favoritism and abuse in recruitment that has lowered standards. It demanded fair and transparent processes and practices in the recruitment of academic and non-academic staff to the University of Jaffna. JUSTA investigated a number of detailed cases of alleged discrimination against well-qualified candidates who applied for academic positions at the University of Jaffna and submitted its findings to the public via the media and the relevant authorities including the University Grants Commission and elected regional representatives, and the new Council members who were appointed following the regime change in 2015.

JUSTA notes that although there was a change of regime in the country, there was none in the University. It also states that the old regime by showering its patronage, and punishing those who did not toe its line, was successfully reasserting itself and that the unions and academic staff were cowed by the vindictiveness of this disposition.

Both unions in their advocacy have given vent to protest that was long stifled. Several academics who shun power games allege that some of the deans well placed in the contest have connived at shaping the corrupt system and have acted with considerable impunity. They complain of deans who keep accomplished senior applicants out, have doctored marks to keep down promising students and have used junior staff for domestic and menial labour at their homes.

Highlighting the importance of finding early remedies to the deterioration the University has been facing over the past several years, JUSTA’s letter ends with the remark “[t]hree years more of the present would find us in an irremediable situation”. With the election for the University’s new Vice Chancellor imminent, all eyes are now on the University Council and how its members are going to act on Prof. Sam Thiagalingam’s application.

To read the letters of UJTA and JUSTA click: UJTA’s letter to the Vice Chancellor and Members of the Council and  JUSTA’s letter to the Chairperson and the Members of the Council

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Latest comments

  • 4
    13

    Why it is not wrong when some one is trying to land employment by writing to news blog. I think, this candidate should be disqualified because he tried to get the help of news blogs.

    • 16
      2

      Jim softy, Don’t post rubbish here. How do you know Prof. Sam Thiagalingam got CT’s help? The letters posted here were not even addressed to him. Can’t a news website conduct their inquiries and expose the corruption at public institutes in Sri Lanka?

      • 7
        3

        Priyan

        EPDP In Jaffna UNI???

        The same UNI last November 2016 had Maha Veera Pirahaparan posters and commemorated Maha Veera Pirahaparan day, and EPDP is in control

        What bloody rubbish. Ask the PONGU Tamil of telegraph who wrote this article why they avoided the mention of LTTE and it’s current influence.. Waring party my foot

        • 5
          0

          Saman,

          JVP, FSP politics is popular among students at Southern universities. Does that mean JVP has control over the administrative affairs of those universities? How can LTTE be responsible corruption that happened in 2014 and 2016 just because students lit memorial lamps? LTTE politics in administration happened in 1990s and later in 2000s. not now.

          The report does not say EPDP is in control now. EPDP was in control in the past till Mahinda was President. Read the report carefully.

          Let’s see how TNA is going to approach the problems in the University because TNA seems to be quite close to the present government.

      • 3
        1

        Jimmy is angry person. His dangling bits are Softy in his pants. His mother mother is a Dalit and father a saree wearing trannny monk. Uneducated , have no sense of logic and a hypocrite. So he is just provoking people.

  • 8
    3

    The EPDP? Hello the Jaffna University was and is the spiritual, political, and intellectual temple of the Notorious LTTE, where students informed on their lectures to the Very LTTE who later shot them.

    But Thanks Colombo Telegraph, who cant even Bring to Use the words LTTE in this or any article.

    • 8
      2

      Saman
      Makes no difference wether it is LTTE or EPDP,..
      Both are two sides of the same coin when it comes to university education in the Jaffna University.
      All students there suffer the effects of mediocrity irrespective of their race or religion .
      The current VC is a good example.

  • 14
    2

    Did the authors get Prof.Thiagalingam’s OK to publish something like this?
    I am asking only because such public information on a person’s job search might cause embarrassment with his current employer.

    That said, he is known to many Tamil American professionals on the East Coast of the US from the time he did his PhD at the highly ranked Johns Hopkins university; he is someone who has had cordial relationships with the community, and it would be a travesty for the Univ. of Jaffna to keep him out for any flimsy reason.

    On matters like this, it is the ‘post-marked’ date of an application that should count, not the date of receipt.

    • 6
      0

      Please remember that after many years of abusive practices, where favouritism, antipathy to outspokenness, caste and religion have factored into recruitment to university positions, the place badly needs a new broom.

      For example in engineering, a young departmental head being corrupted by the authorities demanding that he sign atrocious claims to reject a highly qualified applicant in the selection committee, and being rewarded with a promotion for which he was not entitled, is just one of the things that are normal in the University. What would be the standing of the university in a few years, given that engineering faculties in this country have been fairly clean? If engineering could be corrupted to this extent, imagine what could happen to other disciplines, particularly those with weak traditions?

      There is already a strong move to stop Thiyagalingam. As the report and letters indicate the VC has already advised the Council that his application is invalid, apparently on legal advice received by phone to the question, what do I do with a late application? The influence she wields after six years of having her way should not be underestimated. The delay means that Thiyagalingam is getting a late start in introducing himself to the community and informing them what he could contribute, which alone could constrain the council. Those who look for change must mobilize all the publicity they could command.

      • 3
        0

        Thank you, Mr. Arnold.
        We in the expatriate community can help
        but it is the local people who can take
        more concrete action.

        If the University council fails to show accountability, then parliamentarians need to get involved in a more serious way.

        In this instance, since Thiagalingam is a graduate of Jaffna University, his teachers there, active or retired,should get involved in speaking up for him.

        If you have any specific suggestions on
        what expatriates can do, I will tell the community about it and see what we can do.

        • 2
          0

          Agnos,

          It will be good if the expatriate contacts the council members and inform them about why Prof. Thiagalingam’s application should be accepted and why he is a good choice for the post of VC. You may do it for two reasons:
          1. As people who know Prof. Thiagalingam well and have interacted with him, it will be good. Because Council members or the University community in Jaffna may not know much about Prof. Thiagalingam’s abilities. You may also contact the lecturers at the University and tell them why he is a good choice. People are campaigning for one candidate or other. So there is nothing illegal about the expatriate community contributing to the campaign

          2. As members of the expatriate community, you have a say, albeit a limited one, in the affairs of what happens in Sri Lanka. Without imposing your views on the people in Jaffna, you can present your ideas as suggestions.

          These are the council members:
          Prof. Sivasegaram, Prof. Tharmaratnam, Prof. Sittampalam, Prof. Hasbullah, Dr. Jeyakumar, Dr. Luxman, Mr. Mano Segaram, Ms. Shantha Abhimannasingam, Mr. Aru Thirumurugan, Mr. P.Vigneswaran, Mr. Rangarajan, Prof (Mrs) Ramesh, Dr Suthagar(Arts Dean), Dr Atputharajah (Engineering Dean), Dr. Deva Nesan Nesiah

        • 1
          0

          Agnos,

          “If you have any specific suggestions on what expatriates can do, I will tell the community about it and see what we can do.”

          This is Jaffna and I don’t know how much attention the council will pay to any opinions even if they are reasonable and based on facts.

          Unfortunately the president may receive a list of three “bad apples” to choose from.

          My suggestion is to dig up hard facts on the alleged corruption and other bad behaviour of some of the candidates. A lot has been mentioned here in the comments. Three candidates appear to be badly stained.

          There is not very much time left.

          It is important to influence the council and the president.

          • 0
            0

            Thanks Lone Wolf and Asokan for your suggestions. I sense a lack of interest even among alumni of Jaffna University on such things, but I am trying to do what I can to make people interested.

      • 1
        0

        Thomas Arnold,

        “Please remember that after many years of abusive practices, where favouritism, antipathy to outspokenness, caste and religion have factored into recruitment to university positions, the place badly needs a new broom.”

        Agreed.

  • 4
    6

    Has this dude got a grudge against Doughie ?.

    EPDP is the only Tamil outfit which stood up to Maha Veera Pirahaparan,

    Although Doughie escaped, several hundred if not thousands lost their lives because of Doughie.

    Now the strong man in Jaffana is the only intellectual and learned Tamil whom Pirahaparan spared in addition to Sambandan and Abraham.

    The total control of Jaffna is among them.

    So how can the postal department prevent an American Professor’s application?.

    Wouldn’t the US Embassy hand deliver it, if it is so important?.

    We know the CM there has gone fully Militant.

    He even declared that the alleged plot to kill Abraham is a cocked up story by the Yahapaana IGP’s UNP Police.

    CM’s address at the last Thamiz meeting was a gem.

    CM wouldn’t settle for anything less than his Hero Pirahaparan demanded.

    My be the problem is this Professor’s Alignment.

    • 0
      0

      You forgot to mention ‘Velala Sampathan’

  • 13
    3

    I think it is a great idea to have a wide slate of candidates. It is also good to include Prof. Thiagalingam who posted his application well in time “to be received” by the deadline as required by the advertisement, but it was not received because of airport disruptions and the holidays.

    Including him shows the university to be serious about choice.

    However, even if he is included, some will object on legalistic grounds. If there is a court case, it could go either way.

    The clean way to do it is to readvertise with a short deadline saying those who applied need not reapply. It might mean a delay of a month perhaps. But if there is an injunction, the delay can be much longer.

    If others apply newly, so what? The wider the choice the better for the university.

    • 10
      0

      A very practical and fair suggestion.

    • 5
      0

      But is there really a choice? Going through the affair one could pick up several conflicts of interest and the VC instead of playing the impartial umpire is leaning heavily towards rejection of Thiagalingam’s candidacy. A good vice chancellor would have encouraged academic freedom and worked comfortably with deans who are independent. Instead, she leaned heavily to have her catchers elected as deans. This is why independent councillors are afraid to put anything to the vote as the VC has a captive block vote of deans who have grown fat on her patronage. We have a wife and dean who chaired the search committee, which failed to find any eminent academic suitable for VC, but whose husband is a candidate. The husband is dean of graduate studies, one of the VC’s gifts to the faithful. The deanship of the new applied science faculty was also the VC’s gift to one who was tipped to lose in the election for dean of science. The faculty are now shivering that he might become VC as he is also a candidate. The only independent deans now are perhaps the deans of science and arts, the former is a contestant. This scenario explains why independent councillors are frustrated and fear being insulted by the VC if they speak their mind as becomes their integrity. This is why there is no hope for the university unless it gets a fair and determined scholar as VC.

  • 2
    3

    I think, who ever what ever says, University and the selection board have the final say.

    • 8
      0

      Jim, All those VC posts are reserved for jokers who are stooges, political or otherwise. Who are council members? Another set of political henchmen. They will vote for the applicant named by their political masters. Not for the best qualified person. This is the case for all Universities in Sri Lanka. This is true under any regime. Tell me any VC who is qualified and competent to run a University. Peradeniya, Sabaragamuwa, Rajarata, etc. etc. etc. That’s why you see turmoil in our universities. What is the end result? Eradication of free education and state universities and introduction of private universities. Most of our private universities (SLIIT, NSMB, APIIT etc.) have more qualified leaders/Vice Chancellors. If this trend of political involvement continues, our state universities will hit the rock bottom!

    • 2
      0

      jim shitty, ok we will grant you the final say.

  • 0
    0

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  • 9
    0

    “Search Committee […] was chaired by a dean whose husband is an internal candidate for the position.”

    This, if true, is utterly disgusting. Name them please and shame them.

    • 2
      2

      Luxman
      Good one.
      I THINK THAT YOU SHARE MY SENSE OF HUMOR.

      • 6
        0

        I usually do (share your sense of humour), but on this occasion it is no joke.

        Someone asked to chair a search committee should decline if their spouse is a candidate. They should declare conflict of interest and withdraw from that role.

        If Jaffnese cannot demonstrate that level of basic decency, then Nallur Kanthan is going to have a tough time helping our people — not that there is any evidence of him ever trying.

    • 6
      0

      Naming and shaming them is a must.

      Contesting Dean: Mikunthan, Dean of Agriculture.

      Prof. Mrs. Mikunthan, Dean of Graduate Studies chairs the Search Committee responsible for encouraging strong candidates to apply. Strangely her committee could not find anyone. She is scared of Thiagalingam. Working hard to disqualify him by date.

      Sam Abayaratne (February 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm) is right. The private sector is getting the best people. What it means is that the best students who go to the state universities will get a raw deal. They will not have good teachers. Worse, they will become like their teachers — under accomplished and surviving by keeping out better persons. Even more worse — they will become like their teachers, unable to say no when asked to do wrong.

      According to a Council complaint suppressed by the VC, Mrs. Mikunthan recently got promoted to professor using papers you publish by paying the journal which exists only to make money. At the agriculture faculty (where Mr. and Mrs. Mikunthan are professors), the art of using these journals is sophisticated. Faculty students are expected to pay Rs. 30,000 each and publish their final year projects. So the supervisors get these papers paying nothing.

      Prof. Velnamby is another contestant who climbed to professor by paying to publish his papers. The joke is that management faculty is getting Guinness record because one member has published 24 papers in a year.

      All this shows how important it is to bring about change. This government is likely to appoint whoever gets the highest vote. Make sure it is Thiagalingam.

      It is our last chance — reverse course now or forget about change forever.

      • 1
        0

        Rajan Sivarajan,

        “According to a Council complaint suppressed by the VC, Mrs. Mikunthan recently got promoted to professor using papers you publish by paying the journal which exists only to make money.”

        Suppressed without any investigation? RTI request ASAP.

        Can Mrs Mikunthan vote in the VC elections despite the husband being a candidate?

        “At the agriculture faculty (where Mr. and Mrs. Mikunthan are professors), the art of using these journals is sophisticated. Faculty students are expected to pay Rs. 30,000 each and publish their final year projects.”

        Any investigations? I have read this claim before.

        “Prof. Velnamby is another contestant who climbed to professor by paying to publish his papers.”

        I am sorry to ask a stupid question. Who is supposed to control what these academics do? If the VC doesn’t act should the UGC act?

      • 0
        0

        “Prof. Mrs. Mikunthan, Dean of Graduate Studies chairs the Search Committee responsible for encouraging strong candidates to apply.”

        Since you seem to be so sure of your facts, may I also know the list of members of the said committee and its EXACT ROLE in making the list of eligible applicants?

  • 1
    1

    Please advice us a best person among the candidates. It might be help to council members to decide before caste their votes.

    Our priority : 1. Dean/Technology 2. Dean/Medicine 3. Dean/Science
    4. Dean/Graduate 5. Dean/ Management

    • 8
      0

      1.Dean/Technology: Prof. Srisatkunarajah – Academically sound – eloquent – A Hindu chauvinist. Wanted the University to declare the entrance facing the Hindu temple inside the University as University’s main entrance. He also asks junior staff in his department to attend Bajans of Gurumaaraatchi a Hindu saint. He attempted to change marks obtained by a young undergraduate. If not for Prof. Tharmaratnam’s intervention the student would have got affected badly. He did a similar thing to another student in 1990s. Srisatkunarajah was not bold enough to say last year that both Tamil cultural music and Kandyan Dance should be made part of welcome procession. He sided with Tamil students and eventually there was an ethnic clash at University.

      2.Dean/Medicine: Dr. Raviraj – Academically he may be sound. He worked hard to sabotage Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole’s appointment as VC in 2011 and 2014. It was rumored that he feared Jeevan Hoole would bring medical scholars from abroad to teach in Medical faculty & Jaffna Teaching Hospital where Dr. Raviraj wields a lot of power. He was instrumental in arranging meetings between Prof. Vasanthy Arasaratnam and EPDP’s Douglas Devananda. Some even said Prof. Arasaratnam had no interest in running for VC post but Raviraj persuaded her so that Hoole would be blocked.

      3.Dean/Science: Prof. Vigneswaran – Academically sound. A less talkative man but may have hidden administrative talents. The most honest of all the internal candidates. Used to be the Chair of the Teachers’ Union. He would not have involved in any corruption or discrimination. The best choice if you consider all internal candidates.

      4.Dean/Graduate: Prof. Mikunthan and Dean/Management: Prof. Velnampi – The less said about them the better. They can change sides in politics. Both are known for their corruption. Both were close to EPDP and are close to current VC.

      • 2
        0

        Trust,

        “Prof. Srisatkunarajah – Academically sound – eloquent – A Hindu chauvinist. Wanted the University to declare the entrance facing the Hindu temple inside the University as University’s main entrance. He also asks junior staff in his department to attend Bajans of Gurumaaraatchi a Hindu saint.”

        Is this not the man who has built and operates a Hindu temple without any permits?

        “He attempted to change marks obtained by a young undergraduate.”

        Why? Any source for this claim?

        “He did a similar thing to another student in 1990s.”
        Why? Any source?

        “Srisatkunarajah was not bold enough to say last year that both Tamil cultural music and Kandyan Dance should be made part of welcome procession. He sided with Tamil students and eventually there was an ethnic clash at University.”

        Not very interested in reconciliation? Against a multi-ethnic and multi-religious university in Jaffna?

        I have heard that Srisatkunarajah used to drink as a young man and possibly continues abusing alcohol.

        • 3
          0

          Yes – I have also heard about his unauthorized Hindu temple. Everyone knows what he did to these two students. Speak to young lecturers in the Science Faculty – they will tell you about his attempts to doctor marks.

          Given his religious biases in the public institution of university, we can definitely say he is not for a multi-religious university. He will Hinduism to be given the foremost place at Jaffna University.

          But Srisatkunarajah is also quite cunning. Now he would tell Tamil nationalists at the University that he is with them. But once he comes to power he would dump them and side with the state. Untrustworthy is the word.

          Not sure about alcoholism. And it does not matter, I think, unless it interferes in his work.

        • 4
          0

          Prof. Srisatkunarajah used to drink excessively, not any more.

          He did build a Hindu temple on government land next to Hindu Ladies and is seen doing poosai pretending to be a Brahmin. It is well known that the RDA was trying to find him to ask him to demolish but he hid from the RDA till the temple was fully finished and the RDA thought demolishment would lead to communal clash.

          Math folks always talk about his undermarking a person who had better grades than Prof. Satku, Prof. tharmaratnam is said to have gone through the scripts and restored the marks. One Ramaruban, a bright student, refused to do maths saying Satku will cut him. Prof. Tharmaratnam persuaded him promising to look out for him.

          I am sure prof. T. will read this. I hope he will confirm or deny.

          Satku forcing people to attend his Satsangs every week and watch his CDs. His staffs have no religious freedom.

          • 1
            0

            Math Special and many others,

            This Satku guy appears to follow a path of personal Sanskritization thru his career, marriage to a higher caste woman, founding of a temple and the public image he now presents. Whether his Sanskritization is intentional and how much people believe of it is another matter. The underlying reason behind his personal development might be an inferiority complex.

            I don’t believe his vegetarianism nor that he has stopped abusing alcohol but these are irrelevant compared to the claims of his behaviour toward the staff and the students.

            The alleged building of a temple on land that does not belong to him and without authorization is another sign of who he is. Jaffna District Secretariat has a list of registered temples. I seem to remember that in order to be registered a temple has to show a deed for the land and other documentation. Has the temple been registered?

      • 3
        2

        Prof. Raviraj is not suitable for VC Jaffna. He is a product of St. John’s College, Jaffna. He is the President of the St. John’s College OBA. The invitation to old boys said that he was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Annual Dinner.

        Raviraj looks down on Jaffna. He lives in Jaffna but sent his son to St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia.

        All the Hoole Boys are products of St. John’s College. C. R. A Hoole was a very stylish bowler then with his long arms and fast legs. Despite being a fellow Johnian, I am shocked to learn from your comment that Raviraj workd to block a fellow Johnian for the post of VC. Dirty job, unworthy of the President of the OBA.

        Raviraj must resign from the Johnian OBA immediately. He is not a loyal guy.

    • 2
      0

      Internal candidates ranking:

      1. Prof. Vigneswaran (Dean/Science)
      2. Dr. Raviraj (Dean/Medicine)
      3. Prof. Srisatkunarajah (Dean/Technology)
      4 & 5. Prof. Mikunthan (Dean/Graduate Studies) and Prof. Velnampi (Dean/Management) – not sure which one is better or worse.

      • 2
        0

        I am an alumni of the Faculty of Science, University of Jaffna. During our undergraduate period most of the students were scared of Prof .Srisatkunarajah. He used the exam results as a tool to threat the students (famously known as the ‘aruthal’) At the same time, exam questions were used to be known to his favorite students before the exams.
        He likes to project himself as the best mathematician in Jaffna, and hates talented students. He has tried his best to alter the exam marks of the promising Maths special students. If he becomes the VC of Jaffna only God can save the Jaffna University.

  • 0
    3

    Either Dean/Technology or Dean/Medicine is best for the University.

    • 5
      0

      Dean/Technology is the one who has doctored marks to keep down promising Maths students and has used junior staff for domestic and menial labour at his home.

  • 4
    0

    The professor’s Bio Data is impressive.

    http://www.bumc.bu.edu/genetics/genetics-people/faculty/thia-2/

    He is a research scholar on cancer, and his expertise will benefit the nation.

  • 6
    0

    Dear Council Members,

    The current Vice Chancellor is planning to get a lawyer who is also a council member to say that law is against Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy as his application was received late. This may happen at the next council meeting. It is incumbent on the other council members to challenge this move to block Prof. Thiagalingam’s application on purely legal grounds.

    Leftist and justice-minded members of the council like Prof. Sivasegaram, Prof. Tharmaratnam, Prof. Hasbullah, Dr. Jeyakumar, Dr. Devan Nesan Nesiah, Dr. Luxman and Prof. Sittampalam should be at the forefront of this struggle and make sure Prof. Thiagalingam’s application is accepted. Many of these members have written articles and books which directly or indirectly discuss how our legal system supports the exploitation of working class people and oppression of ethnic and religious minorities and weaker nations. I don’t need to tell you about the limitations of law.

    Council members should not allow the current VC to influence the council on this matter. It is a conflict of interests. A lot of irregularities happened during the current VC’s time (Just search this website and you will find tons of reports and articles about the corruption at Jaffna University for the past 6 years). She will definitely not want an external candidate becoming the next VC as he might be supportive to the moves to investigate the corruption that happened during her tenure.

    The council members should ask the current Vice Chancellor and other deans who have applied for VC post to stand outside the meeting venue till the rest of the council members make a decision on Prof. Thiagalingam’s application.

    Dear council members, an important responsibility has been given to you by the tax paying people of this country and war-affected population. Please don’t let them down.

    • 2
      0

      Asokan,

      “Leftist and justice-minded members of the council like Prof. Sivasegaram, Prof. Tharmaratnam, Prof. Hasbullah, Dr. Jeyakumar, Dr. Devan Nesan Nesiah, Dr. Luxman and Prof. Sittampalam should be at the forefront of this struggle and make sure Prof. Thiagalingam’s application is accepted.”

      I have serious doubts about Dr Luxman and Dr Sittampalam. Both are involved in the dirty politics of TPC and associates of the wannabee MPs.

      Why does a good professional like Dr Luxman join an outfit like the TPC?

      Dr Sittampalam (another wannabee MP himself!) was accused of having threatened students during the last election campaign. I believe that the threats were filmed by the victims. Is this alleged behaviour “justice-minded” and suitable for a retired professor? What ever happened to the police investigation?

  • 0
    0

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  • 6
    2

    Search Committee Chairman was Prof. D. Mikunthan and her husband Prof.G. Mikunthan is a VC candidate

    • 10
      0

      They should be utterly ashamed of their behaviour.

      • 1
        1

        Luxman
        Out of respect for your decency,
        are you sure of the facts?

        Why is information not forthcoming on the composition of the alleged committee headed by an interested party?

    • 3
      0

      Make Jaffna great again!

    • 0
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      Search Committee Chairman was Prof. D. Mikunthan and her husband Prof.G. Mikunthan is a VC candidate

      So, if the Search committee is the husband and the if the candidate is the wife, any one else won’t be qualified for that post.

      Besides, how come only one person for the search commiittee>?

      I thought it is the wrong caste applied. So, this technical ploint came forward.

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        JS
        If you see what I see, you may have spotted something funny.
        The story about wife processing application including husband’s lacks credibility.
        One can only guess who is up to mischief, but it is wrong to name anyone without concrete evidence.

        A lot of dirty linen has been washed by hands that are not very clean.

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    ‘Mai Porul Kanpathu Arivu’ – (Finding the Truth is the Wisdom), is the motto of the University of Jaffna. The creators deserve a great tribute for finding so succinct and compelling futuristic statement which amply reflects the intellectual and genuine intents of this University. Hence all of us directly or indirectly involved with this University should be able to comprehend the full meaning, articulate it, demonstrate it in actions and live by its spirit.

    So it is expected that the Council Members should exercise the mandate bestowed upon them wisely, taking much broader & holistic approach and set an example for the rest of the University Councils by considering the moral principles so that the repeatedly failed general public of the Northern Region is well assured the future higher education in better hands.

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      Arulmoli,

      Present day Council members are the worst lot. This is true for any university. They are all political appointees. They are supposed to be delivering the goods for the University. But they are serving their political masters. Otherwise they will not be appointed next time. Minister will always appoint people who will do whatever the minister says. Specially those retired people. They have no power and no money. Therefore they want some bloody position. They even take money from VC candidates for voting. This happened in a reputed university.

  • 0
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    What ever said if the application was received after the closing date, then obviously that candidate should be disqualified. That is simple.

    • 4
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      Not so simple. For one thing, given the unpredictability of the postal services,
      it is the post mark date that an applicant can control. So it is the duty of institutions to consider all applications post marked sufficiently early enough to meet the deadline.

      Moreover, search committees are supposed to reach out to sufficiently distinguished candidates when it is a key position even if some arbitrary deadline is violated. This might necessitate readvertising. If so, redo it.

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      The applicant cannot be blamed if his /her application was delayed in post. The date of forwarding the application should be considered. In this case the application originated from the USA.

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    Dear VC Jaffna University, JUSTA, UJTA and all forum participants,
    It is very disheartening for us readers to see Admin in higher education systems also has fallen inline with the last 70 years of disregarding the criteria for appointments in all Administration. The fact that overseas applications getting rejected by the date received and not by the date mailed is a clear indication for disregarding important criteria for the appointment. It is usual in Sri Lanka for Institutions in Jaffna to cry foul over political appointments due to discrimination. This will be a disappointing and far fetched decision to overlook a well deserved appointment before evaluation and interview. Please stop spoiling your dignity too.

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    Srisatkunarajah tried to block the publication of a commemoration volume for Thangavadivel Master, a Leftist activist from Jaffna because the volume had some critical article about caste discrimination in Jaffna society.

    No casteist should be at the helm of the University of Jaffna. Enough of casteism.

    The previous VC was accused of sexual abuse. So no casteist or sexist or religious and racial bigots or corrupt administrators.

    The council and government should act wisely this time.

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      Neerajah,

      “No casteist should be at the helm of the University of Jaffna. Enough of casteism.”

      I agree. Srisatkunarajah is not a Vellalah. Is that positive oŕ negative?

      “So no casteist or sexist or religious and racial bigots or corrupt administrators.”

      Who is left?

      “The council and government should act wisely this time.”

      The Council cannot be trusted but luckily the President chooses.

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    If Professor Sam Thiagalingam is a qualified candidate based on the required job criteria he should be in the applicant pool disregarding his late application. Jaffna University needs good academics with experience.
    However, similar to President Trump, SL should subject him to extreme vetting for any past LTTE terror supporting activity first.
    I don’t know why some Tamils are trying to kick him out. Has it anything to do with his cast?

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    Prof Velnambi (dean management) an expert in political working under EPDP agenda. He deserved all the critics. There is no governance and ethics in the management faculty. The story and the procedures followed behind his professorship is utterly shame. He is currently supervising 26 MPhils and PhDs across many unknown disciplines under the graduate faculty (most of them are faculty staffs) without knowing anything about the topic. Council members take a serious look into the management faculty.

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    Either Dean/Technology or Dean/Science is a best choice among the candidates. Dean/Graduate Studies and Dean/Management is a most horrible choice. Both of them bought their higher degrees from Tamil Nadu and lack even the tiniest amount of intellectual vigour. There are too many complaints on management dean about corruption, malpractices in the faculty and university. This is a recipe for disaster.

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    Yes, I agree with you Neerajah, it should be a secular place.
    Education was our strength, to rebuild the society, reorganizing, improving should start from Educational Institutions. We keep blaming the government, without checking the damages we are causing to our society internally.

    Even now it is not too late, let us all wake up, join hands and work together.

    WE APPEAL TO ALL DEANS who are contesting, to join hands to rebuild the place, not with buildings, but with Knowledge and better standards.

    Yes we honor you for being here and you will be honoured more if you work together to make a fair judgment on this case. That’s what average people feel, looking at the case.
    Please cooperate with other councilors and say that you would like to accept Prof . Thialingam’s candidacy. Let us set an example to other universities. Please show your willingness, even to step down and you will find, eventually you will be able to work independently and have educational achievements, to you and to your faculty. Besides, you still have the age and ability, why not wait for another 3 years.
    Let us all join hands to bring about a change, Let the society know that you academics who are contesting are far minded to accept his candidacy.

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    I am not sure of the current process, but if my memory is right, it used to work this way: the university council was supposed to send 2–3 names to the President and he/she would choose the VC from that list, with advice from the UGC chairman.

    If that is still the case, an outgoing VC should have no interference in this process, and the search committee should answer to the council. So if the search committee fails to forward a qualified candidate to the council and the info about that candidate is submitted to the council, the latter can demand that the search committee reconsider or do a new search.

    If even the council fails to do its duty, TNA parliamentarians can approach the president to do the right thing. If the process has changed, others with knowledge of the process should comment here.

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      “an outgoing VC should have no interference in this process, and the search committee should answer to the council”

      Absolutely.

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      Agnos
      I think that you have slightly misunderstood the election procedure.
      I know this for sure: The Council elects from among eligible candidates three people. The names are then sent to the UGC indicating order of preference.
      But the ultimate choice is with the President (earlier Minister of Higher Education).

      You may be aware of persons not leading the list who were appointed. It happened in Peradeniya too at least once.
      I hear that now the policy is to consider the top vote winner, which if true is good.
      But life is full of surprises.

      My own thought would be for the Council to identify three in order of preference, and sends only the first name for the Minister or President to accept or reject (giving reasons) and then for the Council to appeal; and failing that send the second name, and then the third Name if necessary.

      If all three names fail to please the powers that be— do not ask me in this island of intrigue.

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        Dr. Sivasekaram,

        OK, thanks for explaining the slight differences in the process.

        But why is the current VC part of the process of selecting a new VC? The search committee should be independent of VC, and in deciding on this matter,the outgoing VC may have to sit out of the council meeting. I don’t know what the rules in SL say, but that would be the ethical thing to do.

        The council and the search committee have the implicit duty of casting their net far and wide to find the best possible candidate, encouraging qualified overseas candidates to apply, so and any legalistic argument advanced on the basis of slight delay in receipt of the application, when it was post-marked early enough, would be a dereliction of that duty.

        The council should also keep in mind that very, very few accomplished overseas academics are willing to serve in Jaffna, given the intellectual and cultural impoverishment caused by the war, the lack of prestige or high enough salary, the need to deal with the military as well as shady and morally challenged politicians in the country, etc. So when someone sufficiently well-qualified is willing to come, the university should be reviewing his application enthusiastically and honestly.

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          Agnos
          I am sorry to say that Sivasegaram does not make the rules.
          To some he may seem stupid to abide by rules. But he does.

          But what do you say about a plea for considering a late application turning into a free-for-all attack on all other but one-and-a-half candidates?

          Now since all seriousness is gone, I think what goes on is amusement— as usual, not always in the best of taste.

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    FOCUS GROUP ON SELECTING A VC

    Jaffna University, it is obvious to all, needs knowledge about what a University should be like. Jaffna has been closed from the outside world for long. Bad admin and political powers have chased away the best minds from among us. We cannot run on the current thinking and corruption in the modern world. It is a cruel joke perpetrated by Rajapakse and Devananada by appointing VC/staff/workers to grab power for themselves even after they are gone.

    The result-Students were denied a good educational environment and opportunities and the staff an intellectual place for growth. The god in the Jaffna University temple has become a joke because in the name of the god they carry on all this cheating and playing foul.

    All the council members, staff and students should be vigilant and be capacitated towards making this vital decision. A good focus group session on Mission/Vision of/for Jaffna University and about the duties and expectations from a VC/VC candidate should be held for the Council members, staff and students. JUSTA and FUTA could organize that bringing sound scholars from outside and inside.

    In Toronto Tamil Changam the whole Tamil and the broader University community participated in hosting its events. Many would help in Jaffna too to provide tea for such focus groups and education related activities.
    Jaffna’s future is at stake.

    Best Wishes

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    Dr Thiagalingham, CT and others,

    “Colombo Telegraph reliably learns of moves to suppress the application of Prof. Sam Thiagalingam, the sole external candidate for the post of Vice Chancellor at the University of Jaffna. Prof. Thiagalingam, whose application was posted in the US on 27th December and received on 17th January, a day after the deadline”

    Please try to find out when the letter arrived. My understanding is that registered letters can be traced all the way to Jaffna. There should be a chain of arrived/departed with dates and signatures.

    Did the letter really arrive too late or “missing in action” at Jaffna University?

    I tried to trace some registered letters more than 10 years ago and still have no reply.

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    A VC does the following:
    1) Chairs the Council. For a university to function smoothly, he must practice democracy and be law abiding. (When not so, you have what is happening now in Jaffna. The VC must understand “this is how we have always done things” is not an excuse to continue to do wrong things.)
    2) Plays a major role in the appointment of heads. Unless independent people are appointed, we have yes men who will say yes to anything, even illegal things.
    3) It is the Heads who are eligible for election as Deans, the only truly independent people who are elected by the Faculty. But when Heads are obedient people willing to sign anything the VC puts to them, and they become Deans, the Council malfunctions.
    4) The VC chairs the Senate, the authority on academic matters. So the VC must understand modern developments in education and be a true scholar.
    5) The VC chairs Selection Committees. New appointments are important for standards. The safeguard is the Deans and Heads and council nominees on the committee. But the Heads and Deans are now stooges who will sign anything from the VC. The External council members are supposed to be independent but the UGC made the last two vacancy appointments on the request of the VC. The VC must be able to overcome this mafia.
    6) The VC is the chief financial officer. Must supervise the Bursar and understand finances enough to prevent fraud.

    Above all, the VC is a leader. Will the new VC fit these roles? Will he inspire others? Or will he go after people for favors and in the process lose his ability to speak for the university? A wrong-doing VC who relies on the Minister and UGC to save him, will undermine the university further.

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      Dr Jeevan Hoole,

      Thank you for the list of the duties of a VC. After reading it I wonder if any of the candidates is competent enough for the job.

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      Ratnajeevan,

      Read back in your ultimate para:”Will he inspire others? Or will he go after people for favors and in the process lose his ability to speak for the university? “

      See anything blatantly sexist here, not keeping up with the times? Aren’t you confirming the identity as a dinosaur here? Any recollection of the “Uduvil Girls” speech as you wrote this comment? Wasn’t that “Uduvil” speech just public sanitization after the Katubadda fiasco, and thus just plain empty rhetoric?!

      Do you actually think before you write?

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    I sincerely hope that the Council members are following the discussions that are happening here.

    Prof. Srisatkunarajah has promised an academic job to the son of Prof. Thevarajah, former Dean of Science, if the Prof. Thevarajah campaigns for him in the VC election.

    Srisatkunarajah has also assured another lecturer’s wife will also get a job in return to the services rendered to him during the campaign.

    Srisatkunarajah may sound like a smart administrator. But he is corrupt. Please don’t get swayed by his rhetoric and language skills. He is also divisive.

  • 4
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    Asokan, you are right about the lawyer, but you don’t seem to realise the extent to which the opportunity for change has been blocked. In 2015 when the new government dismissed the old external councillors and appointed new members, it suggested that with 14 new external members and 13 internal members including deans and senate representatives, change was possible. Of the external members, perhaps half a dozen were committed to change, although fewer actually spoke out. One of the new members, a former professor from another university, soon showed himself to be the VC’s alsation dog. In the Council you don’t achieve anything by being soft spoken and rational. You have to blare like a trumpet so that your opponent’s head splits from agony. It was useless trying to be reasonable. One of the first casualties was the JUSTA report on abuses in recruitment. It was consigned to a Complaints Committe appointed by the VC, in which the alsation dog was the key player, with a mandate cunningly inadequate. Any councillor who raised the matter again faced hell.

    The council was slowly cowed and hope expired. A former civil servant and GA Jaffna who enjoyed much public esteem, felt isolated and treated insultingly with hardly anyone willing to support him in the Council on issues. Being fond of Jaffna, he could not understand his present plight in Jaffna University as a virtual paraiah. Most councillors took the easy way out – by being dumb. (Contd)

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      It looks like the alsation dog that you are talking about here is Prof. Sivasegaram. I can’t believe someone who is so principled like him would collude with Vasanthy Arasaratnam who gives no importance to quality. I read the detailed report prepared by the Science Teachers Association some years ago. One does not need to know rocket science to understand that some of the cases mentioned therein were examples of sheer discrimination against talented candidates. If people like Prof. Sivasegaram cannot understand the gravity of the situation at Jaffna University, how can we expect any change at the University even with a new Council appointed after MR’s defeat. Sad, disappointing and frustrating. When I read the names of the new council members two years ago in the media, I was very happy to find Prof. Sivasegaram’s name there. I hope he would speak up against the current VC and other deans if they try to sabotage Prof. Sam Thiagalingam’s application.

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    (Continuation) When external members were appointed in 2015, the public was consulted and the VC had no say. But when two vacancies arose this year, we understand they were filled on the VC’s advice. One is the lady lawyer. A medical practitioner who had long been on the council, and was suspected of intention to defy her and Douglas’ whip at the 2014 VC election was, we learn, turned down by the VC this time. Now the council is in numbers practically the VC’s creature.

    When Thiagalingam’s application came up at the Council on 28th January, it was from the lady lawyer who was absent on that day that the VC got legal advice by phone to turn it down. Most Council members went home thinking that there was no point in talking about Thiagalingam’s candidacy any more. What saved it from oblivion was the fact that before the VC was alerted to it, the evaluation committee had scheduled it. The place is thick with conspiracies and teeming with conflicts of interest.

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