Headless arid university in a puddle full of muddles

In absence of permanent VC, ad hoc heads were accused of a host of irregularities.

Mudassir Raja August 08, 2012


One of Rawalpindi’s leading universities has been without a head for the last 10 days after the acting vice-chancellor (VC) retired on July 29 amid controversy over irregular appointments.  

Dr Irfanul Haq, who retired 10 days ago, was the acting VC of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (AAU). He got mired in the controversy over new staff hiring, in violation of university rules and regulations.

First the deadline advertised for the 129 posts in the varsity was much less than those stipulated in the rules. Then, when teaching and non-teaching staff members at the university protested over the irregularities, Dr Haq issued backdated appointment letters to the selected candidates, without getting the required approval from the university syndicate.

The provincial government has not appointed a permanent VC after Dr Khalid Mehmood retired on February 1.

Since then, AAU has seen multiple issues, as the ad-hoc heads went beyond their mandate to get things done in a short period of time, according to senior faculty and administration officials.

After Dr Mehmood’s retirement, Dr Muhammad Munir --- the senior-most professor at AAU --- was appointed as the acting VC. He was accused of making irregular appointments, specifically relaxing rules to accommodate his son, who is now an assistant director at the university.

After Dr Munir’s retirement on May 5, Dr Irfan, who was next on the seniority list, was appointed acting head of the varsity. His appointment was followed by a flurry of irregularities and, eventually, protests and litigation.

AAU Academic Staff Association President Dr Nadeem Abbasi said it is “critical” for the university to have a regular VC in August as important decisions have to be made in the fall semester.

He said the staff has been looking towards the Punjab government for the appointment of a regular VC, as the new head has “to correct the misdeeds of the outgoing VC”.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.


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