Outgoing VC of LUMS: A job well done

Published: June 1, 2013



He sits in his office among books about nature and environment. This man got pavements along the campus broken to grow grass and go green. He offered his students bicycles in exchange for their cars parked in the university’s parking lot.

He has criticised on-campus politicking and supported the rule of law.  He has never accepted a single appeal during his two years in office. He has always believed in moderation, and wants people in Pakistan to smile more often.

Known for being accessible and easy to talk to, this academic’s tweets are laden with Munir Niazi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He jokes about Twitter being especially created for Urdu poetry. “What else can you fit in 14- characters?”

This is Dr Adil Najam, the Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). As he gears up to step down this June, there is a stack of books that he has been meaning to read waiting for him. And he cannot wait to resume teaching.

The building of the Razia and Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law – the fourth school at the university— has been designed already. The campus covered space has been increased by 30 per cent since 2011 and the energy cost and consumption reduced by nearly 10 per cent. A new agreement to increase funding under the LUMS National Outreach Programme is to be signed soon. In the year 2012, Rs358 million was given as aid under the same programme. Najam is a VC satisfied with what he has achieved.

Najam, who has formerly taught at the Tufts University and the Boston University, has been director of Boston University’s Frederick S Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. What brought him back to Pakistan after 20 years in the US was that “this opportunity gave me a chance to connect with my country closely. But what made me say yes, mainly, was the LUMS National Outreach Programme for the under-privileged students.”

When he moved back with his wife and children, he didn’t know for how long. “I never plan. Why should we? My two-year plan for a degree in the US took me 20 years to return.”

While he has no definite future plans for now, he is open to offers in and outside Pakistan.

Asked about a recent debate on local students’ online forums suggesting that Imran Khan should offer him the VC’s post at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Najam responds with good humour. “Public universities are a much bigger responsibility than private, but I will certainly not refuse Imran’s call; not the phone call at least.”

How important is popularity among students to the VC of LUMS? “This is not a popularity contest and I am not a candidate,” he said, adding that he’d rather be remembered as a VC who was fair and honest.

Najam shared his thoughts that there is a lack of patience and trust in Pakistani society as he briefly touched the controversial issues of the alleged paper leak and resignation of Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a former faculty member, who is also mentioned in Najam’s next book scheduled for release in July.

Supportive of evolution and change, Najam sees a social threat in those who have strong and blind certitude in their belief, and have extremist tendencies. Dr Najam sees the Pakistani youth as a “much more interesting generation than his”. He is hopeful because “people want to send their children to school. They have realised that the ticket to success is education.”

For him, youth are one of the five things in Pakistan that are going in the right direction. Music, media, resilience and responsibility are the other four.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2013.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Ahmed
    Jun 1, 2013 - 9:58AM

    Dr. Najam, we are so sad to see you go and so proud of you and all you have done. One of the most amazing Pakistanis of your generation. And you always do with humility, a smile and empathy. Am proud to have called you my VC. Thank you sir.


  • PowerPakistan
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:13AM

    Amazing man. But also an amazing loss to LUMS and to Pakistan.
    He really must stay in Pakistan. Pakistan needs him. I cannot understand how LUMS could do this to him.


  • Al_Physico
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:26AM

    Good PR skills as shown by this article!


  • LUMSian
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:27AM

    Very nice interview. But surprised at Imran comment. He usually has made no comments on politics like that. I asked him who he voted for, he smiled and said ‘For Pakistan’


  • Asjad
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:29AM

    Why leave sir?


  • Barbar
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:51AM

    “14- characters”? should be 140.


  • Omair Homaey
    Jun 1, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Thank for your contributions towards LUMS. salute


  • Sarah
    Jun 1, 2013 - 3:10PM

    The most inspiring Vice Chancellor my university has ever seen.


  • Sarim Zia
    Jun 1, 2013 - 5:21PM

    Nobody bothers to proof-read articles anymore?


  • Jafri
    Jun 1, 2013 - 6:32PM

    Good profile of a great man. A Pakistani every Pakistani can be proud of.
    But why has LUMS let him go? He must stay in Pakistan. Whether in Univeristy or in govt or in climate or foreign affairs or social sector. This man is an asset and he has chosen to come back. Now we are shooing him away again. Other great Pakistanis have returned to Pakistan wanting to serve and then have been hounded out by pygmies and their jealousy. Lets not do this to Dr Adil Najam. Launch a campaign to keep Dr Najam in Pakistan.


  • SK
    Jun 1, 2013 - 7:39PM

    He does have a definite plan charted out for himself. He’s returning to Boston University. That being said, if he, somehow, becomes the Vice Chancellor of a university in KPK, that would be amazingly great.


  • Azra
    Jun 1, 2013 - 7:52PM

    Unfortunately, the writer has has given credit to the outgoing VC of LUMS which he did not deserve! Adil Najam’s stay at LUMS will be remembered as the darkest and lowest period with his mindless firing of Dr Parvaiz Hoodbhoy!


  • M Baloch
    Jun 1, 2013 - 8:44PM

    Well done at LUMS…Now it’s time to implement Shariah in other liberal institutes by firing rational minds, sadly still there are few Hoodbhoys in Pakistan so your job is not done, keep it up professor…!


  • Falcon
    Jun 1, 2013 - 10:29PM

    @M Baloch
    @Azra and
    Your comments certainly show what has begun to go wrong with liberals of Pakistan. They have become conspiracy theorists like people on the extreme right. They remember outliers not trends. They have blind faith in their preconceived biases and they are comfortable with that. Regardless of the legitimacy of Adil’s differences with PH, his departure will be a loss for LUMS as well as the country.


  • John David Funge
    Jun 1, 2013 - 11:42PM

    You got me wrong, I am all in his praises…From firing Christian sweepers to Atheist Hoodbhoy, professor Najam has an excellent track record…Who can forget his noble services and great sacrifices for turning the pure land into the purest?


  • TheInsiderView
    Jun 1, 2013 - 11:46PM

    Things v been getting worse at LUMS but his era has been worst time for the institution. Marked by unnecessary controversies about which he never came clean.Students being treated like a non entity.Useless spending on green belts.Chaotic general administration and registrar office issue and ever increasing number of students.Did he mention that student intake also nearly increased by 50% in his 2 years?
    He is good at talking at that is what he does best.


  • RHS
    Jun 2, 2013 - 1:35AM

    Adil Najam & Pervez Hoodbhoy are probably the most popular scholars from Pakistan in the eyes of its overseas community. Both are brilliant and used to thinking outside the box. It is a pity that the two could not get along!


  • NameChanger
    Jun 2, 2013 - 10:31AM

    I s Mr. John David Funge, really Ms. Ayesha or Mr. Baloch (since he answers for them as if he is them)? Or did he just forget with which name he had posted last :-)


  • Jamshed Khan
    Jun 2, 2013 - 5:02PM

    Dr Najam’s one achievement that dwarfs all other – not extending Hoodbhoy’s contract and surgically removing this poison from one of the best academic institutions in Pakistan. Thank you, Sir. We are in your eternal debt.


  • Jamshed Khan
    Jun 2, 2013 - 5:08PM

    @Azra: Likes of Hoodbhoy are poison for the society, just like Taliban; both running their extreme agendas. Among so many good things that Dr Najam did, the best one was ‘not extending’ Hoodbhoy’s ‘contract’. And please stop saying Hoodbhoy ‘was fired’. The truth of the matter is that his ‘contract was not extended’. Stop twisting facts and trying to mislead readers with your words, just the way your leader Hoodbhoy does.


  • Joseph Britto
    Jun 2, 2013 - 5:14PM

    Although I have never met Adil Najam , I have had the great fortune to interact when we had
    a International Session at LUMS in 2011.

    He has immense and ABSOLUTELY the best talent in different sectors like Teaching/Research , University Governance , Climate /Water /Foreign and importantly
    Social Sector as well.

    A man of his calibre, knowledge , wisdom and importantly greatest humility should be admired and well rewarded for the great sacrifice that he and his family have made for
    sake of the homeland.


  • xasan
    Jun 3, 2013 - 2:03PM

    gr8 interview .. hats off to this man


  • Smooth_Talker
    Jun 11, 2013 - 5:51PM

    Thanks Adil Najam for curtailing students’ freedom of expression by making LUMS Law and Political Society a farce and destroying LUMS Student Council.

    Also, thanks for firing dozens of janitors who demanded legal minimum wage.

    Thanks, for destroying the values that LUMS community cherished the most.

    But i’ll admit that you are a great smooth talker and through your effective PR machine were able to sell your environment drama to the people outside LUMS very effectively.


  • Smooth_Talker
    Jun 11, 2013 - 5:52PM

    thanks for firing janitors who demanded minimum wage


  • Asim
    Jun 12, 2013 - 3:02AM

    Dr. Adil Najam is an asset to LUMS and Pakistan. You were the most student friendly VC and you have made LUMS a better place. I know some of my fellow students were not happy because of your tough stand on discipline, but as a student I want to thank you for always standing up for principles rather than for simple popularity. You will be greatly missed, Sir.


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