IISc has no associate director for eight months now

Institute Council forms search panel to select candidate

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is functioning without an associate director for eight months now.

Prof N Balakrishnan, who was associate director for nine years, resigned on July 31, 2014, the same day Prof Balaram retired as director. A good part of administrative responsibility that the present director Prof Anurag Kumar discharges cannot now be shared, as the associate director is yet to be appointed.

The appointment of Kumar as director went through a similar search process – it was undertaken well in advance of Balaram’s retirement. The same cannot be said of the appointment of associate director. What is surprising is that it has taken eight months for the IISc to even set up a search committee. Anurag Kumar confirmed the same to Deccan Herald. “The IISc Council has just now formed the committee to appoint a suitable candidate. These things take time. The search process is on.”

No timeframe was given for the appointment of associate director. The appointment may be taking time also because of an element of arbitrariness and personal preference involved in the process. A very senior academic, who has been part of several committees and who has held senior positions in the IISc, said the appointment of associate director was not statutory.

“The appointment of associate director is left to the likes and dislikes of the director. If the director wants an associate, the appointment will be made. If he doesn’t want it, the process of appointment will not be initiated. The post of associate director is not statutory.”

Other professors said that eight months was a long time for appointment of an associate director.

“There is no doubt that it takes time to appoint a new candidate, who has to be well qualified, have the relevant status and stature in the scientific field. Any search process will have to examine five to 10 candidates to select the best among them. We understand it takes time, but such a long time will send a signal that IISc is not serious about appointing an associate director.”

The long search period may also indicate that good candidates are not available. “The candidate should be someone of the stature of the director as both have to work in tandem. The IISc Council, the highest body in the institute, is aware that there has to be some parity between the director and the associate for smooth functioning,” a senior academician said.

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