University is a place where hetrogenous collection of students and scholars, with different interest, gather for intellectual pursuit along with their teachers for solving day to day problems of the society. Since universities belong to society, they are supposed to play an important part in preparing men for life in society, moulding them accordingly. Vice chancellor is the chief executive and principal academician whose job is the composition of administrative and academic decisions.
In India there are nearly four hundred universities. Some universities are run by eminent educationists, technocrats, former diplomats, former bureaucratizes, former judges and politicians. Since vice chancellor is the chief executive and principal academician, his position is unique in several aspects. He is required to exercise general supervision over all the activities of the university, both administrative and academic. His functions are so varied that one who is appointed to this prestigious position should have multiple competencies. He should be capable of exercising his powers efficiently and judiciously.
“2-3 decades back the office of the vice chancellor was the most exalted one. Men known for integrity and ability or those who had earned a measure to fame either nationally or internationally were offered the prestigious post, invariably the government used to pursue the candidate. Now the candidates pursue the government in a bid to maneuver their way into the job”, said a principal of a local college. According to him the cause of it is fall in standards of academics, erosion of university autonomy and more political interference. These developments generally affect the stability of the institution and academic atmosphere of campuses, he adds.
It cannot, however, be denied that the university has now become a complex organization where the vice chancellor is a father figure of university community.
Jammu and Kashmir, having a glorious past, once called Sharda Peath has nearly a dozen universities including one deemed university, SKIMS Srinagar, and a few central universities. Some are in expansion phase, some are developed, some are undergoing development phase and some are still in infancy. The authorities both at centre and state are currently engaged in selection process of vice chancellors for the universities where the tenure of VCs have ended.
Realizing the importance of prestigious position of VC for a university an eminent scholar and philosopher Warren Benis (1976) had observed. “A vice chancellor of Indian university should be born with the physical stamina of a Greek Athletic, the cunning of a Machivelli, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of a lion if possible, but above all the stomach of goat.”
In the light of above who suits to be the vice chancellor of a university? An academician or non academician is not much important. What matters is whether the person to be selected for the prestigious position of a Vice chancellor possesses qualities necessary to shoulder the burden of prestigious office of vice chancellor. However it is the unanimous opinion of educationist and scholars that success of vice chancellor depends upon the cooperation he receives from different sections of the university community, government and funding agencies.