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Bengal health university VC appointment ruffles feathers

Sources in the WBUHS said that Dr S C Biswas, head of the gynaecology department at the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGME&R) as well as SSKM Hospital was the first choice of the state government for the post.

Subhendu Maiti | Kolkata |

Dr Suhrita Paul (53), principal of the Burdwan Medical Hospital, was made Vice-Chancellor (VC) of West Bengal University of Health Sciences (WBUHS) on Tuesday triggering controversy over the appointment of the VC.

Sources in the WBUHS said that Dr S C Biswas, head of the gynaecology department at the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGME&R) as well as SSKM Hospital was the first choice of the state government for the post.

Dr Biswas was at the top of the list of three candidates selected by the university’s five-member select committee headed by Dr Susanta Banerjee, former director of medical education (DME).

The committee sent the list to the governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who is also the chancellor of the university for the final selection of the three contenders. But Raj Bhaban selected Dr Paul as VC virtually ignoring the state government’s plan to make 62-year-old Dr Biswas the health university’s administrative head.

Sources also said that Dr Paul, a pharmacology professor, might be the youngest VC in the history of the health university. Usually, senior teaching doctors contest for the VC post hardly four to five years ahead of their retirement in service.

The tenure of a health university is for three years and the maximum age limit for an applicant for the post is 65 years. It would be unheard of before the incident if Dr Paul comes back to her medical teaching profession after serving three years as VC, sources added. Dr Banerjee refused to make any comment in this matter.

The five-member select committee comprises members like state higher education minister Bratya Basu, Dr Nirmal Majhi, Trinamul Congress MLA and president of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC), N S Nigam, principal secretary of Health Department, and a representative of the National Medical Commission (NMC) had recommended the three names to select one for the VC post.

The VC post of the health university was lying vacant since August in 2020 with the end of three years’ term of the former VC Dr Rajendra Pandey, a nephrologist who was attached with the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGME&R) as well SSKM Hospital. Pro-VC Dr Kakoli Bose Roy used to look after the VC’s jobs as an acting VC till 18 July. But the health department did not renew her as an acting VC after 18 July