A Sojourn To The Alma Mater
For any leading institute, a staunch alumni network is one of the core factors. Alumni not only etch a mark of the Institute on the geographical map of the world but also help in running of the institute on various fronts. They act as guides to the current students to help them in choosing the right career paths. Amongst the recent dissentient among the NITR junta regarding the current student-alumni relations, Team MM interviewed Prof. Bidyadhar Subudhi, Dean Alumni Relations on Saturday evening to know his perspective on the issue and what steps has he taken or planning to take to improvise the situation.
MM: Comment on the current student-alumni and institute-alumni relations.
BS: Both the relationships have enhanced. As compared to the previous years, alumni have now clearly expressed a wish to help out and be a part of the everyday proceedings of the Institute. In the recent reunion of the class of 1972, the batch representative Dr Devendra Kumar Das expressed his own and his batch mates’ desire to help out the bright students who are held back by their families’ poor financial background. There was a proposal of an “endowment scholarship’ worth INR 50 lakhs which would be generated by the batch. This proposal was forwarded to the Senate, and an account was opened.
“The last I checked, the account contained almost 30lakhs and I am very hopeful of it reaching INR 50 lakhs soon. This noble gesture will certainly help out 7-8 students every year with almost 50,000 rupees.”
The selection procedure for this scholarship will be done by a committee comprising of Dean of Alumni Relations, Dean Academics, an alumnus faculty, Assistant Registrar of Training and Placement, President NITRAA and Dr Devendra Kumar Das himself. The scholarship will be available from July 2017, and the selection criteria will be the merit along with financial earning of parents.
MM: What steps have been taken by you as Dean AR to improvise the situations?
BS: During the Hyderabad meet, the authorities present from our institute expressed how the MHRD’s funding is insufficient on the development work going on. So, the proposal of a corpus fund worth INR 26 crores was put forward.
Another step was that to increase the student outreach regarding indoor stadiums like squash courts, artificial mountaineering, etc., we estimated the cost to be INR 26 crores and hence we presented the idea to the alumni and urged them for their support.
MM: Till now there is no official student-alumni relation cell. What is your say on that?
BS: Last year we created a group consisting of faculty to support us. We are in the process of inducting some student volunteers now.
“Through Monday Morning I wish to pass on the message to the student populace that the interested students are welcome to be a part of this volunteer group. We also have plans of giving this group their own work space along with telephone facility and access to the database to contact the alumni.”
We are aiming to get one volunteer from each course of each department. It amounts to approximately 50 people.
MM: What is your stand on the Student-Alumni Relations Cell by NITRAA and how far do you think would it help in strengthening the current scenario?
BS: Of course this step will assist in strengthening the alumni-student relations better. Nonetheless, we urge you to not to confuse the working of this student group with the student group by the alumni relation cell. However, the SARC students are welcome to join as student volunteers that we require because their experience till now will benefit the cell.
MM: The Alumni Meet which was organised last year by the Institute alumni cell witnessed a minimal participation from the alumni side. What was the cause for this and what steps have been taken by you to prevent such in the nearby future?
BS: I feel that despite the minimal participation, there was a silver lining. The reunions conducted till now have been personal events where the alumni-institute interaction is minimal. It was decided that four reunions will be celebrated, 50 years, 40 years, 25 years and ten years. Also, the reunions will now be conducted jointly by the Institute and alumni network and we shall be giving the necessary infrastructural support. The reunions of the ’91 and ’72 batch were done in the similar fashion. Following the celebrations, the alumni’s are coming forward to discuss the possible way of helping out the Institute.
MM: How did the 1972 Golden Jubilee Meet go and what were some of the suggestions put forth in it?
BS: In addition to the handing over of endowment scholarship check, we proposed the idea of “chair professor.” There are essentially two kinds of chair professors; we introduced the idea of one who is entirely funded by the alumni network. An existing professor could also qualify for the same and get an additional bonus from the same. This proposal will encourage research and quality work.
MM: In an interview with distinguished IPS officer Lalit Das, he suggested to have an app showing the addresses and contact numbers of all the NITR students in the nearby location. What do you think about its feasibility?
BS: This is a good idea certainly, however, the frequency of the usage of the app is also essential. The database of the oversea alumni needs to be improved, and we lack the human resources of the same. Comparison with other institutes is fruitless as they have the required workforce and we don’t. Preparation of the app is a technical and simple task. The major challenge is the maintenance of the database.
“We have requested for a full-time employee for the maintenance and management of database.”
MM: What was the outcome of the recent alumni meet in Hyderabad and how do you plan to implement them?
BS: The first result of the event was to make the alumni database more pragmatic and updated. Also, considering how most of our alumni are heading various MNCs, many deliberations were held on steps to be taken by both the Institute and the NITRAA to enhance the placement scenario. Additionally, in the presence of various authorities, we chalked out changes to be made in the curriculum keeping in mind the inputs from the alumni. To increase the employability and skills in students we are in the process of making a document that will be circulated among the alumni network and feedback will be recorded on the academics. These feedbacks will be inculcated in the curriculum change. Plans were drawn out to strengthen the School of Management of our institute with the help of Vinod Gupta School of Management. A student-alumni interface cell was another suggestion, but it requires the student participation. In the following years, more alumni will be visiting the institute and giving talks.
In a nutshell, we are in the process of making such changes that will allow the alumni to contribute to decision making, fundraising and mobilising the student's interest in internships, etc.
“Also, we would like to inform all the students that in the past six months, the website of alumni relations has been revamped and updated. All students are requested to make full use of this.”
MM: There are plans of various alumni’s visiting our institute in the coming weeks which was decided in the Hyderabad meet. What all arrangements have been made for the same?
BS: Mr Venkata Narasimha Peri is due to visit on the 21st of January. However, the exact schedule is not finalised yet.
MM: Do you plan to have events like this every year?