New Year, Anew Issues
At the outset of a new year, team MM got a chance to meet up with the Honorable Director with yet another edition of Director’s Desk. Given below is an extract from his interview regarding the latest issues faced by our institute.
MM. Why is Moodle heavily underutilized when it comes to digitally aiding students of our institute?
AB: I was not aware of this facility being available in our institute. Since I have been made aware of it now, I will discuss with the Dean (Academics) regarding the same and ensure that such an effective facility will be more utilized in the future.
MM. According to SCP, the overall performance of students of the first year has dropped drastically despite the reduction in credits. What course correction steps will be taken to tackle this issue?
AB: I believe that the introduction of remedial classes is a very helpful step to aid students. SCP has introduced a three-step counseling system- academic, emotional and financial. Hence, we are doing all we can to help the students perform up to their potential. Apart from this, I would like to have a debate regarding this topic in the Senate to understand the main reasons for this issue and find solutions for them.
MM. The network of many telephone providers is not available in many parts of the campus. Also, the speed of the internet is very low. What can be done to improve this situation?
AB: Yes, I have received frequent complaints regarding the speed of the internet and I’m figuring out solutions for it with the HoD of the Computer Centre. Any decent institute must have at least 4 GB institute-wide speed while we have a speed of around 1 GB. I had a discussion with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) regarding the same but it seems to be a costly affair and we’re planning to negotiate terms with them. About telephone connections, it is surprising why the network is weak even though there are several towers across campus. I will see what can be done regarding this matter.
MM. A committee was formed to look into the curtain money fiasco. What was the outcome of the report submitted regarding the same?
AB: The report has not been submitted yet. It will be submitted in the next HMC meeting, which will be probably held in the next month (February).
MM. What are your plans regarding the construction of a new hostel for girls?
AB: Currently, the funds are not very suitable for the construction of a new girls’ hostel. The present priority is the construction of an outreach center at Bhubaneswar and indoor stadium cum open-air theatre. Until and unless we complete our existing constructions, we are not allowed to start new ones.
We can consider converting S.S. Bhatnagar into a girls’ hostel once the construction of V.S Kurien hall (Married Students Hostel) is completed, which has a tentative deadline of July 2018; but I cannot give you my word as of now.
MM.What is the reason behind the installation of cameras near hostel premises? Is there any live- action monitoring for the same?
AB: The CCTV cameras are being installed not only in the hostel premises but also across the campus for security reasons. There is no live-action monitoring but the recorded footage might be used in the future (if needed) as means of proof, which will aid in the process of investigation.
MM. There was a talk about having campus-wide Wi-Fi and especially in the TIIR building. Also, MHRD has asked 50,000 colleges to provide free Wi-Fi on campus. Are we part of the list?
AB: No fund has been sanctioned by MHRD for any such project. So far, we have received funds for the renovation of toilets in the hostels and the work is underway. If MHRD sanctions funds for the same, we will definitely go forward to implement campus-wide Wi-Fi. But as of now, there is no plan for implementation of such a facility.
MM. What is the exact status of the outreach center in Bhubaneshwar?
AB: Boundary walls have been constructed; the land has been fenced completely to prevent encroachment. We are planning to give the duty of the design of the building to CPWD. We are going to prioritize that particular project, and it will be completed as soon as possible.
MM. Why was the new position of Associate Dean introduced? What is the difference between the role of Assistant Registrar, Dean and Associate Dean when all the three are basically covering the same topics such as Academics?
AB: Basically, the Dean’s office was getting overloaded. Hence, I had to introduce this new position. The tentative responsibilities have been announced. With time, their roles and duties will change accordingly. For example, I have assigned Mr. Alok Sathpathy (Associate Dean, Academics) to predominantly look into the academic matters of the B.Tech. and M. Tech. students. The Dean will take care of the Ph.D. issues. However, the Dean is the overall in charge of all the issues related to academics.
MM: What is the process of selection for Dean’s and Director’s nominees of SAC?
AB: The nominations have been done on the basis of the recommendation by the Dean, Student Welfare. The opinion of the Vice-Presidents of different societies is also taken into account.
MM. How was the response from the NITR Junta towards the voting for the best teacher award? What percentage of the population did actually vote and was it a fair verdict?
AB: I must say that I am a bit upset with the students’ response. Out of more than 5000 students on campus, only 1400 actually responded after repeated reminders. Students need to be proactive on such fronts because their feedback is highly essential for the progress of the institute.
MM: What were the criteria for the selection of the lifetime achievement award among professors?
AB: The names were forwarded by many of our alumni and the professors who were named the maximum number of times were selected. Moreover, an algorithm was made and we also took a weighting factor into account. The program will evolve over time and will be much more efficient and refined in near future.
MM. Why is the number of placement leaves restricted to 6, considering the fact that a lot many companies come for campus recruitment and 6 leaves does not seem to do justice?
AB: Yes, I understand that a lot of companies are coming for campus recruitments. However, our main objective is to ensure that every student on campus gets a job, but students shouldn’t miss classes in their final year. Hence, we have imposed a restriction on the number of placement leaves. Moreover, with the coming up of the Airport in Rourkela which will be connected with both Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar, there will be an improvement in the scenario, and students won’t spend much time by attending pool campuses. As of now, we have requested the TnP cell to schedule pool campuses either on weekends or on Wednesday, when final year students don’t have classes. So, I think it’s justified to have the limit at six. But if the Senate feels that there is a need to permit more number of leaves for placements, we can change the rule.
MM: After a gap of three years, we awarded the Bhubaneswar Behera all-rounder award during the Annual Convocation. Did we stick to the rules which had been laid previously?
AB: The earlier rules set by the Senate for awarding the all-rounder award was a bit tough. Therefore, students were not even eligible for that award. Hence, we have relaxed certain criteria so that people can get that award.
MM: A faculty recruitment drive was underway during the winter break. When and how many new faculties will be joining the institute?
AB: Around 5000 candidates had applied for the position of the faculty at NIT, Rourkela out of which only 50 were selected as suitable. However, I cannot assure how many of them are actually going to join the institute now. Moreover, many of them are currently abroad and hence, may ask for an extension of the joining date. Perhaps by the next semester, some new faculties might join us.We have a sanctioned strength of 485 and around 203 positions are lying vacant. Within a year, I am going to organize another round of faculty recruitment.
MM. The Delegation of Power of NITR mentions the presence of a Deputy Director. Do we have one?
AB: Yes, I am planning to introduce the position of Deputy Director. Moreover, the institute is in dire need of non-teaching staff and I have to conduct the recruitment process for them very soon.
MM. What are the further developments/changes you are aiming to make in the near future?
AB: My main focus is to improve the teaching-learning process of the institute. Once we improve the academics, our next focus will be on the quality of lab equipment. I will then go for the purchase of high-end lab equipments that will enhance the research environment. Besides that, I am planning to make the Dispensary 24*7 open and also have more medical officers at the Health Center. For that, I have to take permission from the Board of Governors. In addition to that, I want to ensure that my students stay happily in the institute.