Prasanta J Baruah

Face to Face

Bhabesh Chandra Goswami is the Vice-Chancellor of Cotton University. A PhD from University of Liverpool, UK, he has over 41 years of teaching experience. A former Professor-Director of the UGC Human Resource Development Centre, Gauhati University, he was awarded the Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship. He is a visiting scientist to the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Iowa State University, Ames, USA, He has 29 research publications to his credit.

The transition of Cotton College into Cotton University was mired in controversy. Have all the issues been resolved?

The primary issue was the splitting of erstwhile Cotton College into two parts in the process of upgradation: (1) Cotton College State University (CCSU) and (2) Cotton College-a constituent college of CCSU. Most of the alumni including well-wishers of Cotton did not support it. A very few were of the opinion that Cotton College should remain as College. Their apprehension was that the glorious legacy of the college shall be affected. The first was resolved by the Cotton University Act 2017 and Cotton College has been upgraded to a university as one entity. The second issue will no longer exist: A university always has a better scope for progress to a large extent compared to a college and more so within the framework of the National Policy of Education. Cotton University can carry forward its heritage and glory handed down by Cotton College.

It is said that Cotton would have benefitted if it had adopted the Presidency College model.

Except the first phase upgradation of Cotton College, upgradation of Cotton College to Cotton University is similar to Presidency College model. Maybe transfer policy of members of faculty in West Bengal and Assam is different.

What about conversion of posts from Cotton College to Cotton University as per provisions of Cotton University Act, 2017?

Under the provision of the Cotton University Act 2017, all the posts of erstwhile Cotton College and the erstwhile CCSU have been transferred to Cotton University. For the vacant posts the University needs the concurrence of the state, which is at the final state of approval.

The higher secondary courses are still continuing.

As per the provisions of the Act and GoA, special provision to continue HS courses as a mentored course is being continued in reduced number so that quality teaching can be imparted

How are you making up for the Covid pandemic academic loss?

Though it was a 10 month disruption, the results of Final Exams have already been declared. The Aug-Dec session is also completed; the end semester examination has been planned from 24 Feb, 2021. With squeezing of syllabus and hybrid mode of teaching we will be able to finish the course and exam by June, 2021. Therefore, practically speaking, the students of CU shall not have to bear any burden of academic loss. The University will start the next Academic session from August, 2021.

What were the challenges you faced at the time of taking charge three and half years back and how did you resolve it?

I had to start from the framing of statutes, guidelines and rules for the development of the University; issues pertaining to inadequate infrastructure, insufficient research activities, absence of update on existing courses, introduction of new courses, shortage of class rooms, hostels were in bad shape as the last hostel constructed was about half a century back, a considerable number of posts both in teaching and non-teaching categories lying vacant. However, with the help and support of the existing staff and faculty since 2017, I think we have achieved considerable success.

But the progress has been retarded in the last 10 months because of the pandemic as elsewhere across the globe. So far more than 60 new members of faculty have joined in various departments of the University in the last 3 years.

What major steps have you taken for infrastructure development, opening of new courses and recruitment of both teaching and non- teaching staff?

By the end of this year, we would complete the first block of the Academic Building (18 big class rooms), 2 boys’ hostel of 126 capacity each, one girls’ hostel of 126 capacity, second Academic building for science. Within next few months we are also completing one student’s day home, administrative building, complete renovation of KBR Auditorium, units of employees quarter and a French Centre.

The Programmes /courses  introduced from 2018 to 2020 are: BA & MA in Mass Com and Journalism , MA in Bodo, BA in Sociology, Psychology, Liberal Arts,  PG degree in Lib & Information Science, Law, PG Diploma in Gender studies. Several other Certificate & PG courses are in the pipeline.

What is the present status of research and development in the university?

University now has 43 number running Research Projects of sanctioned amount of Rs 8.2 crores from different funding agencies (Including In-House-Projects) and one consultation project in Physics. Each Department has PhD Programme with total number of 349 scholars till date.

Several MOUshave been signed with high-ranking institutions like Tezpur Univ., IASST, IIT Guwahati, University of Texas at Arlington and International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, French Embassy and also a few are lined up for further collaboration.

A project titled “Cotton University Particle Accelerator-NE Collaboration” is ready for submission to Govt of India to construct a World Class Accelerator Facility at Bongora Campus.

It is a joint research facility project for students and researchers of entire North Eastern India.

University has 50 nos of publications in 2019 and 66 nos of quality publications in Jan-June2020. This shows rapid acceleration in Research activities.

NAAC assessment is now mandatory. How are you preparing for it?

We are preparing for the NAAC accreditation in 2021. Since the last three years some steps have been taken by the University. These include the introduction of CBCS system, new courses, new departments, online student feedback system, Student mentoring system, online parent-teachers meet, in-house research projects funded by the University.

How are you going about the important area of placement of students?

A good number of students from our University are being employed in PSU, educational institutions, banks, APSC etc under the constant guidance of our faculty members.

Alumni contributions to institutions is a great game changer today. What steps are you taking in this area?

Besides having an active Alumni Association with an independent building, a database of the alumni has been created at our website as “Alumni Portal” that will help one to reach out to the alumni of this institution. Similarly, alumni of this institution shall be able to come together and also contribute towards the progressive growth of their almamater. It is worth mentioning that the alumni have already contributed in areas such as donation of books, maintenance of 8 BPL students at CU, contribution of about 35 lacs to construct one state of the art conference hall among others.

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