Mumbai's St. Xavier's College is set to have a non-Jesuit principal for the first time in its 146-year old history. Dr Agnelo Menezes will be taking over as the next principal of the institute from Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, who is retiring after 12 years at the helm.
Fondly called 'Aggie' by students, the 58-year old was the Head of Department for Economics and Public Policy. He will take over by the end of May, ahead of the beginning of the academic year.
"For me it’s the next step of the journey, I've been part of this college for a long time, as a student as well as a teacher and this is just another post for me," said Menezes over the phone.
On being asked whether his new role would impact his teaching, he said that while he will not be giving up teaching the load will reduce to accommodate his new responsibilities.
Menezes's appointment marks the first time that St. Xavier's will not have a priest at its helm. Known to be among the top colleges in the country, the institution was established in 1869 by Christian missionaries from the Jesuit order of priests.
Dr. Menezes used to be part of the Jesuit order himself but left it and concentrated on his teaching career. Apart from the economics department, he looked after the college canteen and hostel as well.
Student who have been tutored by Menezes have welcomed the college's decision to appoint him as the first lay principal. Marina Quadros, who majored in economics from St. Xaviers in 2011 said, "Aggie is my favorite professor, he is an excellent teacher and helped us a students a lot. I am glad that he is going to be the next principal." Her classmate Richika Padubidri echoed her sentiments saying that Menezes would make a great principal.
Many others took to Twitter to talk about Menezes and wish him luck, including former students Rajdeep Sardesai and Peter Griffin.
All the best Aggie! http://t.co/udLwSYXiko
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 14, 2015
Class prof in my first year of jr college will be St Xavier's College's next principal. One of my childhood buddies is vice-principal #old
— Peter Griffin (@zigzackly) May 14, 2015
— Nikhil कुलकर्णी (@VocabSahab) May 14, 2015
— Anahita Mukherji (@Newspaperwalli) May 14, 2015
— Nigel Britto (@NigelBritto) May 14, 2015
St. Xavier's. Father Fraser leaves. Mr. Agnelo Menezes bags the seat and he deserves it very well. http://t.co/2ImpRtJDor
— Dilkash (@dilkashmlm) May 14, 2015
Outgoing principal Mascarenhas is among the most well-known academic figures in the city. He was instrumental in making the college autonomous and having hosted US President Barack Obama on campus. He had courted controversy during his tenure as well with his comments on the Gujarat government during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as his reactions to Shiv Sena's Youth Wing.
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Updated Date: May 14, 2015 18:14:01 IST