St Stephen's needs a new head, but are the criteria up to date?

With principal Valson Thampu's tenure coming to an end, St Stephen's College is looking for a new principal to replace him. Arguably one of the best institutes in the country, Stephen's is the alma mater of several people of prominence be it in politics, arts, sports or the civil services.

The institute and its alumni pride themselves for being liberal and progressive, but the notice put out announcing the search for a new principal may not be the embodiment of the ideologies of the students.

 St Stephens needs a new head, but are the criteria up to date?

A file photo of the St Stephen's College. Ibnlive

One such criteria is that those applying for the post must be "a member of (a) the Church of North India, or (b) the Church of South India, or (c) the Mar Thoma Church." These three congregations are only a tiny part of the many churches of India". Restricting it to only these three churches hardly makes the process democratic, given India's diverse diaspora of Christians who belong to several other churches. Not just that, anyone applying for the position also needs "a statement from the priest in charge of the congregation to which you belong, indicating the nature and extent of your participation in, and contributions to, the life of the parish". This clause will hardly judge the applicant's actual experience in the field of education.

It is well know that most leading Christian education institutes across the country are run by people from within the community, but in today's day and age, some of those institutes have actually chosen to concentrate more on the a person's administrative skills rather than their contributions to the parish. Take for example St Xavier's College in Mumbai. For the first time in its 146 years, they chose a non-Jesuit principal, Dr Agnelo Menezes, to take over from from Frazer Mascarenhas. Fondly called 'Aggie' by students, the 58-year old was the Head of Department for Economics and Public Policy. This indicates he must have been in the know how of the administrative processes of the college.

Another criteria is that all applicants must be between the age of 50-60. While the world is getting younger St Stephen's seems to still go by what could have been something fit for the last century. Apart from that, applicants must submit a statement on "books you have read (not more than 3) on the meaning and scope of education."

A college of the stature of St Stephen's needs an educationist, not a jesuit priest.  And as times change, it seems fit that this liberal college tweak its application a little to find someone who has more administrative experience in education rather than Christianity.

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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2015 20:02:41 IST