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AMU Appoints First Female Vice-Chancellor In Century

In a historic move, Naima Khatoon has shattered a century-old glass ceiling at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), becoming the first woman appointed Vice Chancellor in over 100 years. Khatoon’s trailblazing appointment was approved by President Draupadi Murmu, the Visitor to the University, after receiving the nod from the Ministry of Education.

The decision, which also secured clearance from the Election Commission given the ongoing Model Code of Conduct, marks a significant milestone for AMU, one of India’s oldest and most esteemed universities. Founded in 1875 as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, it was granted university status in 1920 through legislation.

Khatoon, who completed her PhD in Psychology from AMU, has been a part of the university’s fabric for over thirty years. She joined as a lecturer in the Psychology department in 1988 and became a professor in 2006. Since 2014, she has served as the Principal of the university’s Women’s College, a position that likely prepared her for the challenges of leading the entire institution.

Her appointment comes after a process that was not without controversy. In October 2022, Khatoon was among the five candidates shortlisted by AMU’s 27-member Executive Council, the university’s highest decision-making body. However, her candidacy drew objections from a section of university officials who alleged a potential conflict of interest, as her husband, Professor Mohammad Gulrez, had been appointed Acting Vice Chancellor last year.

One of the applicants who was not shortlisted, Mujahid Beg, wrote to President Murmu, calling for the panel to be set aside and the process reinitiated. He cited concerns over the Acting Vice Chancellor’s involvement in the selection process involving his wife.

Khatoon’s appointment has garnered mixed reactions. Some hail it as a progressive step towards gender equality in academia, while others remain sceptical due to the selection process’s controversies.

Regardless of the debates, Khatoon’s achievement is significant for AMU and the larger landscape of higher education in India. Her appointment not only shatters a century-old barrier at one of the country’s most prestigious institutions but also inspires women aspiring to leadership roles in academia.

As Khatoon assumes the mantle of Vice Chancellor, she will face the daunting task of navigating AMU through the challenges of the modern era while upholding its rich legacy and traditions. Her tenure will be closely watched for her administrative insight and ability to pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future for the university.

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