The Nalanda University (NU), a dream project of the Central government to revive the ancient international learning centre in Bihar, began its first academic session on Monday with the motto of “excellence not numbers”.
School of Ecology and Environmental Studies and School of Historical Studies — two of the seven proposed schools in the university — started the inaugural classes with only nine students and seven faculty members at the Rajgir convention centre, the temporary venue for NU classes till it moves to a renovated state government building in the town. Fifteen students have so far enrolled in these two schools.
A permanent campus for the university would be constructed on Rajgir foothills from February next year.
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No member of the university board attended the formal opening of the varsity that has been opened through a special Act of Parliament. A congratulatory telephone call from former Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to vice chancellor Gopa Sabarwal and a few congratulatory email messages were all that the university administration received its “historic day”. “There are questions on construction plans and limited number of students, but we are focused on achieving excellence than getting the numbers. It is about making a statement of purpose,” the V-C said.
Dean Anjana Sharma noted that the university got over 1,400 applications but it did not go for numbers. “We are a research university, not a teaching university. After two years, we will be able send ambassadors of Nalanda University to foreign nations.”
The joint classes of two schools were on multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary streams of ecology and environment through power point presentations.
State-owned Tathagat Vihar hotel rooms would be used as hostel for students and guest faculties. A German teacher and an Indian teacher will join the faculty in a week.
Daniel, a student from Mysore who did his graduation in Peace and Conflict Resolutions, said: “I always wanted to study ecology in post-graduation that required a BSc degree elsewhere. But NU has a different approach of selection and got me on board because of my futuristic approach.”
Faculty members also expressed satisfaction at being part of NU. Associate professor in School of Ecology and Environmental studies Mihir Deb said: “I have come here with 40 years of teaching experience and hope to translate ideas into reality.” Assistant professor Samuel Wright from the US said: “It will be a great experience to be part of a growing university.”