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Former Pune University VC, UGC chairman Dr Arun Nigavekar passes away

In 2000 and 2005, Nigavekar served as the vice-chairman and the chairman of the UGC where he was credited for introducing many reforms.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: April 24, 2021 12:41:41 am
Former Pune University VC, UGC chairman Dr Arun Nigavekar passes awayIn 2000 and 2005, Nigavekar served as the vice-chairman and the chairman of the UGC where he was credited for introducing many reforms.

Former chairperson of the University Grants Commission and former vice-chancellor of the University of Pune (then), well-known physicist and educator Arun Nigavekar died on Friday at his residence. He was 79.

Close colleagues and family friends said Nigavekar was under treatment for cancer since some time.

Born in 1942, Nigavekar was the founder director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), who played a major role in raising the quality of education in higher educational institutions and was once described as the ‘Father of Quality Movement in Higher Education in India’ by former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, to whom he acted as a scientific advisor.

A Dakshina Fellowship holder of Rajaram College in Kolhapur, Nigavekar completed his education in Pune and Uppsala in Sweden, where he held the SIDA Fellowship. In 1977, Nigavekar became a professor of materials science at the University of Pune and established the centre for advanced studies in physics in Pune in 1980.

Between 1998 and 2000, Nigavekar was the vice-chancellor at UoP. Current vice-chancellor Dr Nitin Karmalkar recalled how under the late physicist’s leadership the Indian Science Congress was hosted at the university for the first time and attended by former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“It was a huge moment of prestige. First as a student and later as professor, I had interacted with Nigvekar sir who was always a visionary. It was under his leadership that NAAC was established, which is a huge benchmark of quality education for institutions,” he said.

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In 2000 and 2005, Nigavekar served as the vice-chairman and the chairman of the UGC where he was credited for introducing many reforms.

National research professor and former UGC vice-chairperson Dr Bhushan Patwardhan described Nigavekar as a true visionary, reformer and eminent educationist. “One of his most important contributions was founding the very concept of a national accreditation council, which has had tremendous impact on quality of higher education.”

“As chairman of UGC, he came up with several visionary ideas like the universities with potential for excellence. During his term at UGC, I got the opportunity to convene a committee on promotion of Indian higher education abroad. His report in the tenth five-year plan is considered as a reference point for reforms in higher education even today. During the current Covid-19 crisis, the University of Pune is relying heavily on the EMMRC, which is producing e-content but it was Dr Nigavekar, who helped establish it during his tenure. He was a visionary and had introduced concept of technology enabled education and open learning concept quite ahead of his times,” said Patwardhan.

Nigavekar, who has 70 scientific publications to his credit, was a popular teacher, said university officials. He was a visiting professor in University of York in the UK and University of Western Ontario in Canada in the 80s. Nigavekar had visited 35 countries as a guest lecturer and had received the Life Time Achievement Award and was awarded the Honorary Doctorate Degree by nine universities.

His contributions in science education, as a founder editor of Physics Educational Journal, a journal of international repute, are recognised globally. He was a permanent member and was vice‐chairman of the Asian Physics Education Network, a UNESCO organisation.

He had served as chairman of several committees set by the Central and state governments and many international organisations in the domain of new policies in professional and higher education.

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