Jamia Millia Islamia Gets its First Ever Woman Vice Chancellor

After five months of Talat Ahmad quitting as vice chancellor (VC) of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Najma Akhtar, on April 11, was appointed the new VC.

Akhtar is a member of the NIEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). A woman has been appointed as the VC of the university for the first time in its entire history.

”It is indeed a welcoming development to have someone of her stature and caliber as our VC. It’s like being a part of history being created in Jamia Millia Islamia itself. I hope this brings about an era of fresh perspectives for intelligent management of human capital in the university and make it a more integrated and vibrant place in terms of education and culture”, said Karishma Kharbanda, student at JMI.

Akhtar was chosen by the Human Resource Department Ministry out of the three people shortlisted by a committee it had set up for the task.

The other two were S.M. Ishtiaque of IIT-Delhi and Furqan Qamar, the secretary general of Association of Universities. The VC was finalised by the President, Ramnath Kovind, who gave his approval on April 11 to the HRD ministry to appoint Najma Akhtar for the post of VC.

Akhtar heads the department of educational administration at NIEPA and has a specialisation in minority education and the decentralisation of education.

She has a Ph.D. from Kurukshetra University and is a gold medalist from Aligarh Muslim University, her alma mater.

She is also the founder and Director of State Institute of Educational Management and Training (SIEMAT), Uttar Pradesh.

An official statement from Jamia said:

Prof. Akhtar is known for innovations in educational governance. She has achieved time-bound targets in putting the Academic session back on rails and has demonstrated handling of University rules/regulations with a firm hand resulting in transparency and acceptance among students, faculty and the community. She is known for leading teams of diverse cultural background for International consultancy assignments. She is a pioneer in bringing fully funded long and short term international programs with diverse funding to her University and to the country. Gender Equity has been part of most of her projects. Her personal charisma clubbed with professional acumen in Institution Building makes a perfect combination for excellence in education.” It also said, ” Under her able leadership JMI may expand, prosper and provide safe and robust environment of learning attracting the talented from all parts of the country and abroad.

She has contributed to several research papers and has also authored two books.

Her profile on the NIEPA website also mentions her being the “Commonwealth Fellow for University Administration Course at University of Warwick and Nottingham” and “trained at the International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP), UNESCO, Paris.”

Ahmad had joined the University of Kashmir as VC in 2018, a year before his tenure was to end. The process of finding a new VC had been initiated immediately after and a committee with three members was set up to shortlist candidates for the post.

A formal letter addressed to JMI from the MHRD today said, “In exercise of powers conferred under Statutes of Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988, the President of India,  in his capacity as the Visitor of the JMI, has been pleased to appoint Prof. Najma Akhtar, NIEPA, New Delhi as the Vice- Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, for a period of five years.”

Ismat Ara is a Mass Communication student at AJKMCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. Whenever she isn’t reading books or watching movies, she is critiquing them. At other times, she can be found writing about college campus and gender-based issues.