First in 100 years: Woman makes it to list of AMU VC hopefuls

Naima Khatoon is the principal of the Women’s College, AMU

Naima Khatoon AMU university Naima Khatoon

Naima Khatoon, has become the first woman in a century to be on the list of five names from which Aligarh Muslim University’s next Vice Chancellor is to be picked.

The first and last woman in the Chancellor post was Begum Sultan Jahan in 1920. Chancellor is merely an ornamental post unlike the VC.

Khatoon, who is currently Professor (Psychology and Educational Sciences) and Principal of the Women’s College, and the Director, Centre for Skill Development and Career Planning, is a native of Odisha. In the former position she oversees 3,200 students while in the latter she bears responsibility for around 700.

Her first degree from AMU was in 1981 when she stood third in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) Psychology (Hons.), examination. She would go on to do her thesis on ‘A Comparative Study of the Patterns of Political- Alienation and their Socio-Psychological Correlates among Hindu & Muslim Youth’ while already teaching as an Assistant Professor at AMU since 1988.

She comes with considerable administrative experience having been provost and warden of different halls of residence and also the deputy Proctor from 2009-11. She has also been the member of several key committees like the ones on pay parity and rationalisation of fees. In 1999-2000 she also served as Associate Professor/Reader at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the National University of Rwanda.

Khatoon says she is ‘hopeful’ that women members of the AMU court will vote for her.

“However, like any election it remains unpredictable”, she says.

The Executive Committee of the AMU (of which Khatoon is a member) picks up five names for the VC’s post. These are then put to vote in the AMU court- a 190 member strong body which includes, among others: deans, chairpersons, former Vcs, Mps, donor members, Educational Council Members and so on. The current court has only 91 members. The three names who get the most votes on November 6, will then be forwarded to the President of India to make a selection.

Khatoon is aware of the onus that shall fall upon her especially from women in the university and beyond, if she were to be selected.

“Though there is no discrimination in the university, there will be the expectation that I shall take affirmative action for women. While the university has given women their fair share of opportunities, perhaps the perception has not changed accordingly”, she added.

Khatoon says that she wishes her example would teach women that there is no job they cannot do as, and perhaps more, efficiently and effectively than men. “Women are born multi-taskers, planners, finance managers and the like. No woman should think- this (job/task) is beyond me,” she said.

While some elements might frown at the thought of the university having a female head, Khatoon believes that these are vastly changed times. “There is nothing that is not meant for women”, she said.

If she were to be elected, Khatoon says her focus areas would be on generating resources for the university, the introduction of innovative courses and getting the manpower to run them and making employability the key parameter on which courses are decided.

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