Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Suresh Garg is currently Vice-Chancellor, Usha Martin University, Ranchi. India. Before this, he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Himalayan University, Itanagar; an appointment he took after his superannuation from IGNOU on May 31, 2016. He has been Professor of Physics at Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi since 1993. From 1999-2002, he was Director, School of Sciences, IGNOU and in the period 2002-2006, he served as Vice Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University. He also served as Director, Distance Education Council from 2004-06. In the period 2008-2010, he worked as Commonwealth expert and was deputed as Founder Director, Centre for Learning and Teaching, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho. Earlier, from 1996 to 1998, he also served as Commonwealth Distance Science Expert at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji Islands.
He has vast experience of having served on academic, research and management boards of several conventional and open universities in the country and abroad. He is a member of several national and international professional bodies like Indian Association of Physics Teachers, CASTME-Asia, and ICTP-India. While he was Pro Vice-Chancellor, he served as Secretary, Global Mega Universities Network (GMUNET). So, he carries vast experience in educational planning, management, and pedagogy. Prof. Garg is a prolific writer; he has co-authored four books in Physics and three in education. He has also co-edited five books on different aspects of distance education, besides publishing more than 75 research papers in national and international journals of repute, 24 chapters in books and a large number of popular articles in national magazines and journals.
Dr. Garg has been Chief Editor of Indian Journal of Open Learning published by IGNOU and Editor of Global E-Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Education. He has been on the Editorial Boards of Association of Asian Open Universities. At present, he is on the Editorial Boards of International Journal of Scientific, Engineering and Educational Research published online, Open Praxis published by ICDE from Paris, International Journal of Physical Sciences, American Journal of Education, Journal of Instruction and Staff and Educational Development International Journal. He has traveled widely and delivered lectures on various topics on values, science, education and distance education.
Prof. Garg believes in evolving innovative practices and has successfully completed many sponsored projects on education, training, and research for capacity building. He was the team leader of the UNDP-DOPT project for the capacity building of Indian bureaucrats through distance learning, projects on Conflict resolution through Science and Technology and Development of Training Modules for Head Teachers sponsored by Commonwealth Secretariat (London), Training of PGT teachers of Jawahar Navodya Schools. He was a pioneer in developing and offering IPR education at IGNOU while the subject was just in its infancy in the country.
Dr. Garg’s experience in the education industry
Higher education is a multi-billion industry. It is the best vehicle for socio-economic empowerment of the society. The fact that education is an organic entity and evolves to meet emerging needs, working in a higher education institution is most satisfying intellectually. One gets opportunities to work at the frontiers of knowledge with bright young minds.
Education is liberating and empowering force. In this sector, one is in touch with fresh minds who have the capability and capacity to innovate. This is a challenging task and opportunity to excel.
Dr. Garg’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
A leader ought to be a visionary and know how to implement his ideas into success stories. Supreme qualities of leadership are honesty and integrity. A leader inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. A leader must be an excellent communicator, have passion and show commitment to reach higher horizons. Moreover, he/she must embody intelligence, truthfulness, objectivity and honesty.
I am stickler to rules and believe in creation of healthy conventions. I took it upon myself to implement various provisions of Act, Statutes and Ordinances in letter and spirit through various statutory authorities of the University. The quality of inputs and outputs determine the credibility and sustainability of a university. And as executive and academic head, I as Vice Chancellor possess attributes of scholarship, humaneness and capacity to work in a collaborative environment without any reward for self.
Dr. Garg on the efforts done by Usha Martin University to ensure that the academic support services are sufficiently well-resourced
As a policy, we recruit the best available talent. The Assistant Professor is a potential Professor. We provide technologically-rich environment; all lecture halls are fitted with a/v facilities. We encourage our students to use technology to locate latest educational resources. We have a very rich e-library.
Plans for further expansion in terms of acquiring knowledge and professional skills
Usha Martin University has a well laid out procedure for addition of new programs. All proposals from the management and faculty are placed before the Academic Council and Board of Management. These statutory bodies meet regularly and have very senior academics as members. The decisions of these bodies are deliberated by the Board of Governors.
Dr. Garg on how to ensure that a growing proportion of the teaching staff of Usha Martin University have some form of teacher training
The University has formulated policy for professional development wherein they are encouraged to participate in conferences, workshops, etc. They are also permitted to organise workshops in the University.
Steps taken to maintain the positive environment in Usha Martin University
UMU believes in providing equal opportunities to all in admissions as well as employment. While doing so, we put particular emphasis on merit and quality.
Measures taken by Usha Martin University to ensure the process of internships
We believe that internship is very vital for professional students. The university has made sure that every student of MBA gets summer placement by liaisoning with employer groups in the industry as well as services sector.
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
Every student must be focused and clear about the goal in life. They must develop the sense of service towards the society and seek enjoyment in giving rather than taking. It is said that sound mind resides in sound body and high character paves the best route.