Thousands of students joined a rally in Jharkhand to welcome the first priest vice-chancellor of the newly established Kolhan University saying they expect the university to grow under the Jesuit’s leadership.
Jesuit Father Beni Ekka, director of Xavier Institute of Social Science (XISS), was named the vice-chancellor of Kolhan University on Aug. 12. He officially took office at the Governor House Ranchi on Aug. 13. State governors are chancellors of state-run universities in India.
In Chaibasa, where the university is based, people took out an impromptu rally Aug. 13 led by Madhu Koda, local parliamentarian and former state chief minister. Thousands joined the rally and expressed their joy by smearing each other with ‘abir-gulal’ (color powder) and bursting crackers.
Several students and Koda said they expect the university to become an exemplary educational institution under the leadership of the Jesuit priest. Jesuit missioners are known for education in the state.
Father Ekka said the government appointment “was a great surprise’ but he accepted “the offer as a challenge.” He said it would give him an opportunity to work in the underdeveloped region, “where as a large section of society is poor and underprivileged.”
Father Ekka is the second priest to become vice chancellor, highest decision making authority, of a university in India. Another Jesuit, Father Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu, was appointed Vice Chancellor of University of Madras some time ago but he had to step down because of political pressure.
Photo is of Fr. Beni Ekka, S.J.