By Sarmad Ali
(Pak Destiny) The Search Committee to recommend appointment of Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Punjab Information Technology University (ITU) has reportedly picked up a blue eyed of Shahbaz Sharif as it first choice for the slot.
The committee interviewed seven shortlisted candidates a week ago. Our sources privy to the process have revealed that the committee has finalized three candidates for recommendation to the chief minister and that Dr. Umar Saif, the sitting VC of ITU and the son of a long time close confidant of the Sharif family, Col (R) Saif Qureshi, will be placed at the top of the list in the order of merit.
The sources further say that Dr. Saif, a blue-eyed to Shahbaz Sharif, has been given marks for international experience for his post-doctoral work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
According to VC Criteria Guidelines available at the website of the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED), 10 marks (out of 65) are to be given to candidates who have served at “UNESCO-listed universities at Assistant Professor level or above.” Dr. Saif never served MIT at a teaching position of Assistant Professor or higher level.
Assessed from the publication data available on the websites of MIT, LUMS, and ITU, and Google Scholar, Dr. Saif was not even eligible for appointment as Associate Professor at a public sector university in the Pakistan because he did not have minimum 10 research publications in HEC recognized journals when Mr. Shahbaz Sharif appointed him as the founder VC of ITU in 2013. Our sources say that for the same reason, Dr. Saif is still ineligible for appointment even as Associate Professor at any public sector university in Pakistan, including ITU, since he still does not have 10 publications in HEC recognized journals. The HED and Search Committee would make a mockery of the VC appointment process by recommending someone for the VC of a university where he may not even be appointed as an Associate Professor.
Dr. Saif has also been serving as Chairman of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) since November 2011, controls the operations of the Arfa Technology Park (ATP) and technology incubator and accelerator Plan9 and PlanX. ITU was founded more than five years ago and enjoyed full support of the Shahbaz Sharif government. However, it has not been able to deliver highly skilled graduates who could meet the demands of the local and global IT industry. ITU is in its infancy and needs a full-time VC who could focus on the academic uplift of this one of a kind institution in the country, produce quality IT graduates, and make a mark on the international map of institutions of higher learning in computing and information technology. Pak Destiny