PESHAWAR: The newly appointed vice-chancellor of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) Prof Dr Safia Ahmad has pledged to make every effort for academic, research and administrative upbringing of the university to bring the institution at par with internationally reputed universities.
Dr Safia Ahmad took charge as vice-chancellor of the pioneer women university of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in June this year for a three-year term. Having an excellent academic record, she did her masters in Biology from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad in 1986 and
PhD in Biotechnology from Imperial College of Science and Technology University of London in 1992. Dr Safia did her first post-doc at the department of Chemical Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 2001 and second one at the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, George Washington University, Washington DC in 2007.
She joined Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad as lecturer in 1997 and was elevated as assistant professor in 2000, associate professor in 2007 to 25-02-2011 and professor (tenured) 2015.
She has also served as acting registrar of Quaid-i-Azam University and dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the same university. After joining SBBWU, she set some targets for herself to make the university one of the best institutions in the country. In an interview with The News, Dr Safia Ahmad shed light on the challenges faced by the university and her priorities to overcome those challenges.
She said the major challenge that the university was faced with was lack of sufficient number of faculty especially in senior positions. She said that faculty could not be hired for a number of reasons - bans and others. Soon after the ban was lifted in 2021, a selection board was arranged and some faculty was hired. However, due promotions of certain faculty members remained pending for years. It is her top priority to ensure the due promotions of the faculty members. This will certainly improve the performance and behavior of the faculty members, she stressed.
“My vision is to make the faculty, employees and students of the university satisfied,” she said. Infrastructural development is another big challenge for which she was thankful to her predecessor, who brought in a mega project of Rs1,735 millions under which a number of development schemes were underway in the university. She personally monitors all the projects on a daily basis to ensure its completion within the stipulated time and also its quality could be maintained.
The development schemes included establishment of library, hostels, cafeteria, administration and academic blocks and roads on the campus. With completion of these schemes enough facilities would be made available for the students.
The new vice-chancellor has also focused serious attention on improvement of the curriculum. For this purpose three committees have been formed, which would work for the improvement of the existing curriculum.
Also, some short courses would be introduced for the students so that they could get easy jobs. The short courses, she elaborated, would be pertaining to sewing, packing, tailoring, beautician, computer and information technology courses.
Being a senior researcher, the vice-chancellor was committed to promotion of research in the university. She said that some research projects by the faculty members in the university were already in progress. More such national and international projects would be acquired and the faculty would be encouraged to apply for more and more research grants, she maintained.
The university is also committed to playing an active role in the government’s drive for clean and green Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For this purpose active, plantation drives would be launched in the university.
Also, special projects would be launched for waste management/treatment. She, being expert on the subject, would introduce a project for treatment of waste water.
She said that “doable plans” have been adopted. The students of associate diploma would be enrolled in the fifth semester, if they want to continue their studies and get a BS degree. The university has some 60 colleges affiliated with it. The number would be increased, she said. Currently some 27 programmes are underway in 25 departments of the university in which some 6000 students were enrolled. Special attention would be focused on reducing the number of dropouts and enhancing enrollments.
In order to increase enrollments, publicity campaigns would be launched and some more programmes would be launched, she said. Some programmes have already been approved by the respective bodies, she added.
Regarding financial problems, she said that the university was not facing any financial deficit. This year too, the surplus budget was approved by the university, she said. However, efforts were being made to cut down expenses and generate funds from own resources. One of the top priorities of the vice-chancellor was to arrange more training and refresher courses for the faculty and administrative officers of the university to ensure improvement in their performance and their attitude with students, she said.
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