An Interview with Father Felix Raj, SJ, Vice-Chancellor, St. Xavier's University By Pawan Dalmia - Editor - We Xaverian
1) What is your feeling after your dream of St. Xavier's Uniersity is realized? Its not my dream alone, it is the dream of the whole Xaverian Family, it includes the Jesuits, alumni, alumnae, the people of Kolkata, the Government, including the Honorable Chief Minister and many more. It is a collective dream, I was there to give a lead; yes the dream has been realized, it has become a reality but the vision 2020 must now take a different shape as vision 2025, because this vision must continue. We are still in the process. Our journey has been a successful one, there has been a lot of development in the university campus; students have been admitted, professors have been appointed, construction of buildings is going on, we are concentrating on offering to our students & faculty, as much facilities as possible for academic teaching, learning, research and consultancy. I am sure with the support of many people, alumni association & the Xaverians, we will be able to successfully complete this vision and be at the service of thousands of students. I feel very happy that this collective journey has been very fruitful & I am grateful to all those involved & to God almighty for his blessings & guidance.
2) Kindly tell us the story of journey of how your dream of SXUK came into realty? It is a journey; rather a long journey right from 2010 when we began to expand St. Xavier's College, establishing St. Xavier's University (SXUK) was a part of that expansion, we started working towards that and that's how the journey for the university began.
3) You always say - "if it is God's work, it will happen" ! Will you kindly share this conviction of yours? First & foremost, I am a Jesuit & my primary conviction is that everything I do is God's work, it is God who is working through me, I am only an instrument, this is what Saint Ignatius of Loyola and the Society of Jesus have taught me. If it is God's work, no one can stop it. Everything is possible for God. There are always people who differ from you or disagree with you. That doesn't mean you should stop the work. There will always be some Judases in our mission of announcing God's reign and denouncing evil in us. And around us. I don't think, I had the slightest idea of starting SXUK, it all happened spontaneously; that is why I believe that it is the work of God and so in the last six years we could successfully journey towards this goal of establishing the university. Nothing stopped us because God was there; God has been inspiring us to work for this goal, for this vision. Sometimes, our work may not be God's work, because it may be out of selfish motive or it may be out of self centeredness, egoism might come in, so it may be an individual's achievement, individual mission, but often, if it is an individual's mission, if it is not God's plan, it stops, but whatever is God's work continues. ThenHand of God guides you. God chooses us as his instruments & makes us work; it is He who inspires, so we need to put our total trust in Him and continue the work, He will take care of everything.
4) What are the factors on which you are going to give stress in the teaching, learning process in SXUK? Off course, we need to give focus on different methods of teaching and also more effective ways of learning and facilities are provided taking into account these requirements; classrooms, libraries, research centers, studios, hostels all these are facilities that we offer, for a good academic environment so that teachers can teach well and students can learn. We have started a good process and I am sure this process will be strengthened as we go on. We started with six courses, now we will have ten courses, five P.G. Courses, five undergraduate courses and an MBA programme; we will have in July 2018 around eleven hundred students. We want to introduce, taking into account the future needs, more courses relevant to our students, so that these courses open up avenues for further studies, research or for proper placement. We are discussing amongst the faculty members, on how and what type of courses we must introduce. We are thinking of starting Ph.D programme from 2019 and a law college in the near future & a sports academy soon.
5) What are the expansion-plans of SXUK? In terms of expansion of the university, we are thinking of academic expansion; by 2025 we must have at least 8,000 students in the university, we must introduce more courses, with CBCS (choice based credit system) & a cafeteria system in which students can choose their courses. We will also emphasise on skill formation, we shall also use the facilities for neighborhood children who want to study; we want to build up a good rapport with the neighborhood, so that SXUK is a center of change and development in the neighborhood. We are also thinking in terms of physical expansion; improvement of facilities, sports facilities, games facilities, hostel facilities, library facilities, research facilities, recreational facilities, medical & health care facilities, placement, proper placement of our students, all these will be looked into as we grow. We are also thinking in terms of collaborating with other universities.
6) Do you have any plan to open a Law School in SXUK in future? Yes, we have a plan to open a law school at Saint Xavier's University & I will be soon appointing a committee to look into it and taking advice from our alumni who are experts in this field. Thank you Pawan. God bless you. By email : firstname.lastname@example.org