Mirza Qalech Baig Chair

Forwarded by: Kureshi Mh
Courtesy and Thanks: Daily Dawn, 5.1.2009
AS reported in Dawn (Dec 17) the Board of Governors of the Qalich Baig Chair has decided to display the works of Shamsul Ulema Mirza Qaleech Baig, a literary giant Sindh has ever produced, at the Alama I. I. Kazi campus library of Sindh University.

The announcement bode well for the present generation, most of whom are unaware of a person whose contribution to the growth of the Sindhi language is second to none.

The BoG has also determined to conducted research on the literary contribution, scholars would be registered for MPhil and PhD work and documentaries will be developed on the life and contribution and to introduce Mirza Qaleech Baig to the younger generation.

The general impression that ‘chairs’ are established in universities solely to conduct research on the person in whose name the chair is established is misconceived. In the West a ‘chair’ is the most common form of endowments bestowed on a university through or by wealthy patron, association of alumni or any other social organisation.

This chair, although part of regular faculty of the university, is nevertheless conferred special status being provided only to the highest qualified authority available to that university and conferred special privileges, monetary and otherwise through endowment funds.

The tradition of an endowed chair dates back to 1502 when the mother of Henry VII, Lady Margaret of Richmond , established the Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity at Oxford University . Later on, Henry VIII created chairs in Civil Law, Hebrew, Greek and Physics.

Private individuals soon started adopting this practice elsewhere as well and this establishment of chairs in the western universities is regarded an as institution itself.

Two hundred years after this establishment, the first endowed chair was established in America , the Hollis Professorship of Divinity, created in 1721 at Harvard. Both chairs are still endowed to this day. At present Harvard University alone has 10,800 separate endowments.

The endowed chairs offer many benefits to the donor, the honoured scholar and, most importantly, to students. An endowed chair offers an opportunity to achieve a more diverse curriculum specifically; awards are used to fund graduate assistants, research, equipment, travel for scholarly pursuits and other expenses related to the responsibilities of the position, such as innovations to teacher education.

Scholars who are chair-holders receive recognition for personal achievements in their fields and the satisfaction that the university supports research and teaching in their discipline.

In the West donors who generously endowed chairs know that they are not only ensuring academic excellence in teaching and research, but that theirs is truly a gift to the future of the university. Endowed chairs are living memorials, perpetuating the donor’s name and signifying a permanent commitment to quality education.

The chair, therefore, has to work as institution in itself to provide universities a breeding ground for research, indispensable for attainment of quality education. For realising this higher goal, continuous flow of endowments is required, for which involvement of well-to-do people is an indispensible condition. Periodical seminars held in the name of chair may be used to invite and motivate affluent business houses and philanthropists to come forward and make contribution so that the rationale of establishing chairs, i.e. attainment of national goal of higher learning, can be achieved.

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