Protest forces Edwardes College principal to flee

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The vigorous protest campaign by the staff and students of Edwardes College Peshawar made its principal Titus Presler to flee the country Thursday night, leaving administrative vacuum in the historic and prestigious seat of learning.

Titus Presler, who is a US national, had recently managed to return to Pakistan reportedly on a visit visa, which he had acquired by stating that he would be supporting the victims of the All Saints Church, Peshawar that suffered a deadly blast in September last.

However, on his arrival in Peshawar, he rejoined his office as principal of Edwardes College that he had left last year when he was allegedly deported from Pakistan for his reported dubious activities. During this period he had been running the office from abroad through email and Skype, sources told The News.

Some two weeks back, officials of secret agencies raided his house and interrogated him regarding some complications in his travel documents and his doubtful activities. Two days after the raid, he left for Islamabad only to return to the college on Sunday last, the sources said.

On Monday, he suspended certain senior professors of the institution. It triggered a protest campaign against him and the teachers, non-teaching staff and students of Edwardes College took to the streets. They pledged to continue the protest campaign till his removal as principal. The college management then closed the institution for an indefinite period.

The board of governors of the college was also annoyed over the college affairs and in its meeting in November last had constituted an inquiry committee to probe the matter and submit a report to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, who is also the chairman of the board of governors.

The probe committee, according to sources, met the other day and formulated recommendations to the governors about the college affairs. The members of the inquiry committee that was headed by Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, advisor to chief minister on higher education, were tightlipped about the recommendations. The committee members, the sources said, believed the recommendations would be made public after approval by the board of governors.

The sources said even the appointment of Titus Presler as principal was illegal. He had been appointed through a secret agreement between him and the Bishop of Peshawar Humphrey Peter, who was not the appointing authority, the sources said.

The sources added that the board of governors had not been taken into confidence for the appointment of the principal. This correspondent managed to acquire a copy of the agreement that allowed the principal to run the college affairs from abroad through email and online.

Under the agreement, the principal’s salary was fixed as 25,000 US dollars per annum. He was also entitled to other perks and privileges, including three time return air-fare to the US along with family, accommodation, security and medical cover.

The senior faculty members of the institution are of the opinion that the college presently was having an administrative vacuum. They urged the governor to name the acting principal and vice-principal of the college till the appointment of a regular principal in light of the summary submitted to him by the Higher Education Department.

They said that all the administrative actions taken by the principal from abroad should be declared null and void. A college professor said the principal through email from abroad recruited 40 people in the Edwardes College during the last two years, suspended several teachers and demoted a few other. “The governor should revisit all the decisions,” he stressed.

Source: The News.