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USM holds first Senate polls

Democracy at work: Dzulkifli (left) casting his vote during the
election at the USM main campus in Penang yesterday.
GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) held elections for the post of Senate members, a first of its kind for a public university in the country.

A total of 195 candidates vied for 41 seats (41 Senate memberships) in the one-day polling which were held from 9am-4pm at the main campus here and three other branch campuses.

The voters were confined to university professors, associate professors and visiting professors numbering 576 people.

USM vice-chancellor Tan Sri Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said he hoped the elections would usher the beginning of an autonomy-driven governance of the university.
Democracy at work: Dzulkifli (left) casting his vote during the election at the USM main campus in Penang yesterday.

“The election is in accordance with USM's new constitution which was gazetted last month.

“Previously, 61 members of the Senate were appointed by the vice-chancellor. They comprise 41 heads of departments and 20 people holding the rank of professors.

“Under the new constitution, we have expanded the Senate membership to 82 people. Of this, half of them would be elected,” he said, after casting his ballot at the university's main campus here yesterday.

The voting would be done based on the allocation of seats to five clusters Hybrid (nine seats), Arts (four), Sciences (13), Engineering (four), Health and Medical (seven) and Research Centre/Services (four).

Dzulkifli said under the new constitution, a number of new institutions would also be created, such as the ombudsmen.

“Under the ombudsmen system, the public can complain on university matters through whistleblowing. This is for better check and balance,” he said.

The university Senate is the highest authority in monitoring and implementing academic matters, such as approving the list of courses to be offered by each school.

Among those spotted casting their ballot papers were Dean of Language, Literacy and Translation Centre, Prof Dr Ambigapathy Pandian and School of Communication dean Prof Dr Adnan Hussein.

Dr Ambigapathy said students would probably view the election as a move towards further democratisation of the university.

Dr Adnan said it was too early to tell if the Senate would be better with the inclusion of elected members.

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