Although the world is still reeling under the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, life is getting back to normal slowly but steadily. Life always has an ability to adapt itself to its changing surroundings. As human beings we have come of age after surviving numerous wars, natural and man-made calamities, pandemics, diseases and dangers. Post-COVID, we are bracing ourselves for drastic lifestyle changes that will go a long way in defining our future and the future of our planet.
In the same way, St. Xavier's University, Kolkata has also come of age and has adapted itself in new ways to continue its mission - 'forming men and women for others'. We do not only dispense quality education, but we also form future-ready responsible citizens of the world. Their grooming is not solely dependent upon bookish knowledge but on a spirit of 'Xaverianism' that is omnipresent through the numerous activities that the students, teachers and staff of the university undertake and participate in.
The Ignatian Year, commemorates the 500th anniversary the Cannonball Moment of Ignatius of Loyola - that fateful day when Ignatius, a swaggering "caballero" and the soldier in the service of the Spanish king, Ferdinand, transformed into Ignatius the pilgrim for Christ, after being hit by a cannonball that injured both his legs.
A Cannonball Moment is when purpose meets a new path. It is the understanding of the 'why' that drives what we are, and what we do. In that moment, life takes on a new meaning and our purpose becomes clear. It is a moment that inspires fulfilment in all areas of life and changes the future by asking us to be fully human and fully alive.
Universal Apostolic Preferences
The main objective of the Jesuit Order is to serve the poor and the marginalised people; and to further that, the Jesuits have decided the four universal apostolic preferences for the next ten years to lead themselves on. The four universal apostolic preferences are:
1. Showing the way to God
2. Walking with the Excluded
3. Journeying with the Youth
4. Caring for our Common Home
Safe Home for Covid Patients
The University could not be averse to the sudden upward trajectory of demand for beds for COVID-19 patients in the government and private hospitals. The Vice-Chancellor and his team of committed faculty and officers came forward to convert a part of the Arrupe Building (Library Block) into a Safe Home for accommodating corona patients in and around the university.
The Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, HIDCO and the District Administration of North 24 Parganas partnered with us in this noble endeavour. Admissions of COVID-19 patients were monitored by a galaxy of medical specialists from Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the team at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata.
In the spirit of the Ignatian Charism, SXUK organised COVID vaccination drives for our stakeholders - students, faculty and support staff. The first camp was jointly organised by the Siddhartha Shankar Ray Foundation and Nandlal Chirimar Memorial Trust on June 3, 2021 at Bidhannagar Community Hall. Around 850 vaccine doses were administered in one day.
The University and St. Xavier's University Kolkata Alumni Association (SXUKAA) jointly organised another COVID-19 Vaccination Drive in collaboration with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal on Wednesday, 23rd June, 2021 at the University's campus. The camp was supported by the District Administration of North 24 Parganas. Almost 200 beneficiaries, including Jesuit Fathers, university staff, security personnel and construction workers received their jabs.
A third COVID Vaccination Drive was organized by the University on 3rd July, 2021 for the benefit of the students and alumni of the University. The initiative was jointly taken with SXUKAA in collaboration with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal. More than 200 beneficiaries including students, alumni, their family members and construction workers of the University were vaccinated in this drive.
A fourth vaccination drive was organised for the rural population of Gurap village in Hooghly district on 29th of August, 2021. A total of 248 people received their doses of Covishield vaccine on that day.
Collaborative Research Initiative and Social Outreach
Parasmani, Centre for Research and Social Outreach of St. Xavier's University, Kolkata (SXUK) located at Ratanpally, Santiniketan, Bolpur, was inaugurated on July 10th. The Centre shall be upgraded in due course of time with the latest technological and reference materials so that scholars, particularly from the domain of Social Work, Literature and Management can focus on high-end research that shall ensure the percolation of their outcomes to the rural populace.
It has also been envisioned to act as a collaborative link between Viswa Bharati University and St. Xavier's University. A Research Committee under the leadership of Dr. Mourlin Fernando. Parasmani shall also be a Centre of regular formation and training for faculty and students of SXUK.
75th Independence Day, 2021
The University celebrated the 75th Independence Day with gusto amidst a decent gathering of Jesuit Fathers, faculty, staff and students. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Prof. Dr. Mammen Chandy. Prof. Chandy is the Director of Tata Medical Center, Kolkata and heads the Department of Clinical Haematology and Bone-marrow Transplantation. Dr. Chandy represents the community of countless doctors who serve us day in and day out for our well-being. Their relentless service to mankind has helped billions of men and women to avert the tragedy of succumbing to the devastation caused by the tiny, invisible Corona Virus.
Our commitment to quality was not affected by the COVID pandemic in the least. This has been reflected in the admissions procedure that the university has adopted for the current academic session. With the cancellation of board exams across the country and the lack of clarity regarding the calculation of Class 12 results all across, the University decided to conduct online examinations for all hopefuls seeking admission to our university. This has provided a fair chance to all even though their board results may not have been a proper reflection of their merits. Thus, we have successfully admitted 1300 students.
The Inaugurations of the undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programmes have already taken place in the month of August and classes are in full swing virtually. The university is also contemplating offline classes once the pandemic subsides, normalcy is restored, and the government gives the green signal.
Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
02 Sep 2021