A year on, IIM-Sambalpur toils without full-time faculty
A year ago, when Amit Abegaonkar from Latur (Maharashtra) walked into the fledgling Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Sambalpur, his experience was barely fulfilling.
Getting into an IIM usually marks the culmination of high career aspiration and raises the bar on all parameters — from academic rigour to infrastructure to exposure and placements. But despite the coveted IIM tag, the institute in Sambalpur is struggling to deliver on many of these aspects.
As of now, IIM Sambalpur is running on rented premises of Silicon Institute of Technology, a private engineering concern, at its Sason campus, some 35-km from Sambalpur, an industrial hub in Odisha’s hinterland. IIM-Indore is assigned the task of mentoring IIM Sambalpur.
A narrow, meandering road flanked by farms leads to this IIM with picturesque hills in the backdrop. “Initially, the institute was not up to the expectations. Even bare minimum infrastructure like seamless internet connectivity was not in place. But I feel IIM Sambalpur is slowly evolving and coming on its own,” said Abegaonkar, a second year student of Post Graduate Programme (PGP).
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IIM Sambalpur, one of the six third-generation IIMs along with Visakhapatnam, Bodh Gaya, Sirmaur, Nagpur and Amritsar, was set up as per the announcement made in Budget 2014-15 to keep pace with the growing demand for good managers. Sambalpur (with no air connectivity), however, was not the initial choice of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry, which chose Bhubaneswar as the location for IIM in Odisha.
According to sources, the state government’s choice for Sambalpur stemmed from political reasons. The state government said a neglected region in western Odisha was selected for the premier institute because it didn’t want Bhubaneswar to become base of all important institutions.
For IIM Sambalpur, the lacuna is not limited to infrastructure alone. Even to this date, the institute is operating without a full-time director and does not have full-time faculty. “As of now, we have only visiting faculty but they are enough to cater to the academic rigour. The faculty is highly qualified and drawn mostly from IIM-Indore and other IIMs. We are also organising guest lectures where people from noted corporate houses deliver talks,” said a student.
Management guru Biswajeet Pattanayak, who has taught at IIMs (Lucknow and Indore), said “To begin with, handholding approach is fine but if it continues for long, it is not in the interest of the students. Having a pool of full-time faculty is essential for holistic development of the new IIM. Management education is not just academics. It’s also about grooming that goes beyond classroom teaching.”
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Pattanayak said there was wide disparity between the established IIMs and the newer ones on areas such as quality, exposure, co-curricular activities and holistic development. “In my opinion, the new IIMs are finding it difficult to grow without any legacy. Industry connect is very important and this is normally done by a full-time director with his team of faculty, which, in turn, helps students to bag prized placements,” said Pattanayak, founder director at Asian School of Business Management (ASBM) with campuses in Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar. “A person with an IIM background can be appointed as full-time director so that he can inculcate here the unique culture of IIMs.”
IIM Sambalpur authorities are upbeat on the appointment of a dedicated director. “A full-time director is expected by end of this year. Then, the appointment of full-time faculty will take off. At present, we are focusing on academics. Add-ons like academic and industry collaborations will begin in due course,” said Amrut Phalguni Mohanty, officer, IIM-S.
The heartening part is that the institute has a pool of talented students geared up for critical management roles, said a member of the visiting faculty. “Having been associated with IIM Sambalpur since its inception, I have observed the students and the college evolve wonderfully. The students here have developed exceptional abilities which enable them to distinguish themselves in the industry. I believe they possess the right mix of attitude and skills to excel,” said Rohit Kapoor, professor (operations management & quantitative techniques), IIM-Indore.
For the permanent campus, 237-acre land has been identified by the Odisha government at Basantpur on the outskirts of Sambalpur. Construction is yet to commence and it may take three to four years for IIM Sambalpur to get a building of its own.
As of now, the institute functions from a rented floor with three active classrooms. Students have access to library which is stocked with the latest journals and books. More than 40 visiting faculty have been involved in classroom teaching. The maiden batch of PGP took off in 2015-16 with 48 students. “Initially, there were some hiccups but no student was transferred to any other IIM. The first batch has completed four terms in the course and the entire batch has secured 100 per cent summer placement,” Mohanty said.
For summer placements, the IIM had 65 offers from 30 companies with Rs 70,000 being the highest offer for the two-month period. However, not many recruiters are coming here because of the remote location. It means the placement cell run by the students has to go the extra mile to invite recruiters. For instance, most of the summer placements were sealed through interviews via video conferencing. The second batch of IIM Sambalpur has been inducted with 46 students and their summer placement concerns have already kicked off the exercise for final placements of the maiden batch.
Source: Business Standard