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Founder Forced to Leave, Says Ashoka University’s Political Data Centre; Varsity Says He Did Not Clear Tenure Process

Ashoka University finds itself in the middle of yet another row after the scientific board of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data (TCDP) claimed that its founder and director, Professor Gilles Verniers, was forced to leave the varsity. The board said that it would be dissolving itself as it claimed it was not informed or consulted on important decisions made at the centre.

However, the varsity, in its official statement on Tuesday, said otherwise. “Professor Verniers’s departure from Ashoka University is due to him not clearing the stringent tenure process, which in his case happened almost a year ago. Faculty who do not qualify for tenure exit the university within three semesters.”

The varsity further said Verniers had not been teaching at Ashoka for the last year and has now chosen to leave the campus.

In its statement, the university further said, “It is proposed that some of the centres and offices at Ashoka University be integrated with the new Centre (Centre for Data Sciences and Analytics) in an effort to enhance its data-driven capabilities and foster a readily accessible collection of data sets. The Trivedi Centre for Political Data is among them, and TCPD’s proposed integration with the new Centre has been communicated to the TCPD Scientific Board recently.”

It was in June this year that Ashoka announced the creation of the CDSA.

In an open letter, the scientific board members stated, “TCPD’s vibrant and important agenda, under the leadership of founding director Professor Gilles Verniers, is what attracted each of us to serve on its Board… We now write to state our regret that the centre’s founder and director was forced to leave and the university did not inform the Centre’s scientific board about decisions that affect not only the leadership of the centre but also its future as an institution… Under such circumstances, we, signatories of this letter, are dissolving TCPD’s Scientific board.”

Signatories include Christophe Jaffrelot, Scientific Board Chair at TCPD; Francesa Jensenius, Professor of Political Science University of Ohio; Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science among others.