St. Xavier's College, Mumbai
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St. Xavier's College strives to form men and women who will build a more just and humane world. It strives for an intellectual endeavour that focuses on critical and creative thinking, with the aim of social transformation.
Academic Input: 4
Student Care: 4
Perceptual Rank: 4
Factual Rank: 9
The college always had a Jesuit priest as principal from 1869 to 2015.
2003-2015: Fr Frazer Mascarenhas
Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, during his stint, supported social activists Binayak Sen and Arun Ferreira, who were charged with Naxalism; he chastised his student, Shiv Sena's Aditya Thackeray, after the Sena's youth wing burned copies of a book that critiqued the party; and before the 2014 general elections wrote to his students cautioning them against voting for a model of development that he claimed privileged growth over social justice.
It was during his tenure that Xavier's became Mumbai's first autonomous college for arts and science. Autonomy allowed the college freedom to design its own syllabus and method of evaluation.
2015: Agnelo Menezes
June 2015: For the first time St Xavier's College was headed by a non-priest: Agnelo Menezes, a hugely popular economics professor at the institution. Menezes (born: 1957), is the son of a clerk who doubled as a carpenter at St Paul's Church in Dadar, Menezes grew up in the chawls of Parel in central Mumbai.
He worked his way out of poverty through a single-minded focus on his education.
Menezes is known to hold forth on an array of subjects in the college canteen.
Menezes was too shy to enter the canteen while in his first year as a student at St Xavier's. He credits poet and writer Eunice de Souza, a former teacher at the college, for having helped him develop self-confidence as a student.
After graduating from the college, he returned to the institution as a teacher. After five years, he took a break and joined the Jesuit order. However, he could not deal with the religious rigour it entailed and chose, instead, to return to teaching. He spent 19 years as an economics professor in Dr T K Tope Night College for underprivileged students.
2018: Rajendra Shinde, first non-Christian
For the first time in 150 years, one of Mumbai’s iconic colleges, St Xavier’s, will have a non-Christian as its principal. Rajendra Shinde, currently head of the college’s botany department, will assume charge as the institution’s 24th principal on September 1.
This possibly makes Xavier’s the only topline Christian college in India to get a non-Christian head. Neither St Stephen’s in Delhi nor St Xavier’s in Kolkata nor the Madras Christian College (MCC) have had principals from outside the community.
Since its inception, the iconic south Mumbai college has had 22 Jesuit priests as principals. In 2015, Agnelo Menezes became its first non-Jesuit principal.
A Nerul resident, the principal designate Shinde (55) has been associated with the college for 35 years. From being an herbarium curator at the college for almost 10 years since 1983, he went on to become vice-principal in 2011 (his term as vice-principal ended in 2017). Shinde’s appointment also comes in the landmark 150th year in which the college is aiming to attain university status.
For Shinde, the appointment has come as a pleasant surprise. “The management has sent a strong message of inclusion by appointing me as principal in its 150th year. My appointment has paved the path for my colleagues and juniors in the future...,” he said.
Coming from a modest railways employees’ family from Nashik, Shinde completed his primary education in Odha village near Nashik. The village had only one school at that time. He moved to Mumbai in 1978 to pursue his junior college from St Stanislaus. After completing BSc in botany in 1983, he joined St Xavier’s as herbarium curator. During this period, he completed his MSc. Shinde has worked on various academic and nonacademic bodies at the college since 1991.