(Chemistry department part of the Pharmacy College)

My first reaction to teaching at SU was, “Wow! What a difference from USA!!” But that is expected. The two countries could not be more polar. But there are certain things that I thought a university of this status and size, in this day and age, would have. Of course, I have not taught anywhere else in India. But I have gone to college here (25 years ago!) and I have been to Dev Sanskriti Vishv Vidyalay several times– but never taught there. All my teaching life has been in the USA.

Before anyone reads this I have to give a disclaimer first: I am not deliberately looking for negatives, I am not criticizing, I am just writing a comparison to my USA environment. I don’t wish to speak ill of anything or anyone. I am grateful for the experience I am earning.

Let’s talk classrooms first: The classroom was the first thing that shocked me. The chairs were the worst I have seen for sitting for any length of time. They are hard and go in so deep that students cannot rest their backs. They also make a screeching noise when moved on the floor. The other kind of chairs in another classroom were bolted to the floor and the seat flips up when students get up – but it hits the back with such noise. The boards are too small (for chemistry work) and worn out. Chalk that I got from the office spewed dust everywhere (I would have to buy the dustless myself – which I did). I had to also check out an eraser (duster) from the office. There is no place on the board to keep the duster and chalk. There also no good space for an instructor to keep the books/notes. The small lectern in the front is too small and slanted. Forget technology, it would be good if the lights would work in the classrooms.



My office: My office was very nice. One faculty member graciously moved to share office with another faculty member to accommodate me. I have a desk and chair. There is an electrical outlet. The only reason I am mentioning this is because they were installed only a few weeks ago! Until then there was only one outlet for 4 faculty! There is absolutely no privacy, but other than that, it’s a nice space. I do have a door that can be locked, but I don’t, nobody does except the HOD because of documents and of course, the computer.

Technology: Only HODs have computers and access to internet. No faculty have computers or Wifi access on campus. There are no computers or presentation equipment in any classroom. There might be a few rooms that have presentation capability, but no computer. I have not seen or used those classrooms.

The labs: The labs are new, just one semester old. They look great in their design, except one flaw – no hoods. Which in a modern lab, at least one or two hoods should have been incorporated. The labs are also large, I think for about 40 students, which is insane! Although I remember my RG College lab was like that too. But after teaching for so long, I now know that 20-24 student is the best number in a lab. Students here are not required to wear goggles or shoes. Safety is an issue in these labs for me. Chemicals are plenty and still being bought. So, labs are a work in progress.

The library: It is much smaller than I expected. I thought with programs up to Masters level in the sciences, the library would be well equipped with a variety of books, but the collection is fairly small. Most faculty just share books with each other. I also got one from the HOD and one from another faculty member.

The working hours: Now this is new to me. Faculty are expected to be on campus from 8:00-4:00 M-F and 8:00-2:00 on Sat, with a one hour lunch break. They have a biometric (finger print) machine and a register to sign in and out daily. The register is taken to the Dean’s office daily. For checking, I presume. In USA, I know staff sometimes have to do this, but never faculty. We teach and maintain our office hours and participate in university duties. But we can leave in the middle of the day if we want to. Not here. I think here the pay is docked if faculty are more than 15 mins late.

General cleanliness: This is definitely a positive. The buildings are cleaned constantly. There are huge hallways and many staircases, they are all kept clean. Including classrooms.

The restrooms: Thank goodness there are restrooms on each floor. Of course, some are dysfunctional – but still there is at least one in working condition.

Other stuff: There is an elevator as there are four floors above the ground floor (so five in US terms). It’s only for staff and faculty. Water is always there, for drinking also. Electricity is always on, they must have generators. There are guards on every gate – and there are so many gates!

My take on all this: My classrooms are on 3rd and 4th floors. I try to use the stairs instead of the lift, to go up and down just like the students. I carry my own chalk and duster and of cousre books. I never leave anything in the classroom. Even in my office I leave everything out of sight. During the colder days I would go out and sit in the sun for a while to warm up. Most offices have windows, but not all are in the direction of the sun.

My office happened to be the first office anyone saw when they entered the building. There was supposed be a person in the placed designed for the "Information" booth, but it was not staffed. So, I would generally get so many inquiries regarding location of people and offices and by end of March, I kind of knew where to direct them.