Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit was on Monday appointed as the vice chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Union education ministry has said in an order. She has been appointed to the post for five years, the ministry said in its order dated February 4.

Pandit is currently the vice chancellor of Pune’s Savitribai Phule University. At the Jawaharlal Nehru University, she will replace M Jagadeesh Kumar, who was last week appointed as the chairperson of the University Grants Commission.

Pandit will be the first female vice chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Kumar said in a press note.

Kumar’s tenure as the vice chancellor of the university had been marred by several controversies, including the 2016 sedition row and the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, an Master of Science student who was allegedly beaten up by students from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

The JNU administration under Kumar had also come under intense scrutiny after a mob entered the campus and attacked students and teachers with sticks and iron rods in 2020.

A Congress fact-finding committee that inquired into the violence alleged that Kumar was the “mastermind” behind the attack and called for his immediate dismissal. He was also criticised for his handling of protests by students over a hostel fee hike proposal.

In 2020, Kumar’s nomination as the head of a panel to pick Madras University’s vice chancellor had also sparked a political row in Tamil Nadu. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin had alleged that it was an attempt to “saffronise” educational institutions in the state.

“JNU saw a brutal attack on its students even while its vice chancellor [M Jagadesh Kumar] watched on and displayed negligence,” Stalin had said.