Building a Foundation for Success
In today’s fast-changing world, an education leader is expected to be a visionary, a strategist, and a catalyst for change. They are responsible for shaping the educational landscape and preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. An effective education leader must possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, be adept at managing complex organizational structures, and have a deep understanding of the latest trends and innovations in education. They must also be able to navigate the ever-changing policy landscape and work collaboratively with stakeholders across a broad range of sectors. Thus, talking about one such education leader who heads the St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata as the Principal – Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ, dedicates himself towards promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to creating a culture of respect and mutual understanding.
Apart from heading the St. Xavier’s as the Principal, Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ currently holds another important position at St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, Alumni Association as their President. Prior to this, Father Savio served as the Rector of St. Xavier’s College and School from December 2013 to January 2020, and also held positions as the Former Vice Principal and Former Deputy Principal of St. Xavier’s College before taking on his current role.
Father Savio earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Joseph’s College in Trichy, and went on to obtain a Postgraduate degree and M.Phil. in Economics from Loyola College in Chennai, renowned for its Jesuit education in India. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Burdwan University and has conducted research in the areas of International Trade, International Economics, and Econometrics. Father Savio furthered his studies in Philosophy at ‘De Nobili’ and ‘JnanaDeepa’ in Pune and completed his Theology studies at ‘Vidyajyoti’ in Delhi. Also, Fr. Savio holds the position of Vice President & Secretary of the Governing Body of St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, and is a Governing Board Member of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata.
Roles and Responsibilities at St. Xavier’s
Always working towards becoming a proper leader who can motivate his team members and ensure every team member is a welcome part of the team, Fr. Savio is known for leading from the front. He always tries to be the first person to face challenges that come their way, treating his staff members as his extended family.
Ensuring quality education requires continuous upgrading of the knowledge base, at St. Xavier and his team work towards prioritizing the professional development of the faculty members by facilitating their participation in seminars, workshops, and other academic activities that address contemporary issues. “Additionally, we recognize the importance of research and publication in academic advancement, and therefore offer seed money to support research activities and cover the expenses of attending conferences and seminars”, Fr. Savio shares. “We also acknowledge the crucial role that support staff play in maintaining the institution’s seamless functioning, and hence organize regular development programs for them. Some of these training programs include ‘Proficiency in English Language’ and ‘Basic Computer Literacy’”, he continued.
Overcoming the Pandemic Phase
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the teachers and administration of the college to quickly adapt to online teaching methods to continue the teaching-learning process. To support students’ and teachers’ mental well-being during these difficult times, the college administration arranged online counseling sessions by professional psychiatrists. Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, also communicated regularly with students and staff through the college website to keep them informed and free from anxiety.
The college deferred the payment of tuition fees, which had an impact on the payment of staff salaries. To alleviate this burden, the college created a fund and disbursed full salaries to the staff on time. Additionally, the college’s rural campus at Raghabpur primarily caters to students from underprivileged families. The college extended a helping hand to these students and their families with the support of the Alumni Association, providing food and other essential items during the lockdown period.
The college also contributed to the fight against the pandemic by providing PPE kits, gloves, sanitizers, and other essential items to health workers. The college donated a sum of money to both the Prime Minister’s and Chief Minister’s funds to support the cause. Furthermore, the college’s Micro-Biology department prepared hand sanitizers for free distribution to support the community.
Personally for Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, pandemic was something to learn from, which he believes changed him a lot. He shares that he is a more compassionate person now, and also emphasizes more on the concept of holistic education.
Beyond St. Xavier’s
When Fr. Savio was asked to talk about his personal life he shared – “As a Jesuit Priest, I do not have a personal life as my days start with prayer and end with reflecting on my daily activities”. “It is essential for us to reflect on our actions to become better individuals. I strongly encourage my loved ones to lead a selfless life and acquire an education that empowers them to serve those in need”, he added.