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A man for all seasons

  • Published at 09:59 pm May 17th, 2020
National Professor Jamilur Reza
National Professor Jamilur Reza Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury was a diplomat, adviser, thought-leader, campaigner, human rights stalwart, IT enthusiast -- and the list goes on

Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, fondly known as JRC, quietly passed away on April 28 in the midst of the Covid-19 turmoil. 

The nature of JRC’s departure epitomized his character -- unassuming, peaceful, and gentle.  

Sanaul Mostafa served as the director of the Business School and Manzoor Hasan was the Executive Director of Institute of Governance Studies (IGS, presently BIGD) during JRC’s tenure as VC of Brac University. 

Perception

During admission tests, a significant number of guardians anxiously wait for their children. We took the opportunity to take straw polls to learn from the parents the reasons for choosing Brac university as opposed to other private universities.  

A significant number of them informed us that JRC was the main pull factor. 

The same reason applied to mid-career civil servants who joined the Master’s program at IGS. 

As JRC’s colleagues, we strongly felt that we couldn’t let him down given the high expectations of students and parents alike. We believe that this will be echoed by others without exception. JRC stood as a lighthouse showing the path of integrity and transparency.

Quick decision-maker

JRC was a listener par excellence. JRC believed in preparation, and he expected others to do the same. 

Our meetings with him used to be most satisfying and productive because of his patient hearing and focused deliberation.  

We remember many occasions when he accepted good arguments but there were many more examples when he convinced us with his reasons. 

He was very much a peace-maker.If there was any need for information, he was quick to google or ring on his smartphone. JRC epitomized efficiency.

Systemic thinker

Even though he was a civil engineer, JRC possessed enormous knowledge of other subjects. He was a classic generalist and a multidisciplinary thinker. JRC built bridges, universities, think tanks, organizations, and networks. 

Brac University’s firm foundation was laid by JRC as he quietly mentored the students and faculty during those formative years.

A man for all seasons

JRC was a diplomat, adviser, thought-leader, campaigner, human rights stalwart, IT enthusiast -- and the list can continue.  

If there was a candidate to be bestowed “man for all seasons,” JRC will certainly be a prime nominee. 

JRC’s enigmatic smile is permanently etched in our memory. 

Dr Sanaul Mostafa is Former Director, Brac Business School, and Manzoor Hasan is Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University.

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