“We are here to achieve nothing less than excellence, and we will do it. ‘Stop not until the goal is achieved’ – that is our aim. The Dhempe flag is already flying high, but let’s take it to greater heights…”
The words, imbued with a robust authority, reverberated across the hall. The occasion was the annual social gathering of Dhempe College of Arts and Science. These words of the principal Dr Yasmin Modassir stirred the hearts of the mixed audience of members from the management of Dempo Charities Trust, teaching faculty and students. They had come to recognise her as a visionary who could translate dreams into reality.
She tirelessly set goals and went about achieving them with unrelenting élan. She was a leader who guided Dhempe College towards several landmark achievements in her glorious tenure first as a faculty member and later as the principal. Born in Lucknow, Dr Modassir studied zoology and received her doctorate in 1980 from Aligarh Muslim University.
She undertook several research projects and presented and published several papers over a span of 39 years. She was a recipient of Senior Research Fellowship and Post Doctoral Fellowship of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Owing to her illustrious research experience, she was nominated as an external examiner for evaluation of PhD thesis by St Andrews University, Scotland and Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Cochin.
Awards and laurels came in abundance as well. In 2007, she was conferred Fellowship of the Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Technology for outstanding contribution for furthering knowledge systems in service of the society to improve the quality of life of people. In 2002, she received the Environmentalist of the Year Award for outstanding contribution in the field of environmental biology by International Board of Awards of National Environmental Science Academy, India.
Joining Dhempe College of Arts and Science as a faculty member in 1981, she worked her way up to the position of the head of the department of zoology in 1996.
Due to her multidimensional ability, she was appointed as vice principal in 2003. Under her able leadership as the NAAC coordinator in early 2010, the college succeeded in achieving ‘A’ grade accreditation with a benchmark score of 3.12.
She believed in imparting beyond-curriculum knowledge and added significantly to the research culture.
She took over as the first lady principal in the latter part of 2010. She succeeded in bringing the crème de la crème of academic and cultural circles to the institution as chief guests and resource persons.
After the success of NAAC accreditation, her remarkable achievement was getting College with Potential for Excellence awarded by the University Grants Commission.
She loved plants and flowers and managed to turn small barren patches at her residence into vibrant gardens. Owing to this innate love, the Dhempe College saw a green facelift which was appreciated by the NAAC peer team. Her colleagues recall her as a multi-faceted persona – a strict disciplinarian, a skilled planner, a successful performer and a high achiever.
She was guide of more than eighty faculty of the college.
She was a natural team leader and insisted on perfection. She was practical and realist in her approach to both life and work. She had great problem solving skills.
On September 30, 2016 when she retired as the principal, the management, staff and students of the college bid her farewell with a heavy heart telling her that they would be always approaching her for her insightful advice.
On October 5, 2016 when she departed from this world, she left everyone in deep shock and grief.
Her absence has left a void. She left behind her a string of achievements and unforgettable memories for everyone who came in association with her.
She will be forever remembered as a multidimensional personality, a devoted academician, a determined team worker, an incredible achiever, a relentless perfectionist, a passionate researcher and a visionary leader. Above everything, she will be remembered as a wonderful human being – a friend, a guide, a mentor, a motivator, a role model who helped people rediscover themselves and their hidden talents.
Kobe Bryant once said that heroes come and go, but legends live forever.
Dr Yasmin Modassir is a legend whose magnanimous dignity will live on forever.
(This homage is from the teaching staff of the Dhempe College of Arts and Science)