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One of the most important officials of the monastic college is the Abbot (Khenpo), in terms of religious and secular matters. The bursars (chagzoe) of the monastic college select a list of learned and accomplished Geshes. The list is sent to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and from this list His Holiness directly selects one as the Khenpo. The enthronement ceremony of the Khenpo is practiced in the traditional way. The term of abbotship is six years.

The main responsibility of the Khenpo is to look after the religious and secular matters of the monastic college. His religious responsibilities are: to supervise all of the religious gatherings in the monastic college, to teach Lamrim Chenmo (Detailed Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) during the evening religious festivals (Sochoe), to supervise the Geshe examinations and to maintain good discipline in the monastic college. His secular responsibilities are: to attend all important meetings related to the monastic college and to travel abroad for the sake of the monastic college. Before 1959, the Khenpo had the authority to directly select Lama Zhunglenpa (Assistant to the Khenpo), Disciplinarian and Chant Master. They are collectively called the Uchoesum. Now however, the Disciplinarian is elected by the monks, while the Assistant Khenpo and Chant Master are still directly appointed by the Khenpo.