(July 25, 2023) The last few weeks have seen the appointment of several Indian Americans as the heads of various reputed education institutions. Interestingly, the Indian diaspora, on a broader scale, is garnering growing recognition for its exceptional prowess in the realm of education. Noteworthy instances abound, with scholars of Indian origin assuming prestigious leadership roles in renowned institutions such as Harvard Business School, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University. In recent years, this trend has become increasingly prominent, with notable Indians assuming the helm of some of the most esteemed and expansive educational establishments worldwide.
Indian Americans have assumed leadership positions in over a dozen prominent universities within the United States alone. Considering that this community constitutes barely one percent of the entire U.S. population, such a remarkable representation potentially signals the advent of an emerging trend. Global Indian puts the spotlight on some of the most prominent Indian personalities currently making significant strides in the global education sector.
Professor Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Cal Poly Pomona
An esteemed alumnus of IIT Mumbai, Professor Sandeep Krishnamurthy has recently assumed the prestigious position of Singelyn Family Dean at the College of Business Administration and Singelyn Graduate School of Business at Cal Poly Pomona. His academic journey includes a post-graduate diploma in business management from Xavier School of Management in Jamshedpur, followed by a Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Arizona.
In 1996, Dr. Krishnamurthy joined the esteemed faculty at UW (University of Washington) and, in 2009, took on the role of director for the business program. He dedicated himself to elevating the program to the stature of a separate school, a goal achieved in 2012 when he was appointed as the founding dean. Throughout his illustrious 25-year tenure at UW Bothell, he has achieved numerous significant milestones and has become a well-known figure not only on campus but also within the regional business community.
In June 2023, Professor Krishnamurthy took on the leadership role at one of the largest business schools in the United States of America. Beyond his institutional contributions, he is recognised as a published author, sought-after conference speaker, expert witness, and media commentator. Notably, he has also initiated three highly regarded speaker series – Meet the CEO, Frontiers of Global Business, and the Nintex Leadership Breakfast Series – which have become prominent events on the local business calendar.
Professor Renu Khator, University of Houston
In 1973, a young Renu embarked on a journey from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, to Purdue University, where she pursued her master’s degree in political science. Although initially fraught with nervousness, she gradually discovered her true potential and, in subsequent years, earned both her doctorate in political science and her doctorate in public administration in 1975 and 1985, respectively.
From 1985 onwards, the scholar commenced a distinguished 22-year tenure at the University of South Florida, where she held a series of increasingly prominent roles, culminating in her appointment as provost and senior vice president of the institution. In 2007, she emerged as the sole-finalist for the prestigious dual-position as chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston, eventually becoming the third individual to simultaneously hold these esteemed roles.
As chancellor of the University of Houston System, the scholar bears the responsibility of overseeing four distinguished institutions of higher learning, collectively catering to nearly 71,000 students. Under her watch, the University has experienced a transformative period of growth, marked by a remarkable $1-billion campus construction program, which has given rise to impressive developments such as the 40,000-seat TDECU Stadium, an expansion of student residence hall capacity to accommodate 8,000 students and an $80-million expansion and renovation of the student center.
Renu’s remarkable achievements have not gone unnoticed, as she has been inducted into the prestigious Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and has received the esteemed Excellence in Leadership Awards from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the President of the Year Award from the Association of College Unions International, and the President’s Award from the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators. In a momentous recognition of her contributions to the global Indian community, the scholar was bestowed the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the President of India, Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, the highest honour accorded to overseas Indians.
Professor Vishal Gaur, Cornell School of Management
His journey began when even as a child, he found happiness in teaching and educating his peers. That journey still continues. The IIT Delhi alumnus Vishal Gaur was named as the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in Cornell University in May 2023.
As associate dean for MBA programs from 2014-19, the scholar launched the Digital Technology Immersion, in which MBA candidates and students earning their MPS in data science or applied statistics develop skills in coding, databases, and advanced analytics and learn to leverage them to tackle challenges faced by leading companies, according to the university release.
The scholar also created the Master of Science in Business Analytics program offered through eCornell, which provides working professionals a hands-on opportunity to learn about data analytics tools essential to analysing and optimising business decisions. His research focuses on data-driven analysis of problems in supply chains, retailing, e-commerce, and marketplace operations, and his work was recognised with the Wickham Skinner Early Career Research Accomplishments Award from the Production and Operations Management Society in 2006, the release stated.
Professor Subra Suresh, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Having graduated from the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Professor Subra Suresh earned a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University in 1979. Following his postdoctoral research tenure at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he assumed the position of Assistant Professor of Engineering at Brown University in December 1983.
The scholar’s contributions in his field garnered him distinguished recognition, notably the prestigious NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, an accolade bestowed upon him by the White House. Additionally, he was honored with the 1982 Hardy Medal, lauding his exceptional promise for a prosperous career in the expansive domain of metallurgy as a metallurgist under the age of 30. Moreover, the American Ceramic Society bestowed upon him the 1992 Ross Coffin Purdy Award in recognition of the best paper published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society in 1990.
In June 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Professor Subra to assume the role of Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a prestigious appointment that received unanimous confirmation from the U.S. Senate in September of the same year. As the head of the NSF, an independent federal agency with a substantial annual budget of $7 billion, the scholar’s leadership was marked by a profound commitment to scientific integrity and the advancement of technological benefits for the American people. Furthermore, he actively championed increased opportunities for women, minorities, and underrepresented groups in the field of science and engineering.
At present, Professor Subra holds the esteemed position of President at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Under his visionary stewardship, the scholar has initiated a transformative endeavor to develop the NTU campus into a cutting-edge “smart” campus, replete with eco-friendly structures, integration of robotics, and the implementation of driverless electric buses. His tireless efforts continue to leave a lasting impact on the realms of education and technological advancement.