Returning the Favour: Prof. R K Shevgaonkar to take over as the new Director of IIT Delhi
Returning the Favour
R K Shevgaonkar to take over as the new Director of IIT Delhi
Some years ago an erstwhile Dean of Alumni Affairs from IIT Delhi, Prof Ashok Misra had come to IIT Bombay as its new Director. IIT Bombay is now happy to return the favour with its own alumnus, Prof R.K Shevgaonkar ( Ph.D Electrical Engineering, 1985), who will now replace outgoing director Surendra Prasad as the new director of IIT-Delhi. On lien for the last 18 months from the Institute, when he took over as the Vice Chancellor of University of Pune; Prof Shevgaonkar's association with IIT Bombay has spanned over two decades. From 1990 when he joined as Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay, he has held many positions- Head of Department, Dean- Resource Mobilization, Deputy Director- Finance and External Affairs, with distinction. In the last two positions he also had occasion to interact with IIT Bombay alumni extensively. We met with him briefly in an effort to chronicle some of the past history as well as find out more about his plans for the future.
One of the major strengths of the IIT system is the fact that most decisions are taken rationally based on merit. The Pune University has something in abundance that we at IIT Bombay lack- a large presence of international students. International presence in our campus should increase as it has great benefits for the student community in terms of exposure to a more multicultural experience and broadening student perspectives. In one-and-a-half years that I have been at Pune, I think my biggest achievements have been to start a course on human rights, initiatives for improvement of university staffers work experience and examination reforms and above all starting the new integrated M.Tech- PhD course in Technology.
Q. Your views on key areas of improvement for the Office of Dean Alumni and Corporate Relations?
The Alumni Relations office needs a more focused approach and should have full time fund raising and communications team, and alumni coordinators from all the batches should be invited to take part in them. In addition, there should be one or two persons from the department deployed categorically for liaising with alumni. Our office also needs to define targets and TAT (Turn around Time) for projects on priority. There has to be one full year’s preparation before launching a new fund raising campaign and this vision should percolate across departments so that all of IITB speak in a uniform language. This is needed to shift focus from just being an academic institution to a level of independent, resourceful, focused world class Technology Institution.
Alumni volunteers and donors need to be continuously kept in the loop and well informed about progress within the Institute as well as progress in alumni funded projects. Today, corporates and alumni are extremely sensitive about ‘blocking the flow of capital’ but proper reporting and continuous communication flow can address this issue effectively. In light of the recession in the global economy there will be increased reluctance to park large sums of money with the Institute. To deal with the situation, the IITs need to put their efforts toward encouraging recurring medium and small donations from a larger pool of donors. The endowment model needs change as it offers no tax benefits for the donors.
Q. Something that you would like to focus on as Director of IIT Delhi?
IITs need to focus more on relevant research and forge deeper bonds with industry. In other words we should be doing more on time bound, industry specified, applied research. A logical corollary to this is the fact that there should be more multidisciplinary programmes as industry related problems are always multi-faceted. These are some of the things that I would also like to focus on while in Delhi.
An engineer turned administrator with more than 140 papers published in International Journals and Conferences, there is an almost indefinable air of suppressed energy in Prof Shevgaonkar, as if he has new challenges to encounter and mountains to scale. Very few know that he also has a Bachelor’s of Music in Hindustani Classical Music. But with an M. Tech from IIT Kanpur and a Ph. D from IIT Bombay and then a long stint here as teacher, mentor and administrator, IIT “is in his blood” as he himself confesses We wish him the best of luck for his new tenure and hope that he renders both IIT Delhi as well as IIT Bombay proud.