Soumitra Dutta, who will assume charge as the new dean of Cornell University's management school on July 1, takes pride in being an IITian. Although opening a campus in India does not figure in his immediate plans, Dutta wants to build stronger links with researchers and thinkers in India as part of a grand strategy to take Cornell to the world, and bring the world to Cornell.
With this, Dutta will join a growing club of Indian-origin academicians who head prestigious universities in the United States. He will probably be the first person from the country to head Cornell University.
Stating that Delhi IIT helped him develop his true potential, Dutta said: "The excellence of its faculty and curriculum helped me develop critical thinking and analysis skills."
Speaking on the confrontation between government and IITs over the change in JEE, he said: "The faculty and alumni of an educational institution are best placed to make decisions on the format of academic programmes and their entry criteria. The government is an important supporter of the IITs and has an important interest in seeing the institutions grow stronger. However, this is best achieved by working in partnership with IIT faculty and alumni, and developing a common understanding and framework for action."
For now, Dutta wants to expand the reach of Cornell, and bring it closer to India – among other countries. "Cornell is fortunate in being able to attract some of the best Indian students and faculty to its campus in New York. There is a lot more that Cornell can do in India, and I will focus on bringing Cornell's excellence in faculty and educational programmes to India."
Even though India has pockets of excellence in education, a lot more needs to be done, Dutta said. "I am especially concerned about improving the level of research excellence within Indian educational institutions. I will aim to develop stronger links with India with the goal of improving research norms and culture in Indian institutions."