Who is 2023 Immigrant Achievement Award receiver Indian-American Neeli Bendapudi?
The award recognises individuals that exhibit commitment and dedication to our heritage as a nation of immigrants.
Indian-American Neeli Bendapudi, the president of Penn State University, will be receiving the American Immigration Council's 2023 Immigrant Achievement Award, the Council stated in a press release on Monday.
The award recognises "individuals or organisations that exhibit a commitment and dedication to our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to the struggle for fair and humane immigration policies in the United States”, it said.
The award will be presented at the DC Immigrant Achievement Awards reception on April 28 in Washington.
Executive Director of the American Immigration Council Jeremy Robbins said, “For nearly 30 years, Penn State President Dr Neeli Bendapudi’s career in higher education has been committed to student success, fostering inclusive excellence, and creating opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to thrive. She is a values-driven leader who believes strongly in the transformative power of higher education and its impact on individuals and communities.”
He further said, “As an immigrant and trailblazer, she has spent years navigating the lack of diversity in leadership and the challenges confronting minority groups. This year we are thrilled to commemorate Dr. Bendapudi for embodying the diverse contributions generations of immigrants bring to this nation and as a testament to the enduring power of our country’s immigrant history.”
Who is Neeli Bendapudi?
Neeli Bendapudi was raised in India and she moved to the University of Kansas in the United States for her doctoral studies. She planned to launch her career in academics as an educator.
As per the release, Bendapudi is the first woman and the first person of colour who has served as Penn State University’s president “where she oversees the university’s modern land-grant mission of teaching, research, and public service across twenty-four campuses and the online Penn State World Campus”.
Bendapudi did her Bachelors in English and her MBA from Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, India. She then did her doctorate in Marketing from University of Kansas.
Bendapudi was appointed the 19th President of Penn State University in 2022. Earlier, she was the President of University of Louisville from 2018 to 2021.
According to the release, “Under her leadership, the university [of Louisville] recruited its largest and most diverse freshman class, reached record enrollment levels, improved four-year graduation rates, increased annual sponsored research, improved the university's financial stability, and stabilized its health system.”
Bendapudi, after joining Penn State, has focused on five major goals for the institution. These include “enhancing student success; growing the University’s interdisciplinary research excellence; increasing Penn State’s land-grant impact; fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; and transforming the University’s internal operations”.
The release states, “She is guided by a commitment to academic preparedness that equips students for life-long professional and personal success, a dedication to fostering a sense of belonging for all members of the Penn State community, and a focus on access and affordability as a key component of the University’s land-grant mission.”
Bendapudi has been recognised and awarded several times for her contributions on national and university levels.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education had referenced Bendapudi among 25 women who had made a difference in the Academy.
Louisville Business First had mentioned Bendapudi among the ‘Most Admired CEOs’ for “strong leadership exhibited during a year of unprecedented challenges”.
Neeli Bendapudi’s reaction to the award
On the news of her receiving the award, as per the press release by the American Immigration Council, Bendapudi said, “I am deeply honoured to be named the recipient of this year’s Immigrant Achievement Award and equally humbled to be among such prestigious past honorees, each of whom reflects the importance and impact of immigration within our nation. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and I am merely one of many who have come to this country in search of America’s ‘golden door’ to opportunity and prosperity.”
She further added, “As the president of one of our nation’s renowned land-grant universities, I am committed to expanding access to the transformative power of higher education for all students who are ready to learn — including those who, like me, have come to this country to seek their degrees in the hopes of building a better life for themselves and a brighter future for their families. Immigration, truly, is a cornerstone of the American dream, and I am grateful to the American Immigration Council for its work to help make this dream a reality for immigrants from across the globe.”