Currently on a prolonged sabbatical in India, Dr. Sunder Ramaswamy, distinguished professor of international economics at Middlebury College (MC), USA, is the newly appointed vice chancellor of Krea University (KU), a greenfield liberal arts and science private university assuming shape and form across a 200-acre campus in SriCity, Andhra Pradesh.
Established under the Andhra Pradesh Private Universities (Establishment and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2018, this first private liberal arts university in peninsular India is promoted by a host of eminent academics, industrialists and philanthropists with an investment of Rs.750 crore, and backed by the Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, and philanthropic contributions from several of its distinguished 16-member governing council. Among them: N. Vaghul, former chairman of ICICI Bank Ltd; Kapil Viswanathan, co-founder of the Chennai-based Lumina Datamatics Ltd and president of IFMR; and Raghuram Rajan, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
Newspeg. The wholly residential KU is scheduled to begin operations in August 2019 with admissions for its first batch of 100-125 undergraduate students commencing this month. This batch will initially be housed in the 40-acre campus of IFMR in SriCity and will shift to KU’s own 200-acre state-of-the-art campus next door in 2021. KU will offer three-year undergrad programmes in the liberal arts and sciences with the option to complete advanced studies in the fourth year. The annual tuition fee for Indian students is Rs.6.5 lakh and Rs.13 lakh for international students.
History. An economics alum of Delhi University with a Ph D from Purdue, USA, Ramaswamy began his career as an assistant professor of economics at Middlebury College in 1990. After brief sabbaticals at Vanderbilt University, IFMR, Chennai and Madras Institute of Development Studies (1992-1995), he was appointed chair of Middlebury’s department of economics (1996-2003) followed by two stints as director of the Madras School of Economics (2004-2005 and 2015-2017). Subsequently, he served as vice chancellor of IFMR, Chennai, for a year before he was appointed the first vice chancellor of Krea in March this year.
Direct talk. “The unique proposition of Krea University are our liberal arts and science curriculums designed by an 11-member academic council of erudite scholars and professors, which offers multi-disciplinary interwoven learning programmes. They comprise six components — core, skill and concentration courses, electives, experiential internships/projects, interdisciplinary core courses and capstone thesis. Together with co-curricular programmes, they are designed to transform students into critical thinkers and creative and action-oriented learners,” says Ramaswamy.
Future plans. Clearly inspired by the development model of the private, crowd-funded Ashoka University, (estb.2014), KU’s stellar cast promoters have ambitious plans for shaping peninsular India’s first private liberal arts and science university. “In KU, how students learn will be more important than what they learn. Our objective is to make a meaningful contribution to India’s higher education system by providing redesigned 21st century arts and science curriculums, and enabling students to choose from a large number of electives. This combination will empower them to choose any career path and emerge as leaders in the fast changing world,” says Ramaswamy.
Wind beneath your wings!
Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)