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Professor Raj Srinivasan is the head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Science. (Photo by Chris Putnam)

College of Arts and Science professor to be recognized with internationalization award

Raj Srinivasan has ensured an exchange of students, faculty and administrators between the U of S and Indian institutions

News

By Shannon Boklaschuk

Professor Raj Srinivasan has been selected to receive the J.W. George Ivany Internationalization Award—an honour that will be bestowed upon him during Fall Convocation later this month.

The University of Saskatchewan established the J.W. George Ivany Internationalization Award to recognize the exceptional contributions of a faculty member or administrator toward the internationalization objectives of the university. It is named after J.W. George Ivany, during whose presidency the U of S formalized its commitment to internationalization.

The award recipient receives a plaque and a $1,000 award at Fall Convocation. The money can be applied to any activity promoting internationalization for the U of S.

Srinivasan is the head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Science. His focus has been on India, seeking to build linkages between U of S faculty, students and administrators with their counterparts at leading Indian academic institutions through summer workshops, undergraduate internships, faculty exchange and collaborative teaching.

When asked how he felt upon learning he would receive the award, Srinivasan said “I was very thrilled that the university recognized my contributions.” In particular, he noted he was pleased that his colleagues and friends who nominated him for the award, such as English professors Lisa Vargo and David Parkinson, believed he has made significant contributions to the university’s internationalization efforts.

“I was quite pleased, because they put a lot of effort (into it)—and I was thrilled to see that internationalization at the College of Arts and Science has been recognized at the university level,” said Srinivasan, noting he and others have been working on a coordinated effort at the college level.

Vargo said it was a pleasure to nominate Srinivasan for the award, describing the breadth and depth of his efforts as “nothing short of extraordinary.”

“Professor Srinivasan has excelled in ensuring a two-way exchange of students, faculty and administrators between the U of S and Indian institutions. He has played an active role in the signing of a number of memoranda of understanding between the U of S and Indian universities. He has served on a number of U of S delegations to India, and in which he took the lead in organizing and in setting the agenda,” said Vargo.

“Aside from these administrative roles, he also was generous with his time, often acting as tour guide, translator and the person U of S delegation members relied upon for general assistance. I know from my own experience from three visits to India that Professor Srinivasan is indispensable with his knowledge of Indian languages, customs and the working of Indian universities. He is also very patient and is willing to share his knowledge of India and ensure his U of S colleagues have a positive experience when they are there.”

Srinivasan received his Bachelor of Applied Sciences in 1978 and his Master of Science in Applied Sciences in 1980 at colleges in India. Starting in 1980, he pursued his PhD from IIT Bombay for two years before moving to Canada. He received a master’s degree in statistics from Carleton University in 1982 and his PhD from Carleton University, in the area of applied probability, in 1988—the same year he came to the U of S as a faculty member.

Because of Srinivasan’s efforts, the U of S has gained a “privileged status” in India as it now boasts reciprocal ties to a large number of prestigious universities and research institutes across the country, said Vargo. Amongst them are: the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneshwar; the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), Gujarat; the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; the Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur (MNIT); Anna University, Chennai; Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore; Karunya Institute of Science and Technology, Coimbatore; and Banasthali University, Rajasthan.

Vargo said one of Srinivasan’s major accomplishments is the establishment of SURI, the Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative in the College of Arts and Science, with Professor David Parkinson. In the summer of 2018, more than 40 students from IITGN and the Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur applied for the summer program. The available spots were boosted from 10 in 2017 to 15 in 2018 to accommodate some of the soaring demand.

“SURI is a flagship program which connects outstanding engineering students from India with research across the College of Arts and Science’s full disciplinary and interdisciplinary scope,” said Vargo.

“The students from IITGN and MNIT come to the U of S and work with faculty on research projects. Funding is shared by the college, the Indian home university and the faculty researcher. Indian students gain valuable experience working outside of India. The 2018 SURI program repeated the successes of the inaugural program in 2017 and Professor Srinivasan instituted a poster competition through which the participants shared their research.”

Parkinson said the “time was right” to nominate Srinivasan for the internationalization award, particularly as SURI and the IITGN/U of S summer institutes are “showing significant results.” Each of the initiatives has developed because of Srinivasan’s efforts, resourcefulness and persuasiveness, and the U of S may reap the benefits of the projects for many years, Parkinson added.

“Raj Srinivasan has, more than any colleague, put the university as a whole on the map for some of the top tier of post-secondary research institutions in India. As a result of the initiatives he has envisioned and led, students from IIT Gandhinagar, for example, are increasingly identifying the U of S as a prime destination for graduate studies,” he said.

“This is an extraordinary achievement, one that does not come about solely through diplomacy and administrative good intentions. Engaging with academic leaders in India, Raj is the master of relationship-building. Here on campus, he is the determined, eloquent advocate for international engagement as the prime engine of institutional development.”

Vargo added that she is “one of many people in the College of Arts and Science who can say that Professor Srinivasan has given me India.”

“I have benefited as a teacher and as a global citizen from my participation in two IITGN summer institutes and with exploring cross-cultural teaching with a colleague at Ahmedabad University,” said Vargo, referring to the Project in International Collaborative Teaching (PICT) that began in 2017.

“I have gained Indian colleagues and experienced the joys of teaching Indian students who are devoted to making their country and the world a better place. I have learned about the many strengths of Indian universities and the spiritual culture of India. I do not think I am alone in appreciating how thorough his efforts have been. Professor Srinivasan has changed my life and made it that much fuller; through his initiatives, I have become more committed to my work as an academic.”



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