Indian-American professor Rakesh Khurana has been appointed Dean of the prestigious Harvard College, becoming the latest addition to a long list of Indian-origin academicians assuming leadership roles at renowned global universities. Khurana, 46, is currently the ‘Marvin Bower’ Professor of Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School (HBS), Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and Co-master of Cabot House at Harvard.
He succeeds Evelynn Hammonds, Professor of History of Science and of African and African American Studies at Harvard, and will assume his new role on July 1 this year. Harvard College is the school within Harvard University that grants undergraduate degrees. Khurana earned his Ph.D through a joint programme between HBS and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1998. Harvard president Drew Faust describes Khurana as a “Faculty leader who embodies the interconnectedness of Harvard. His experiences as a graduate student, an award-winning teacher at HBS, and the master of an undergraduate house give him a unique perspective on the university, and his deep respect for the liberal-arts model and residential education will serve him well as he guides Harvard College … ”
Following the announcement, Khurana said he is “honoured” to have the opportunity to serve the college and work with the faculty, students, and staff to create a “transformative educational experience for our students. I am convinced that, working together, we will have a significant and positive impact on the college.” Although Khurana did not attend the college himself, he said, “One of the benefits of being a house master is that you get a window view into student experiences.” FAS Dean Michael Smith, who announced the appointment in an email to the FAS community, praised Khurana as a scholar and teacher with deep experience working with undergraduates and a strong commitment to the college.
He said Khurana is a “distinguished scholar of organisational behavior and leadership, and a dynamic house master who has also deeply engaged with undergraduate issues on important committees. He brings to the deanship an intimate understanding of the Harvard College experience … ” Harvard Business School’s India-born Dean Nitin Nohria also welcomed Khurana’s appointment saying his selection is a testament to his skill and vision as a teacher and scholar. “I think the appointment is wonderful news, and I am looking forward to working with Rakesh to identify and strengthen efforts across the College and HBS that will benefit us all,” Nohria added.