President Lawrence visits Indian alums, educators

Speaks of liberal arts opportunities at Brandeis for Indian students

Photo/Mukunda De

President Lawrence, former Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee and Professor Harleen Singh at a public forum in Delhi last year.

Brandeis President Fred Lawrence has visited India for the second time in 11 months, meeting with alumni, students, prospective students and friends as the University strengthens relationships and furthers partnerships with the people and institutions of the world’s largest democracy through the Brandeis-India Initiative.

Accompanied by Harleen Singh, the Helaine and Alvin Allen Assistant Professor of Literature and co-chair of the South Asia Studies Program, and his wife, Dr. Kathy Lawrence, the president met with dozens of members of the Brandeis family in India at receptions in Delhi and Mumbai in early January.

“India is a natural partner for Brandeis as we seek to establish relationships with institutions around the world as a global liberal arts university,” Lawrence said. “The opportunities for collaboration in India are numerous, particularly in areas such as scientific research, student and faculty exchanges and social justice.”

More than 200 Brandeis alumni live in India, some of whom work in sustainable development and social justice. For example, Devika Mahadevan ’00 serves as CEO of Mumbai Mobile Creches, a nonprofit organization that promotes the health and welfare of children of migrant workers growing up on construction sites in India. She was recognized for her work when she received the Brandeis Alumni Achievement Award in 2010.

Lawrence also met with secondary education leaders who are helping Brandeis recruit top-quality students from India. The Indian system of higher education features general degree programs in arts, commerce and science and professional degree programs in engineering, law and medicine, but there are limited opportunities for students interested in the liberal arts (literature, languages, philosophy and history).

“Our model of education – an intimate, student-centered liberal arts college as part of a global university – is not widely available in India,” Lawrence said. “Something such as a double major, which we take as a given, is a huge opportunity for Indian students with varied interests.”

About 60 students from India are part of the Brandeis undergraduate student body. Dozens of Indian graduate students attend the Brandeis International Business School and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

The president also spent time with Yahel Vilan, the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in India.

Lawrence made his first trip to India as Brandeis’ president in February 2012, when he accompanied a group of professors and administrators to explore collaborations in the sciences with leading Indian research institutions, including the Indian Institute of Science and the National Centre for Biological Sciences.

During that trip, Lawrence also spoke at a public forum with former Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee G ’10, a renowned human-rights lawyer and free-speech advocate, on justice in diverse societies.

“We enjoyed our trip and look forward to continuing to broaden and deepen our relationships through the Brandeis-India Initiative,” Lawrence said.

Categories: Alumni, International Affairs, Student Life

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