Signing the Memorandum of Understanding, left to right, are Kalyan Chakravarti, dean of the Gupta School of Management at IIT Kharagpur; IIT Kharagpur Director Shishir K. Dube; USC Provost Lloyd Armstrong Jr., and C. L. Max Nikias, dean of the USC Viterbi School.
In a brief ceremony, USC Provost Lloyd Armstrong, Jr., Viterbi School of Engineering Dean C. L. Max Nikias, IIT Kharagpur’s Director Shishir K. Dube, and Dean Kalyan Chakravarti, who oversees IIT Kharagpur’s Vinod Gupta School of Management, signed their names on a formal agreement establishing the partnership.
“At the Viterbi School, we already enjoy extremely strong ties to India and its vastly creative engineering community,” Nikias said. “Our Indian students, alumni and faculty have been essential to our progress.
“Now we are taking our relationship a giant step forward,” he continued. “Our alliance with IIT Kharagpur cements our ties with the oldest, largest and most diversified of the IITs.”
Internationalization and globalization will play a more prominent role in USC’s new Strategic Plan, which will be presented to the USC Trustees in October, Armstrong said. The plan calls for building strategic partnerships around the world.
“I can think of no partnership that is more strategic than the one which we are here to formalize tonight through the signing of a new MOU,” Armstrong said.
Since its founding in 1880, USC has welcomed international students. By 1914, the university supported a large population of foreign students, who set up the first international student organization. By 1930, USC was number three in the nation in foreign student enrollment.
“Today, we’re number one,” Armstrong said. “We probably have more international graduates than any other university in the United States. That means that as you travel around the world, you will find everywhere loyal Trojans, in every city in the world and in positions of responsibility and power.”
The Viterbi School of Engineering benefits from that large international student population. Approximately 850 Indian students are currently enrolled in engineering programs and Indian engineers make up approximately 10 percent of the school’s faculty.
Nikias said the two universities will develop collaborative programs in joint research, distance learning, and student and faculty exchanges.
Initially, the collaboration will focus on IIT Kharagpur's Gupta School of Management, and involve programs in information technology/communication, biomedical technology and, especially, engineering management. The USC Viterbi School’s Distance Education Network, one of the foremost distance education facilities in engineering education, will play a key role.
Vinod Gupta, a well-known atmospheric scientist, and chief executive officer and founder of InfoUSA [NASDAQ IUSA], was the catalyst for the partnership.
“It has always been my dream for IIT, Kharagpur, to have a presence and collaboration with a great American university,” said Gupta, an alumnus of IIT, at a campus ceremony in late March to announce the new partnership. “Given the excellence of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, I believe that when we bring its strength together with the strengths of IIT Kharagpur, great things will happen for both schools.”