A respected Indian American academic and an experienced higher education administrator who has spearheaded change at three top national research universities, Debasish ‘Deba’ Dutta, will become the next chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
President Robert Barchi announced Dutta’s appointment today at a meeting of the Rutgers Board of Governors. The university conducted a national search before selecting a new leader of the Big Ten institution, which is also a member of the Association of American Universities – a group of 60 prestigious research universities across the nation, according to a press release.
Dutta will begin serving as chancellor on July 1. Dutta comes to Rutgers from Purdue University, where he serves as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, with a faculty appointment as a professor of mechanical engineering. Previously, he worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
“Dr. Dutta will be an inspiring, collaborative leader and a powerful voice for Rutgers University-New Brunswick at a pivotal time in its history,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi, in a statement. “He comes here with impeccable academic credentials, solid administrative leadership and deep experience at three Big Ten institutions.
“We also welcome and applaud Deba’s commitment to diversity. He has a proven track record of success in building diverse, inclusive communities, as he has shown in his efforts as Purdue’s chief diversity officer and at Illinois where he served as chancellor’s advisor on diversity.”
As both the chief academic and diversity officer at Purdue, Dutta is responsible for ensuring that diversity and inclusion are a priority in all areas of the university. During his tenure, he has helped increase the graduation rate, enhance student advising, establish new programs in liberal arts, and expand programs in engineering, computer science, business, nursing and technology.
As chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Dutta will oversee the largest of the three major Rutgers University campuses with more than 50,000 students, 4,000 faculty, 12 degree-granting schools, nine academic research centers, four administrative units, a premier Honors College, Douglass Residential College and the Zimmerli Art Museum.
“I am tremendously excited to bring the skills I have developed at Purdue, Illinois and Michigan to lead Rutgers University-New Brunswick,” Dutta said. “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and students to drive innovation and build a new era of success that will elevate the flagship of Rutgers University to even greater national prominence.
“One of my goals is to provide institutional leadership with an urgency to address current needs, ever mindful of history, and with an eye toward the future. This university is rich with highly accomplished faculty, skilled administrators, and talented and passionate students. I truly believe that when we work together, the possibilities are limitless.”
Dutta is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, as well as a scholar in residence at the National Academy of Engineering.
Before joining Purdue in 2014, Dutta served as associate provost and dean of the graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was also Gutgsell Endowed Professor and interim vice-chancellor for research. There, he established several new interdisciplinary programs to help foster new research and create collaborations across colleges. He also helped set standards for more than 300 master’s and doctoral programs across disciplines.
Dutta spent three years at the National Science Foundation, where he served as acting director of the Division of Graduate Education and as IGERT program director.
He started his career in 1989 at the University of Michigan, where he was a mechanical engineering faculty member for 20 years. He served as associate chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and also the founding director of InterPro, an innovative, interdisciplinary academic unit in the College of Engineering that launched new interdisciplinary graduate programs.
“From conducting grant-funded projects as an award-winning mechanical engineer to his program directorship at NSF to his current service as provost at Purdue, Dr. Dutta has nurtured a rich understanding of the power and value of research,” Barchi said. “He is the right leader to build on the great progress that our AAU institution has made in the past five years and take Rutgers University-New Brunswick to a new level of excellence.”
Dutta holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Purdue, a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Evansville and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Jadavpur University in Calcutta, India.
He will succeed Richard Edwards, who is returning to the faculty after serving as chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick since 2014.