Proving his mettle at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), USA, where he was elected University Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member could achieve, Pradeep Khosla, began his tenure as University of California, San Diego’s eighth chancellor on August 1, 2012. Formerly dean of engineering at CMU, he received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from IIT-KGP in 1980, and his MS and PhD degrees in electrical and computer engineering in 1984 and 1986 from CMU. During his tenure at CMU, Khosla had actively engaged with SSN College of Engineering, Chennai, and other institutes in India.
Still feeling connected to the Indian culture, though it has metamorphosed beyond recognition, Khosla is happy as a clam at UC San Diego. “UC San Diego is home to many brilliant, collaborative people — faculty, staff and students — and they have extended a warm welcome to me. During my first few months as chancellor, I focused on making connections on the campus and in the community. The more I learn, the more impressed I am with our people and our work,” says the 55-year-old. UC San Diego is home to six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions and five graduate and professional schools. It also hosts the world-famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego Health System, including two hospitals and several outpatient centres, and a top-ranked library.
Vouching for crystal clear planning at UC San Diego, the chancellor, says, “One of my goals when I started the job was to initiate a strategic planning process to evaluate where we are as an institution and where we want to be in the future. We are drafting our mission and vision statements, as well as our goals and measurements.” Khosla also credits his previous jobs, mentors and experiences for having prepared him for his current role. Though his schedule as chancellor leaves him with little or no time to teach, Khosla makes up by regularly interacting with students on a daily basis in his administrative role.
Having studied both in India and USA, Khosla believes the latter has the best possible public education system in the world. Reading, driving and family time relaxes Khosla. In recent times, Fermat’s Last Theorem, which traces the history of mathematics and the previously unsolved mathematical problem posed by Pierre de Fermat in the 17th century has captivated him. “I enjoyed how the book documented the tenacity of the English mathematician, Andrew Wiles, who spent eight years working to develop the proof of the theorem, something others had tried, but could not do over the last 350 years,” he signs off on an intellectual note. Khosla and his wife Thespine are proud parents of three children — Nathan, Alex and Nina. Khosla travels to India a few times a year for work and to see family and once again says that, “It has changed since I lived there 30 years ago.”