Professor Abir Mullick has been at Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta (Georgia Tech) and has served in US higher education for over twenty years, conducting research and teaching courses in architecture and design. Prior to Georgia Tech, he has taught at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York and at the Purdue University, Indiana. His commitment to higher education is fueled by the belief that university education must lay emphasis on general education, research, practical training, teaching and solving problems that challenge the society. Professor Mullick’s educational and professional background is broad and it crosses over architecture, design, and city planning disciplines. His undergraduate education in industrial design is from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and his graduate education in design, architecture and city planning disciplines.
Ques 1: Being the provost of Navrachana University, kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?
Ans. Let me answer the question in two parts:
About my experience in the education industry:
I have served over 25 years in US Higher Education and in the institution of international repute. I have gone through a very rigorous Promotion and Tenure system to become an accomplished teacher, scholar, and administrator. The US system of Promotion and Tenure demands academic productivity and rigorous evaluation at many levels (external and internal). The faculty is eligible to apply for tenure (become permanent) after 5 years of joining an institution, during which the faculty must become an expert and gain “national notoriety”. At Navrachana University we have adopted a mini version of the US Promotion and Tenure system and the faculty is judged on Productivity and on standards set by the peers. I became “Full Professor with Tenure”, the highest academic rank, at Georgia Tech by establishing “International Notoriety”. I have served in academic administration at Tech which has prepared me well to lead an Indian university.
What makes it the best industry to work in:
I have worked in institutions of higher education for three reasons: a) The Growth: Higher Education offers the opportunity to become something and one can become what she/he wants to become. As long as one meets the basic employment requirements of teaching, research, and service, one can rise to become what one chooses to be. B) Set own goals: If one is willing to put 110%, institutions of higher education allow setting own goals and reaching for the goals. One can strive to become a teacher or researcher or scholar. C) Work for me: Working in higher education has always felt like I am working for myself. I have always enjoyed the critical balance between independence and responsibility.
Ques 2: What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
Ans. Assertive (No means NO) but always be kind; open and informal, but always demand the best; never scream or belittle anyone (students, faculty, and staff), simply treat them as equal and hold them responsible for their actions.
Ques 3: Any of the significant challenges you faced as the provost of Navrachana University?
Ans. The great difficulty in finding faculty good in academics, highly productive and truly innovative.
Ques 4: Your educational and professional background is broad and it crosses over architecture, design, and city planning disciplines. What advice and suggestion do you have for students planning to take up architecture as a career?
Ans. Architecture education is terrific – synthesis of sociology, technology, philosophy, culture, lifestyle, and innovation. It is a well-rounded education; go for it.
Ques 5: You have been at Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta (Georgia Tech) and have served in US higher education for over twenty years. What difference do you find in the teaching style in India as compared to the other countries across the globe?
Ans. US education is engaging, explorative, promotes thinking and welcomes participation.
Ques 6: When heading an educational university, it is very important to have a dynamic approach towards both student and faculty development. How do you achieve that?
Ans. Faculty needs strong directives and it is important to take them along. Serve as a role model for students; they learn from following.
Ques 7: Your university has students coming from different backgrounds as well as different states of the country. How do you build a positive culture or climate among the students?
Ans. First, lead by “doing” and demonstrate equality and fairness. Second, always be open and be approachable. Third, be kind and always give everyone a patient hearing.
Ques 8: How do you look at the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Rai university? How do you wish to push the envelope further?
Ans. Create many opportunities for students, not just placement. In the process of education, make them (students) aware of choices, help them find their passion and direct them to be what they want to be. At Navrachana University, we don’t push students; we present choices and encourage them to select.
Ques 9: How do you tend to establish a relationship with the students being the chancellor of the university? How do you make yourselves available to them?
Ans. As a VC, I am required to be there for everyone. So, my door is always open and students (faculty and staff) and they can visit me for anything and at any time. In fact, I mostly get students who don’t want anything from me; they just drop by to say hello. On the days which I am busy I ask them if I can meet them later.
Ques 10: Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
Ans. Look around, find a passion, work hard and “Be What You Want to Be”.Last Updated - 20 Jul 2017