Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Roshan Lal Raina is the Vice Chancellor of JKLU. Before taking over as the Vice Chancellor of JKLU, Dr. Raina was Professor in ‘Communication’ at IIM Lucknow, where he successfully initiated and handled institution-building activities in areas like ‘Placements’, ‘Corporate Communication & Media Relations’, Student Affairs’, and ‘Alumni Affairs’. He is credited with building and managing state-of-the-art and world-class academic infrastructure, including the learning resource center at IIML.
Among several distinguished assignments, he has successfully handled the position of Director at the prestigious Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, Delhi during 2005-2008. His involvement in mentoring the three IIMs (at Rohtak, Kashipur, Sirmaur) and two Central Universities (at Jammu and Kashmir), in particular, drew appreciation of all concerned.
Besides teaching a variety of innovative courses in the areas of ‘Communication for Management’, he has had several prestigious assignments in educational institutes in US, UK, France, Germany, and Canada. Reputed organizations like the Fulbright Foundation (USA), the British Council (UK), the Max Mueller Bhawan (Germany), the ESCP-EAP (France), and the (Canada) sponsored these assignments.
As a highly respected trainer in ‘corporate’ as well as ‘government’ circles, Dr. Raina has been actively involved in conducting advanced, innovative and need-based management/faculty development programs and workshops.
Concurrently, he has been involved in several consulting and research assignments awarded by reputed national and international agencies like the JSI, Deliver, USA, IDRC, Canada, The Johns Hopkins University/Centre for Communication Programs, Baltimore, USA, the UP State Electricity Board (in connection with an injunction from the Apex Court), State Water and Sanitation Mission (GOUP), UP State Road Transport Corporation, MHRD (GOI) and DESIDOC, DRDO (GOI).
For his multi-faceted contributions, Dr. Raina holds a unique distinction of having received several top professional scholarships/honours/awards, including the Fulbright Award, the British Council Fellowship, SIS Fellowship, Top Rankers Excellence Award for Academic Leadership (2014), Indian Science Congress Association Honour (2014), AGBA Distinguished Life-Time Achievement Award (2016), IATLIS – Prof. Jaginder Singh Ramdev ‘Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 (in 2017)’, Felicitation by G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttarakhand (2017), Exemplary Academic Leadership Award (2017), and “Visionary edu-leader of India” Award (2017).
Dr. Raina’s experience in the education industry
Education industry in a country like India as of today is facing several critical challenges in all its three critical components and these are the: (i) input; (ii) process; & (iii) the output. If addressed properly, the industry can create unique and distinctive opportunity for not only the youth of India but all those who are passionate about this industry to flourish.
Yes, this is the best industry to work in because the sole aim is to generate, disseminate and apply knowledge. If the industry takes upon itself this pious role in right earnestness, India will rule the roost in the 21st century. All it has to do is to bring-in and build-on the elements of ‘quality’ in all the 3 components of knowledge cycle which are the: (i) ‘generation’; (ii) ‘dissemination’; & (iii) ‘application’ of knowledge.
Dr. Raina’s leadership style
Leading from the front in all its activity mix and learning from everyone in the University, is what I practice and will, I am sure, help JKLU realize its goal.
Significant challenges faced as the Vice Chancellor of JK Lakshmipat University
Attracting quality input (students and faculty, particularly) is one challenge which we are addressing through creating our own USPs in terms of what we teach, how we teach that and how we assess and evaluate what we teach. We have truly gone out to get some of the best faculty members from not just across the country but around the world. We are attempting to make all state-of-the-art knowledge domains an integral part of all the programs/courses, here.
Dr. Raina on his time management
Time management is critical for everyone. Right from my childhood, having from my parents, I plan my day-to-day as well as activities in advance. This helps me prepare for my days adequately and has helped me stay on track because I haven’t experienced anything negative on this front so far.
Curriculum of JKLU
The curriculum and pedagogy at JKLU is one of our primary highlights. We have redesigned our curriculum to prepare our students to face the future of work and business, which have significantly evolved due to technology and innovation. Here, we are focused on an application based approach where students learn by doing. Through a multidisciplinary approach, students at JKLU learn problem solving and most importantly, they learn how to learn.
The focus of the is growing towards the strategic integration of latest technological advancements (Robotics, IoTs, Artificial Intelligence, etc) and practices (Design Thinking, Critical Thinking).
By involving seasoned experts from the industry not only the design of the course but in its delivery as well as assessment and evaluation, we are confident that what we deliver is contemporary and our graduates are industry-ready. We are working with Olin College, Boston, USA – a pioneer in project based learning in engineering education around the world – to design our curriculum focused on hands-on learning.
Similarly, we have also redesigned our management programme and launched the Pinnacle MBA programme this year, which gives students the experience of real-world problem solving. The students will learn from leaders from the industry and from top Indian and foreign institutions; they will learn from experiential, live and capstone projects, throughout their course. We have truly gone out and brought in some of the best industry mentors for our students.
At JKLU, students ideate, experiment and apply their classroom knowledge. It is a process that teaches them to communicate, collaborate, think critically and solve problems creatively. Our collaboration with over 30 plus industrial and distinguished mentors from the industry is a reflection of that.
We also have programmes like practice schools, internships and various partnerships with industry where we work with the industry professionals to train them with the latest technology and practices and also learn from them about the challenges industry is facing today. We also have a of industry-academia experts who provide insights for the curriculum development and specific programs for our students to be industry adaptive.
In addition to this, we are focusing on the personal growth of our students through our Centre for Communication & Critical Thinking, where we work with our students through courses, workshops, engagement activities and mentoring to strengthen their verbal and written communication and their critical thinking skills. The Centre works with them to broaden their perspective about the world around them.
Views on the growth of students through placement opportunities available at JK Lakshmipat University
The student growth is not just providing placement opportunities, it is making students capable enough to create an opportunity which may be a job, a start-up, pursue higher education, or any unexplored path. We are taking it one step forward by saying that our students should be ‘life ready’ not just job ready. We are providing a foundation in communication, , and critical thinking which make them available for broader opportunities in life with a special capability towards entrepreneurship. To facilitate the process, JK Lakshmipat University has a Career Services Department which works with students closely to make sure they find the right opportunity, in jobs, higher education or any other path they want to pursue.
We have strong industry partnerships which provide job opportunities. Our Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation provides support for entrepreneurial and incubation activities. We also have the Centre for Data Sciences and the Centre for Operations Excellence that provide students with the opportunity to work with senior faculty members to solve real business problems of organisations, exposing them to experience and opportunities. JKLU provides opportunities to network with industries, organisations and individuals throughout the year to the students.
Dr. Raina on his with the students being the Vice Chancellor of the university
Students are the main stakeholder of the University. It is part of the job description of the VC at our University to have a strong and direct with the students. I am available to them 24x7x365 as I stay on campus in the of the housing area; I invite them to my house for festival celebrations and have an open conversation. I have seen, in many institutions that VCs are rarely seen and are often not very approachable but I believe I have been the opposite of that! I interact with the students on several occasions and preferably don’t miss out on any opportunity to spend some time with the JKLU family at large.
Formally, I interact with the students at the time of their Induction to the University, on all major University functions, national as well as in various religious, sports and cultural festivals of the country, apart from meeting them, once a while, in their regular classrooms interactions in the class are generally subject specific, for beyond the classroom enrichment.
We also conduct town halls where they can ask direct questions to us and we try to address the same asap. I am also a part of the Centre for Communication & Critical Thinking and take a number of classes with the students, where I get to know them as a facilitator and not a Vice Chancellor. I am looking forward to spend time with students under various programmes this center will run as it takes bolder steps this year. This will also provide an open communication channel for students to talk and interact with me.
It is the student energy only which drives me, and I don’t leave a single opportunity to get charged from this, which drives me to do many other things at the University.
Ideal school environment for Dr. Raina
The ideal environment at an education institution is where the vibrancy of student activities is channelized to achieve and challenge the bar set by previous students. It is a place where students are always curious, active and experimental, where they are not afraid to participate and learn from new ideas. It is this energy that will push them to reach the next level in any area - be in academics, research, projects, internships, or in student clubs, events, celebrations, competitions, etc.
We have over 16 clubs and societies at the University that organise a number of intra, inter and national level events throughout the year. These clubs are completely student run and we recently established a Student Activity Centre (SAC) which facilitates and ensures support to these Students Clubs based on the student interest and passion.
The Faculty Members have the responsibility clubs and also execution of specific projects with students. Therefore, faculty and students are and that gives you the flavor of the environment. This helps them in the classroom as well as the classroom to be more effective and respectful to each other.
Goals in mind for JKLU for the next few years
JKLU has a single goal which is to be the most innovative higher education institution in the country and deliver the best experiential as well as holistic education to its students. With depth in core courses, students must have the flexibility to choose interdisciplinary courses for their overall development and focus on professional skills. We are committed to preparing students not just for a job but for a life!
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
- Be inquisitive
- Be innovative
- Convert ‘challenges’ into ‘opportunities’
- Pursue passion passionately
- Believe in ‘giving back’ to the society