Prof Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor, University of California San Diego
“Collaborations are always welcome as they expand the strengths mutually”
Prof Pradeep K. Khosla, the eighth Chancellor of University of California (UC), San Diego, leads a campus that has more than 35,000 students. He has initiated and led UC San Diego’s first ever Strategic Plan aimed to identify and implement unprecedented solutions necessary to address pressing global challenges. With annual revenues of $4.3 billion in fiscal year 2015, UC San Diego is an academic and research powerhouse, with faculty, researchers and staff attracting more than $1 billion in research funding a year. The campus is the third largest employer in San Diego County and one of 10 campuses in the world-renowned University of California system. Recently UC San Diego entered into a partnership with Ahmedabad University and launched Global Executive MBA program for pharmaceutical industry professionals. In this regard BioSpectrum spoke to Prof Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor, University of California San Diego about the strategic plan and how this partnership will help Indian students. Edited experts;
Tell us about how UC San Diego’s first-ever Strategic Plan was created? Why did you initiate it and how has it helped students?
UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan was initiated in 2014 when the University was at a critical juncture in its evolution. We needed to think boldly, identify and implement unprecedented solutions that were necessary to ensure our continued level of excellence and to advance our knowledge, in order to address pressing global challenges.
We engaged more than 10,000 stakeholders to gather ideas and insights about UC San Diego’s challenges and opportunities. We coupled that effort with a quantitative assessment, benchmarking UC San Diego to peer institutions across multiple dimensions. Based on the data we gathered, we sharpened and framed our mission, values, goals, and initial strategies to collectively map a framework for sustainable excellence.
The Strategic Plan has refocused UC San
Diego to be a student-centered university. We are enhancing the student experience on a primarily residential campus. We are creating a more connected campus. We are making UC San Diego a destination for arts, culture and recreation. We are creating an educational and overall experience that develops students who are capable of solving problems, leading, and innovating in a diverse and interconnected world.
What are the driving factors of its success?
The Strategic Plan touches all aspects of the university and has been instrumental in its holistic transformation. Also, the fact that we engaged each and every stakeholder category while gathering the insights and made this plan highly inclusive is a crucial factor in its success. The Strategic Plan is a dynamic roadmap and is ever evolving, making it highly relevant and contemporary, which is another reason why it is thriving and succeeding.
Why did you choose Ahmedabad University as a partner? What makes it stand apart from the other universities?
In the universe of universities, both Ahmedabad University and UC San Diego are relatively young
– and hence both are agile, aspiring and nimble to move faster. Ahmedabad University with its stellar leadership team driving an interdisciplinary paradigm, well-trained research-oriented faculty, and a focus on solving larger issues of the modern world, has all the right credentials to emerge as a great university in India. Their unique understanding of the context and sense of the requirement of the times that we live in, both, from the Indian as well as global perspectives, have helped them design their academic models that address complex problems faced by society, while building deep disciplinary skills. In fact, the speed at which our two teams conceived and designed the Global Executive MBA in Pharmaceutical Management program is a testimonial of our mutual understanding and teamwork – that bodes well for further collaborations in specific domains of interest.
How will partnership with UC San Diego help Indian students?
One of the goals of the Strategic Plan has been to cultivate a diverse and inclusive university community that encourages respectful open dialogue, and challenges itself to take bold actions that will ensure learning accessibility and affordability for all. So Indian students choosing UC San Diego will find a very supportive and multi-cultural environment in which to study. We have also expanded the number of students who receive scholarships and boosted on-campus programming to further support the scholars. Our partnership with Ahmedabad University will explore innovative ways in which Indian students would make their overseas study feasible and highly engaging at UC San Diego.
Are there any plans to partner with other public or private universities in India?
Collaborations are always welcome with other universities as they expand the strengths and enhance the learning curve, mutually. Our association with the Ahmedabad University is an important collaboration in India and we look forward to a dynamic partnership that would make the
Global Executive MBA program in Pharmaceutical Management to be the best in the world. We are open to exploring new opportunities that might arise in the future which would entail collaborating with public or private universities in India.
How has this partnership helped UC San Diego?
First, we all know India’s gigantic aspiration to provide its citizens with world class education. Recent estimates suggest that students from India spend more than $8 billion in education abroad – nearly half of which is spent in the United States. Indian students
are among the most meritorious globally. So access to this huge pool of talent aspiring for cutting-edge education in technology, sciences and policy is highly desirable for UC Dan Diego. This partnership with Ahmedabad University enables us to access that pool. Second, like Ahmedabad in India, San Diego has emerged as an American and global hub for cutting-edge research and innovation in life-sciences and biotechnology. Hence, it is a very attractive proposition for both UC San Diego and Ahmedabad University to synergize these biopharma and life sciences clusters to align with each other and create a world-class ecosystem of scientific and managerial expertise.
In your opinion, what should be done to reduce the industry-academia gap in life sciences & pharma sector?
As India becomes a global pharma hub, it is imperative that the leaders, managers and employees of companies in the sector sharpen their technological, scientific, and management acumen. There needs to be an ongoing collaborative interaction and input mechanism between the industry and academia to make the pharma courses more industry ready and application oriented. The Global Executive MBA degree in Pharmaceutical Management is one step in that direction where pharmaceutical professionals are engaged in intense interaction with experienced colleagues and worldclass faculty on key issues affecting innovation and drug delivery in pharmaceutical and life sciences field.
How can Universities help in making students equipped with the skills that are needed in the industry?
First, it’s important that students are well-rounded and able to think with both the left and right brain. We must provide students with a strong foundation of skills – like how to apply knowledge with understanding and how to work collaboratively – so they can then build advanced expertise and work on multi-disciplinary teams to tackle and address our society’s most complex and pressing global challenges. It is also imperative that students learn from faculty who have industry experience and leadership. At UC San Diego, we actively encourage student innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship and nontraditional thinking, as we want to prepare our students for the ever-evolving job market and economy, which requires creativity, flexibility and adaptability.