Trustees ratify appointments, approve new academic programs and OK department name change

October 12, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (Oct. 12) ratified appointments of three named professors at West Lafayette and a dean at Purdue University Calumet, and approved a new cooperative education program.

Trustees also approved a name change for an academic unit at the West Lafayette campus and a civil engineering program at Purdue North Central.

The board ratified a named leadership position for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Venkataramanan Balakrishnan, the current head, was confirmed as the first Michael and Katherine Birck Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also ratified were Rao S. Govindaraju as the Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering; Allan Gray as the Agriculture Chair of Excellence in Engagement; and William R. Law as dean of Purdue Calumet's School of Engineering, Math and Sciences, and professor of biological sciences with tenure.

Rao S. Govindaraju

Rao S. Govindaraju
Download Photo

Govindaraju, whose appointment was effective July 1, has been the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering since 2006. Before coming to Purdue in 1997, he was on the Kansas State University faculty, beginning in 1993.

His primary research areas include surface and subsurface hydrology, contaminant transport, watershed hydrology, and climatic influences. He specializes in problems dealing with uncertainty and spatial variability.

Govindaraju earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 1984, and a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1986. He received his doctorate from the University of California Davis in 1989.

Allan Gray

Allan Gray
Download Photo

Gray has been at Purdue since 1998 and is director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business and the MS/MBA in food and agricultural business program. He also is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

He has written 36 journal articles and has 31 Extension-related publications. He has received the American Agricultural Economics Association's Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program Award, the Purdue Dean's Team Award, the United States Distance Learning Association's Excellence in Distance Teaching Award and the American Agricultural Economics Association's Extension Group Award.

Balakrishnan has been head of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2010. He served as interim head of the school in 2009-10. He came to Purdue in 1994 as an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering and was promoted to professor in 2003. He was the school's assistant head for strategic initiatives and director of graduate admissions in 2003-04, and the associate head for instruction from 2004-07. From 2007-10, Balakrishnan was the College of Engineering's associate dean for research.

Venkataramanan Balakrishnan

Download Photo

His primary research interests are in applying numerical techniques, especially those based on convex optimization, to engineering applications.

Balakrishnan received a degree in electronics and communication from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1985. He earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1989, and a master's degree in statistics and a doctorate in electrical engineering in 1992 from Stanford University.

Law, who began his new position on Aug. 15, came to Purdue Calumet from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where he had been vice dean of the Misher College of Arts and Sciences since 2009. He also was a professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of the Sciences from 2005-09. Before that, he was an assistant and associate professor of physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine from 1991-2005, and was an assistant professor at Loyola University Medical Center from 1987-89.

William Law

William Law
Download Photo

Law has had 77 peer-reviewed journal publications and also won teacher of the year awards in 1995 and 2005 as well as a program improvement award for biological sciences in 2007.

He earned his bachelor's degree in biology and secondary education from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and his doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Trustees also approved a cooperative education program for the College of Pharmacy. The program has several benefits for students, said Victor Lechtenberg, acting provost and chief academic officer.

"Students will be able to observe what they have learned in the classroom and also gain a better understanding of others in a work environment," he said. "They also will get a better idea of the opportunities for which they are best suited, gain confidence and have a smoother transition into a job when they graduate.

"The program also will help the college recruit good students, and it will bring information on current industrial, business and government practices back to the classroom. It also will help improve relations with the industrial, business and government communities."

The college expects fewer than 20 students per year in the program, said Dean Craig Svensson. He said administrative and oversight required will be provided through reallocation and redirection of existing resources. The program will begin in January.

Trustees approved changing the name of the Department of Consumer Sciences and Retailing in the College of Health and Human Sciences to the Department of Consumer Science.

Lechtenberg said retailing is no longer the department's focus because other majors have grown in stature and enrollment. He said the name more accurately reflects the focus of the graduate and undergraduate programs.

He also said the word retailing in the name of the department poses challenges in recruiting students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The board also approved a bachelor of science degree program in civil engineering at Purdue North Central.

Demand for civil engineers in northern Indiana is good and continues to grow, Lechtenberg said, adding that a statewide ranking of job priorities in the Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs Report lists civil engineering in several positions.

Lechtenberg said enrollment is projected to be 24 students in the first year, 2013-14, increasing to 75 students by 2017. He said the program will begin with existing faculty resources and, if it grows as anticipated, two additional faculty members would be hired by 2015. Additional revenue to the campus from additional enrollment would support the hires.

The program requires the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's approval.

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711,

Sources:  Vic Lechtenberg,

Rao S. Govindaraju, 765-496-3402,

Allan Gray, 7765-494-4323,

Venkataramanan Balakrishnan,

William R. Law, phone,

Craig Svensson, 765-494-1368,

James Dworkin, 219-785-5200, ext. 5331,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2014-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Integrity Statement | Copyright Complaints | Brand Toolkit | Maintained by Marketing and Media

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact us at so we can help.