Purdue announces Debasish Dutta as next provost

May 8, 2014  


Debasish Dutta

Debasish Dutta

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (May 8) announced that Debasish "Deba" Dutta will be the university's next provost, effective July 1.

Dutta is currently associate provost and dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He succeeds Tim Sands, who will leave Purdue to become president of Virginia Tech University.

"Our search committee did a terrific job under unusual time pressure and produced three fully qualified and exciting candidates for provost," President Mitch Daniels said. "Purdue University would have been well served by any of them. However, both the committee and the input from other faculty and staff showed a decided preference for Dr. Deba Dutta, and that was the decisive factor in my selection.

"We thank all the candidates, the committee and everyone in the Purdue family who participated in the search process. We look forward to welcoming this outstanding scholar and leader to the Purdue community."

As provost, Dutta will be responsible for all of Purdue's colleges and schools and related academic activities in coordination with the Office of the President. The provost also oversees libraries, cultural centers and enrollment management, including admissions, registrar, and financial aid and various student success programs in addition to the appointment and retention of faculty and academic staff.

"Purdue is among the top higher education institutions in the world, and I can't think of a better place to serve as provost," Dutta said. "The opportunity to work with world-class faculty and researchers, and particularly to work with President Daniels, is one I could not resist. The Purdue Moves are bold initiatives that will help build on the rich tradition of our land-grant mission, advance student success and solve some of the world's greatest challenges. Purdue has an extraordinary past and an even brighter future, and I look forward to being a partner in its progress."

Tim Zwier, interim head of the Department of Chemistry and chair of the search committee, said Dutta stood out among many strong candidates from across the country.

"Our search committee worked tirelessly to field a strong pool of potential provosts, and I am very appreciative of their work," he said. "I also thank the university community as a whole for the role they played in the process, attending and viewing the presentations of our finalists and providing thoughtful comments and feedback that formed the foundation for our deliberations. The committee supplied the president its own views and other information that indicated that Dr. Dutta was the strongest among very strong candidates."

In addition to his duties at associate provost and dean at Illinois, Dutta holds a named professorship in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and is a professor of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering. Additionally, he is a scholar-in-residence at the National Academy of Engineering, where he currently leads a national study about education for innovation.

From 2004-2007, Dutta worked at the National Science Foundation on educational initiatives and workforce development in science and technology, and he represented Illinois in the 2010 Education Leaders Institute of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dutta received his doctorate from Purdue in 1989 and was on the faculty at the University of Michigan from 1989-2008. He has published extensively in the area of computer-aided design and manufacturing and currently focuses on interoperability issues in product lifecycle management. 

He and his wife, Fataneh Taghaboni-Dutta, also a member of the faculty at Illinois, have three children.

Dutta's appointment is expected to be ratified by the Board of Trustees at its May 16 stated meeting. 

Sources:  Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Tim Zwier, zwier@purdue.edu

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