Meet the Provost

Debasish (Deba) Dutta, PhD

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Diversity
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Phone: 765-494-9709
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Executive Assistant: Carla Reeves,

Debasish (Deba) Dutta is provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, with a faculty appointment as a professor of mechanical engineering. He received his PhD from Purdue in 1989 and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. As chief diversity officer for Purdue, Dutta ensures that diversity and inclusion are a priority for all areas of the university including faculty, students and staff. He and the college deans work in tandem to coordinate campus efforts for maximum impact. He is broadening the conversation and programming about diversity at Purdue and leveraging the success of the NSF-funded Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) initiative that is housed in the Office of the Provost.

From 2009 to 2014, Dutta was associate provost and dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Edward and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering. During 1989-2009, Dutta was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. He serves on the board of directors of the 501c(3) Illinois Consortium for 21st Century Schools and on the Illinois Arts Education Advisory Committee. He is a scholar in residence at the National Academy of Engineering, where he leads studies on educating for innovation and on lifelong learning for engineering professionals.

Dutta has extensive experience in higher education — including teaching, research, administration, finances and policy development — at the university, college and department levels. He led Illinois’ efforts in defining standards and setting policies to enable excellence in graduate education and research in over 300 master's and doctoral programs across all disciplines. Dutta’s leadership was marked by innovations in academic programs and in recruiting, retaining and preparing graduate students, particularly from the underrepresented populations. He established the Office of External Fellowships and helped to increase internal and external fellowships for graduate students; initiated and institutionalized a process for the assessment of doctoral programs; and established the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. He also served as interim vice chancellor for research, chaired the Board of Directors of Illinois at Singapore PTE, a multimillion-dollar research enterprise in Singapore, and in 2010 chaired the steering committee for a university-wide reorganization process to best position Illinois for excellence in an era of declining state appropriations.

During 2004-07, he served at the National Science Foundation as acting director of the Division of Graduate Education, as IGERT program director and as advisor in the Office of Assistant Director, Education and Human Resources. He chaired the Learning and Workforce Development subcommittee during the development of NSF’s Cyberinfrastructure Strategy (Vision for 21st Century Discovery).

At Michigan, Dutta was the founding director of InterPro, an innovative interdisciplinary academic unit in the College of Engineering that catalyzed new interdisciplinary graduate programs. After a decade of success including the establishment of the first University of Michigan master’s degree (jointly with Shanghai Jiao Tong University) recognized by the Chinese government, InterPro became a division in the college (and changed its name to Integrative Systems and Design). Dutta also served as associate chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and on several university standing and ad hoc committees.

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