Indian American Jayathi Murthy named Oregon State University president

A distinguished alumna of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, she is the first woman of color to lead OSU

Jayathi Y. Murthy, an Indian American leader in higher education engineering teaching, research and service, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, has been appointed Oregon State University’s next president.

Murthy, 64, who has served as the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science since January 2016, will become OSU’s 16th president on Sep 9, the university announced.

Oregon State’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously June 7 to approve Murthy’s appointment and a five-year employment agreement to lead the state’s largest public university.

Read: Thomas Jefferson University honors Indian educationist Prabhakar Kore (May 30, 2022)

A distinguished alumna of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, from where she received a bachelor’s of technology degree in mechanical engineering before coming to the US, Murthy is the first woman of color to lead OSU. She will succeed Becky Johnson, who has served as OSU’s interim president since May 1, 2021.

“Dr. Murthy is the right person and leader to guide this remarkable university that is enjoying tremendous momentum,” said Kirk Schueler, chair of OSU’s Board of Trustees.

“Under Dr. Murthy’s leadership, OSU’s incredible impact in Oregon, nationally and globally, and the university’s commitment and progress in advancing diversity, equity and inclusive excellence will grow.”

“This is the right place and right time,” Murthy said. “I am very impressed by Oregon State University. OSU is well-positioned to address the many challenges in how higher education will be best provided in the years ahead thanks to the university’s excellent faculty, staff and leaders, and its commitment to student success, inclusive excellence and its long experience and leadership in online education.”

Murthy praised OSU for its growing national and global research prominence and its contributions to Oregon communities statewide through OSU Extension and engagement programs.

“Oregon State University is widely recognized in all things related to climate science and resilience, and also in transdisciplinary research related to AI, robotics, natural resources, clean energy, public policy, public health and the social sciences,” she said. “This is the time to think big and do big things. I am confident that OSU can be a national leader in the post-pandemic era.”

Murthy said OSU can grow faculty research, scholarship, creativity and innovation by continuing to hire and retain excellent faculty.

Read: Arun Majumdar named inaugural dean of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability (May 5, 2022)

“We also will invest even more in research infrastructure. We will support individual research investigators in their efforts to expand their research activities. And we will grow our work with federal and state leaders and agencies, and private sector businesses, to significantly expand large-scale and collaborative OSU research.

“Oregon State University is a fantastic example of a modern, 21st century land grant university. We can build on this impact through OSU Extension’s work in communities across the state and by OSU engaging in strong two-way communication with Oregonians and communities.”

Murthy was the first woman dean at UCLA’s engineering school, which has 190 faculty members and more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

She also led the effort to establish Women in Engineering at UCLA (WE@UCLA) – a program that supports the full participation of women in engineering.

She underscored her intention to advance OSU’s commitment to inclusive excellence among students, faculty and staff.

“Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is a deeply held conviction of mine and is central to my work as an educator and administrator,” Murthy said. “As an engineer, I have often been the only woman in the room since I was 16.”

Murthy said the university will advance inclusive excellence by providing access to college for all learners and providing students enrolled on campus and online with strong student support services, including advising, internships, mentoring and financial assistance for those with need.

“I do not believe in exclusivity or in excluding certain students,” she said. “That’s not the future I see for OSU. I see broad access for all qualified learners.”

Murthy also is a distinguished professor in UCLA school’s mechanical and aerospace department. Before joining UCLA, Murthy was chair of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin and held the Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Memorial Chair in Engineering from 2012-2015.

She has authored over 330 technical publications.

Murthy received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University.

She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), foreign fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the recipient of many honors, including the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award in 2016 and the ASME Electronics and Photonics Packaging Division Clock Award.

Read: Indian American Jayathi Murthy appointed president at Oregon State (June 15, 2022)

Her research interests include nanoscale heat transfer, computational fluid dynamics, and simulations of fluid flow and heat transfer for industrial applications.

Murthy is married to Dr. Sanjay Mathur, an aerospace engineer who works at SparkCognition, a firm specializing in artificial intelligence systems and development.

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