Indian-American appointed chancellor of University of Michigan-Flint

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Debasish Dutta, the former chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, was selected June 20 as the new chancellor of the University of Michigan-Flint. His five-year appointment was approved by the Board of Regents of the prestigious Midwestern university.

Debasish Dutta, new chancellor of University of Michigan-Flint. (Photo taken 6/17/19 Studio portrait of Deba Dutta from umich.edu).

Dutta, who left the Rutgers chancellorship after a year over differences, starts in his new post at UMich-Flint Aug. 1, succeeding Susan E. Borrego whose term ends July 31.

A distinguished professor of engineering, Dutta is going back to Michigan where he was an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in 1989 and went on to become a professor in 2000.

“Dr. Dutta brings a lifetime of academic leadership experience and accomplishment to his new position at the University of Michigan-Flint,” President Mark Schlissel is quoted saying in a press release on the university website. “I welcome him back to Michigan and look forward to working with him and the entire UM-Flint community to advance the university’s legacy of educational access, academic strength and service to the region.”

As director of the College of Engineering’s Program in Manufacturing at UMich, Dutta founded the Interdisciplinary Professional Programs. He described UM-Flint as “a campus with exciting possibilities” where he looks forward to working with faculty, staff, students and the community.

According to the UMich press release, Dutta’s administration at the Rutgers campus “brought focus and accountability in key areas, increased research funding, and worked effectively with legislators, business leaders and alumni to create institutional momentum around academic excellence, student success and affordability.”

In July 2018, a year into his appointment at Rutgers, Dutta resigned. In an email he sent to the Rutgers administration, which was reported in Northjersey.com, July 25, 2018, Dutta said, “The past year, as chancellor of the flagship campus at Rutgers, has been immensely rewarding. However, during this time it has become clear that my vision for the chancellorship is not in alignment with that of the University.”

Dutta held high positions in other leading academic institutions before going to Rutgers. From 2014 to 2017, he was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity at Purdue University; Dutta also provided leadership for the implementation of the board-approved restructuring of Purdue’s regional campuses, the U-M-Flint press release said.

From 2009 to 2014, he was associate provost and dean of the graduate college at university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and also interim vice chancellor for research.

A graduate of Jadavpur University, Calcutta, Dutta did his Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Purdue, and secured a masters in engineering management from the University of Evansville, Illinois. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and has served as a scholar-in-residence at the National Academy of Engineering.

Dutta is married to Fataneh Taghaboni-Dutta, a clinical professor of business administration at the Gies School of Business at the University of Illinois.

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