Q & A with Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan

Q & A with Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan

An expert in business information systems is the new leader of the Black School of Business. Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan brings with him years of international academic and business experience. He’s worked with universities in the United States, India, China, and Taiwan, and partnered with IBM, Ford, GM, and Daimler Chrysler on research and consulting.

“Dr. Rajagopalan’s experience will help advance the direction of the Black School, including the open lab concept, where students, faculty members, and business leaders collaborate,” said Dr. Don Birx, Chancellor. Behrend Magazine had a number of questions for the new director, including:

Q. What is your impression of the Black School?

The quality of both the faculty members and students is impressive. Faculty members are clearly passionate about their work, and the students I met displayed a real drive to succeed. The Black School is among an elite group of institutions with AACSB accreditation. Fewer than 5 percent of business schools worldwide have achieved this distinction! The interdisciplinary programs developed are evidence of a college that leverages its intellectual capital for innovation.

Q. What will be your first order of business?

To learn more about the college and the Black School through the eyes of all stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, industry partners, community leaders, benefactors, and more.

Q. What is your perspective on the open lab concept(bringing students and faculty together with business and industry partners)?

I have always maintained strong ties with industry through consulting engagements, teaching in executive programs, and applied research projects. The open lab concept of learning was an important part of my considering this position. Throughout my career, I have implemented various incarnations of the concept, and I am excited about its potential to enhance learning for Black School students. The idea of open lab is a classic example of how Behrend is focusing on student learning through an innovative platform.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

I strive to build trust, inspire, and empower those I work with. I encourage a collaborative culture and believe in setting goals and empowering teams to achieve them. Above all, I believe it’s important to maintain an attitude of humility and a sense of humor in one’s daily work.


Vital Statistics

Age: 46

Family: Wife, Sukanya Rangarajan; daughter, Shreya, 9.

Previous position: Pro vice chancellor and dean at Galgotias University in Greater Noida, India, and professor of management information systems at Oakland University in Michigan.

Degree: B.S. in mechanical engineer, Andhra University, India; M.S. and Ph.D. in management information systems, University of Memphis.

Leisure activities: Reading, watching sports, and spending time with family.

Currently reading: The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely.

Pet peeve: Negative attitudes

Personal philosophy: "Care about people around you just a little more than you care about yourself."

What people would be surprised to know about him: His dream job is to do stand-up comedy.