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Meet chancellor of new IU Indianapolis

Interview with Latha Ramchand, chancellor of new IU Indianapolis

Video with this story is the entire interview with Latha Ramchand.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s been just days since the new chancellor began work at what will soon be IU Indianapolis.

Latha Ramchand was named chancellor of IU Indianapolis and executive vice president of Indiana University. The position became effective Feb. 12, according to the school system.

In June, educators announced IUPUI will be splitting into IU Indianapolis and Purdue University in Indianapolis. The transition is expected to be finished in June.

Ramchand will run the helm at IU Indianapolis during what is to be one of the school’s most defining moments as it stands alone as IU Indianapolis.

Ramchand said in an interview with News 8, “We’re all writing the playbook as we go.”

“Student success is certainly is a big focus,” Ramchand said. “I serve my students and, if they don’t succeed, that’s on me.”

“Our roles are service roles. The day I forget that, I do not deserve to be in this role.”

Ramchand says she’s been included on big decisions, include which programs stay part of IU Indianapolis and what happens to the students. “There are a lot of details that have been worked out so that the student and faculty member feels this is going to be a seamless transition.”

Part of Ramchand’s focus will be assuring talent at the new college — she referred to the talent as “human capital” — stays in the area once students graduate.

Ramchand says 90% of students stay in the area but she wants to increase the percentage.

“What’s happening here in Indianapolis is really compelling,” Ramchand said.

She pointed specifically to the field of biosciences as an example, noting a new co-op between the university and pharmaceutical giant Lilly that would allow students to take classes while working in paid positions at the company.

“We give them the opportunity to work before they graduate, and, when you do that, they become job-ready. In doing that, we are providing jobs, developing the workforce, and fostering a growth and economic development.”

“The bioscience industry here is very strong, significant, and we have a talent base that can help us take that research that our facility is doing in those areas, and convert it to innovations that will help all of us deal will our health challenges.”

“We are really working closely with the community so that when our students graduate they are already in demand because the programs we created were based on demand that we heard from industry.”

Ramchand said that another goal was to “provide a great experience for our students so they are not just academically qualified, but they’re also ready to take on their careers have choices.”

“That’s certainly a priority of mine,” she said. “Enabling to succeed is really what drives me.”

She also cited research as a priority. “We are an urban, public, research university. We graduate the human capital the industry in this region needs, and that’s going to foster economic growth and development.”

Ramchand also suggests bringing a “sense of urgency” to academia at the school. “We need to bring a sense of urgency to what we’re doing. In academia, the norm is things take a long time to work themselves out. It’s two years before anything happens, not just for us, but across academic institutions.”

“The usual reason for that delay is we need everyone’s input. We can absolutely get input. In this day and age, through technology, we can speed up the process” to allow decisions to be made.

“Execution has to happen with a sense of urgency,” she said.

Ramchand also notes that she calls Indianapolis her home. She was raised in Mumbai, India, the nation’s largest city and home to more than 14 million people, according to a 2019 article published by USA Today.

“I love the city,” she said. “I love the vibe of being in an urban environment.”

Ramchand said that she appreciated “the way the community has empowered sports to be a big part” of the areas make up.

Ramchand proudly touted her own education as a “first-generation student” with master’s and bachelor’s degrees in economics from the University of Mumbai and a doctoral degree in finance from Northwestern University.

She said her education opened doors that would not have been opened otherwise.

Before coming to Indianapolis, Ramchand served as provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri, where she had been since 2018. Before that, Ramchand served as dean of the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, according to the schools website. She served in that position starting in 2011 after joining the school in 1993.