Illinois Tech Inaugurates Raj Echambadi as 10th President

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Members of the Illinois Institute of Technology community gathered with local and national academic, civic, and business leaders on Friday, September 17, to welcome Raj Echambadi as the university’s 10th president.

The inauguration marks the beginning of a new chapter for Illinois Tech, centered on a renewed push to advance the university’s founding purpose: to liberate the collective power of difference to advance technology and progress for all.

“The audacious aspiration to be an opportunity engine for all drives everything we do at Illinois Tech,” says Echambadi. “It is what calls us to expand horizons through unparalleled instruction, to tackle real-world challenges through relevance-inspired research, and to inspire our students to become socially conscious citizens of the world who are committed to changing their communities for the better.”

As a part of his inaugural address, Echambadi laid out four pillars for his vision of future growth. “First, we must recommit ourselves to our role as an engine for opportunity,” says Echambadi. “Secondly, we must embrace this unique moment in time to help reimagine the future of education for all. Third, as always, we must remain laser focused on empowering our students in order to create pathways into good jobs and position them for future success. Lastly, we must dedicate ourselves to fostering a culture of purpose-driven citizenship.”

In addition to remarks from current university leaders, the inauguration ceremony featured student speakers, speeches from two former living presidents, and a keynote speech from James C. Bean, a higher education consultant who served as an academic leader at distinguished universities for nearly three decades, most recently as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern University.

Echambadi, who joined the university on August 16 of this year, has a long track record of leveraging technology to disrupt and advance higher education to make it more accessible, competitive, and relevant to the needs of our modern economy and society, most recently while serving as the Dunton Family Dean at D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Echambadi served as the Alan J. and Joyce D. Baltz Professor and senior associate dean of strategic innovation at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a driving force behind the University of Illinois’s scaled online M.B.A. (iMBA) program, Echambadi has been instrumental in helping to provide increased access to an innovative education to students across the globe. The iMBA program has been lauded as a breakthrough in graduate education and one of the best disruptive innovations of the past decade.

“President Echambadi’s sterling track record for developing forward-thinking academic programs at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities speaks for itself,” says Michael P. Galvin (LAW ’78), chairman of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees. “But his deeply held belief in who we are as a community, and what we can achieve together as a university, makes him a perfect steward of our shared purpose and mission.”  

A leading academic research expert in organizational strategic innovation, Echambadi has developed new and forward-looking academic programs designed to empower student success in a dynamic marketplace. The majority of his academic research has focused on strategic innovation within organizations and how companies should balance current and future opportunities. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration from Anna University in India and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Houston. His research on employee entrepreneurship won the prestigious Academy of Management Journal Best Paper Award.

At Northeastern, Echambadi created the Office of Student Engagement, Affinity, and Inclusion and helped to launch its Building Belonging Fellows, Pathfinders, and Peer Affinity Cohorts to empower students from diverse backgrounds to utilize entrepreneurial skills to become change makers, while cultivating a more supportive and inclusive on-campus experience for all students.

“Driven by Illinois Tech’s strength as a leader in experiential learning that fuses the rigor of the classroom with the relevance of the real world, we need to create curricula that marries technology and human-centered skills such as ethical reasoning, entrepreneurship, computational thinking, and innovation, and a culture that kindles curiosity, sparks the innovative spirit, and educates our students to be engaged citizens of the world,” says Echambadi. “Empowering our students this way will allow them to be impactful leaders in their communities and help shape a more equitable world.”

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