President’s Biography

Raj Echambadi became the 10th president of Illinois Institute of Technology in August 2021. Echambadi’s vision for Illinois Tech is centered on a new path to preeminence driven by four principles: first, honoring and strengthening the university’s role as an engine of opportunity and national leader in economic mobility; second, pursuing growth through reimagining education to serve learners anywhere at all stages of life; third, fueling future innovation by empowering students to become human-centered technologists; and fourth, exemplifying purpose-driven citizenship in service of Bronzeville, Chicago, and the world.

Illinois Tech has charted a path, under Echambadi’s leadership, to be a forerunner in educating the next generation of technology leaders who must translate new knowledge into practical benefits for society. As a future-focused research university, Illinois Tech is conducting relevance-inspired research that has made the university a learning lab for sustainable smart cities, food innovation, advanced manufacturing, precision healthcare and more. Illinois Tech also has launched programs that address needs in high-impact fields such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and sustainability, while also educating learners of all backgrounds through industry-aligned programs that provide them with the essential credentials for career advancement and that meet them where they are—both in their physical locations and in their lives.

To provide a direct link from education to employment, Echambadi led Illinois Tech in launching its one-of-a-kind Elevate program in fall 2022. Elevate emphasizes job readiness and guarantees that all learners take part in hands-on experiences such as research, internships, competitions, and study away, as well as receive personalized academic and career mentorship.  

By developing programs highlighting Echambadi’s guiding principles, Illinois Tech welcomed its largest class of first-year undergraduate students in its history in fall 2022, and also saw a 35 percent increase in new graduate students in spring 2023. And interest in the university has skyrocketed: applications to Illinois Tech have jumped 78 percent in the last four years.

In pursuit of reimagining education to serve all learners, Illinois Tech has partnered with the global online-learning platform Coursera to offer fully online, industry-aligned programs with performance-based admissions beginning in fall 2023. The university also launched three programs in 2023 that meet learners where they are and guarantee that higher education is attainable to all: Discover+, an undeclared major program that allows learners to explore their interests and all that the university has to offer before selecting a major at the end of their second year; the Tech+ program, which allows learners to combine two majors into one degree program that integrates tech-focused coursework with a human-centered education to create meaningful pathways into careers; and the Ascend program, a collaboration with City Colleges of Chicago that offers graduating high school seniors a cost-effective and flexible path to pursue higher education where they begin their career at a partner institution and, upon successful completion of their first year, transition seamlessly to full-time study at Illinois Tech.

This vital work ensures that Illinois Tech remains true to its founding mission to serve as an engine of opportunity for all, and Bloomberg Philanthropies recognized Illinois Tech for this work in 2023 as one of 28 American Talent Initiative (ATI) High-Fliers. High Fliers are defined as high-graduation-rate institutions that are national leaders in college access and in success for lower-income students. The university received the distinction for its high Pell Grant share and innovative recruitment, enrollment, and retention practices.

And Echambadi remains committed to making sure that the university extends opportunities to even more learners. The university has launched the Bronzeville Opportunity Engine, which was made possible through a $2 million federal grant, and will host programming in workforce development, small business and entrepreneurship education, startup incubation, and pre-collegiate programming for community members who share Illinois Tech’s home: Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. The center will provide this programming to community members in five zip codes on Chicago’s South Side.

From 2017 to 2021 Echambadi served as the Dunton Family Dean of D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. Under his leadership, D’Amore-McKim has become widely recognized for moving beyond traditional business silos and for embracing cross-disciplinary perspectives in both research and teaching. Programmatic innovations include the “MBA x” program, “MS x” program, combined undergraduate majors, and work-integrated degrees with business partners; each of these help students and learners develop multidisciplinary perspectives by blending their business studies with non-business areas of expertise, such as computer science or experiential design

Prior to joining Northeastern in August 2017, Echambadi served for eight years in various roles, including as the Alan J. and Joyce D. Baltz Professor and the senior associate dean of strategic innovation, at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Echambadi was a driving force behind the scaled online M.B.A. (iMBA) program at the University of Illinois, which has been lauded as one of the best disruptive educational innovations in the past decade.

Echambadi received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University in India and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Houston. His academic research focuses on strategic innovation within organizations and how firms should balance current and future opportunities. He has won numerous teaching and research accolades including the prestigious Academy of Management Journal Best Paper Award for his work on employee entrepreneurship.