New dean of graduate studies looks toward future
Prior to being appointed as the School of Graduate and Professional Studies Dean in February, Manohar Singh managed a diverse portfolio.
From his time at Humboldt State University in California and his position as a division head at Penn State, coming to Southern not only offered him an extraordinary match to his skill set, but also gave him a chance to live closer to family.
Singh said his vision for graduate and certificate programs is based on a holistic and comprehensive approach. Teaching students relevant, applicable and transferable skill sets, he said, will help them become the future leaders of the next generation.
“You have to be a good writer and a good critical thinker and an engineering thought-processed mind,” said Singh, “those things—writing skills, communication skills, numerical, analytic skills— are intertwined.”
Part of his plan also consists of providing graduate studies with more dynamism and flexibility
as well as making the courses more affordable by adding accelerated programs.
A 4+1 program gives an opportunity for students to finish their studies in one year after obtaining a bachelors, as opposed to two.
“You save one-year worth of tuition, and boarding and lodges expenses as a student,” said Singh. “Hence, your student debt does not pile another year. And the other thing is that you go to the job market earlier.”
The programs are specially designed to directly and positively impact the community, he said. For instance, Medical Spanish ensures that medical professionals are trained for the culturally-sensitive demographics that are changing in Connecticut.
“We are promoting what students need. The most effective and efficient way to graduate with the best possible skills for them to land a job of their choice and work with dignity,” he said.
Implementing these programs, he said, will not be without a collective voice to approve it. Advice and feedback would come from faculty, staff, students and alumni. A lengthy process, but time well worth spent, he said.
Singh also said some of the continuous challenges have been constrained access to resources. However, he wants to ensure that the university is able to generate additional resources from within the community, or support from the state.
“Resources will be always be kind of something that we will work on to make sure they’re not limiting our efforts to grow and build excellent academic program[s] at graduate level,” said Singh.
He said his parents were an example of inspiring perseverance throughout all his life and they had taught him to spread the blessings he had back to the community.
He is the youngest of seven children, and he said his family was uprooted from Pakistan and lived in near poverty in India during the India and Pakistan split in 1947.
“My mom and dad both did not go to school. Not even elementary school properly,” said Singh, “but they worked hard. They sent us to school, and they had a big, strong faith in education.”
He said it is important for his students to know that everyone has the potential “to do an impactful and dignified choice when it comes to professions.”
He said in recognizing the university’s strong legacy, he felt stagnancy and decline in enrollment numbers are problems that need to be fixed to return to the “glory days” of the university.