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Virinder Moudgil
Virinder Moudgil

Virinder Moudgil

President and CEO, Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technological University

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My family background
My family belonged to Ludhiana district for generations. I grew up in a large family with a lot of supervision and care. My father, Pandit Harbhagwan Moudgil, was a prominent Ludhiana attorney of Punjab Highcourt and was a highly respected public servent. He served in the state legislature and was a chief whip of the party in the Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon era. The family home was open 24-hr to folks from nearby villagers visitng town, and host to visits by many state and national leaders and also hosted the first batch of Peace Corpse volunteer from Italy. Professionally, our family is proud to have produced many teachers, professors, engineers, lawyers, army officers and University officers. The second and third generations have a number of physicians, many now in the US. A number of villages in Lidhiana have paved roads and water access, schools for children and a college for women that carry major contributions of my father. Service to others was in the family genes
My achievements
During my time as as faculty, a number of bright students have received training to become physicians, professors and scientists. As a scientist, I am proud of a number of our team's research findings that led to important scientific discoveries by us and others. Hosting a visit by former president APJ Kalam and spending time with him was one of my most precious proud moments. I am also proud of a number of colleagues I have mentored who are now leaders in the academy serving as deans, provosts and president of universities. As an administrator, I was able to work with the institutional leadership to bring a law school to our campus and later developed an allopathic school of medicine in partnership with a major hospital system. In my current position, I am thrilled to lead a team of colleagues, faculty and staff that has charted a way for the university to become a pre-eminent private university producing leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit and global view.
Initiative to develop a country
Maintaining a connection with professionals and institutions in India is a start. Many current scientific leaders in India have either received training in my research laboratory or participated in exchange of ideas, materials, visits. I also spent a month in India in 1989 working with young scientists and students sharing expertise. Collaboration with Indians professionals and partnering in both applied and basic science and projects can help speed progress. India could also emphasize applied research in science, agriculture and technology with reasonable accountability. India spends a lot of money within its resources but much of it goes to established senior researchers and professionals. There is a need to empower young technically superb professionals to launch innovative and entrepreneurial projects. India has all the talent; it just needs nurturing. Facilitate successful patriotic professionals to return to India to work in supportive environments.
Degree that I recommend
Science and Engineering are in demand in the US. India continues to produce more engineers than most advanced nations. Indian education is solid and fundamental. However, the need is not the more degrees but their relevance to industry, growth and national advancement. For example, in the US, most scientific and technical degrees are now being coupled with innovation and entrepreneurship. Stem-Cell research and its clinical applications, STEM education to strengthen technology, software engineering, biomedical engineering, robotics, are some among many new directions in the academy. Skilled expertise are on equal footing with universoty degrees. Afterall, an a non-university degree holder electrician is more valuable than a degree holder who can not fix a machine or electric equipment be it a household machine or a jet or a spacecraft. Trade schools have, afterall, a great value that is economical and of practical value.
Ensuring success
Interaction with people I admire and learn from new advancements in the education world, corporate culture and social arena are indispensable for me in persuit of personal growth. I also seek and enjoy intellectual growth by maintaining my interest in music, urdu poetry, philosophy, India-British history and socio-political developments in India and the US. A recent initiative I have launched as the Global Village at Lawrence Tech is a fine example of learning from other cultures, languages, customs and traditions while simultaneously appreciating American values of democracy and individual freedom. I am a cumpulsive reader and love to read developments in nearly all fields of life.
Brief description about me
I was born and raised in Ludhiana, Punjab and completed my BSc degree from Punjab Univ. and PhD from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, I came to the US in 1973 to join the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to continue my interest and post-doctoral research in steroid hormone action under the guidance of Dr. David Toft who had in 1960s reported the initial nature and characteristics of estrogen receptor protein. Subsequently I joined Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan in 1976 to launch an academic career that spanned 36 years. After initial appointment as an assistant professor of biological sciences, I received tenure and full professorship culminating in my appointment in 1994 as the department chair. My research on the mode of action of steroid hormones was funded by the National Institutes of Health. I served as the provost (chief academic officer) of the university 2001-2012. In July 2012, I joined Lawrence Technological University as president and CEO.
Influenced by
I read some time ago that the most important value of a life is to leave something that outlasts it. I do hope a few things I have follwed and initiated will outlive me and will continue to benefit those who are impacted. I am most influenced by my father who taught me the meaning of the expression "work like a horse and live like a saint." He worked tirelessly to serve others, take care of his family and make lives better for thousands, if not millions. Even when he reached a high social status, he embraced and helped people from all ladders of society. He never forgot his roots and was a humble high achiever. My scientific teachers also influenced me greatly for their thoughtful and careful mentoring emphasizing decency and civility in a very competitive research environment.
Important lesson learned
Nothing is automatic, even when it seems so. A lot of effort is invested by others behind any observable success although on the surface it may appear simple. One has to work hard and honestly to achieve one's goals. Keep it simple or make it simple - things that are complex and hard to understand or to follow. There is room for all of us - give chance to others to succeed. No one is self made - many people help make you who you are - your family, parents, teachers, friends, supporters, and people who give you opportunities and support. Be kind and forgiving to unload the burden of the past.
Thoughts on Education system of our country
A large number of leaders, engineers, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs of Indian origin are known for their achievements working in Silicon Valley, NASA, Microsoft or other noted corporations. Many are graduates of Indian universities and institutes. So why did they leave India or were unable to achieve the same success in India? A palusible explanation is that the difference lies in the degree of freedom to explore, opportunities, open competition and system for discussion, environment that supports individual freedom growth and innovation. No status-quo or special status to former leaders or people with influence, no age or other barriers. While we do have many of the same challenges we experience in developing India, the degree of these is much smaller and at alower scale in the US.
Important decision
Stay focused on the job and do it as good it can be done. People notice your credentials and work ethics and opportunites follow. I am a beleiver in the old American expression "the harder I work, luckier I get." I had not imagined the opportunities that have come my way - fortunate and lucky for sure. One thing leads to another when you do it right what you do. And do it with passion - it is infectious and noticeable. My patritic feelings never left me and I tried to return to India in 1976 but it did not work out based on my interest and what might have been be available at that time. Returning to US, I felt fortunate that my experience, credentials and potential were recognized. I, therfore, felt it to be my responsibility to give my best at any thing I was to undertake as a professional. There are hundreds and thousands who are more qualified, but I did what needed to be done to justify opportunities and return to the community and the country which gave me so much.
More about myself
India produces great people and great minds. USA produces great innovators and entrepreneurs employing those talents around the globe. The two democracies have much in common and partnership and collaboration between our two people will strengthen economic, political and national issues of importance.
My role model
My personal role model remains my father - a proud son and a great father, a man honest to limit and achiever by example and selfless hard work. Professionally, my mentors in research were great role models who infused curosity and logic an all we do. Nationally, it is Mahatama Gandhi - who gave up all the luxuries and comfort to stand with the right to show the world a way to light from darkness.
My strongest skill
Communication. Goal-oriented. Appreciate the cultured and sophistication in others. Professional approaches to all I do. Understanding and supporting the needful, the young minds, students and colleagues. Ability to identify personal strengths and weeknesses, and the same in professional work environment. Be courteous and respectful to all, and responsible for my actions.
Couple of years from now
Growing personally but serving in the current capacity or one that is related. Frankly, my entire professional life has been driven by past achievements and vision for the future. Diplomacy (making peace between people, nations) attracts me but it is not in my bag of credentials or circumstances.
Qualities needed to become a successful leader
The most important quality is to have unquestionable integrity. Your word should matter and no one should question your motives other than those expressed. People and those who work with or for you should believe in what you say or do. You lead by example. A leader must be above smallness, vindictiveness and lead by providing a clear message and vision rather than name calling one's opponents or competition. As they say, ordinary people seize opportunities and become great leaders. Courage and passion for what you do combined with some luck make you a great leader.
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