Nikhil Sinha, vice chancellor of Shiv Nadar University in India, announces the school's recently developed partnership with Duke at the Nasher Museum of Art Thursday afternoon.
Nikhil Sinha, vice chancellor of Shiv Nadar University in India, announces the school's recently developed partnership with Duke at the Nasher Museum of Art Thursday afternoon.

The University has committed itself to yet another global collaboration, this time in India.

Provost Peter Lange and Nikhil Sinha, vice chancellor of Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, India, signed a memorandum of understanding indicating the two institutions’ intent to pursue collaborations as SNU—which opened in 2011—continues to develop. Additionally, Sinha and Martha Putallaz, executive director of Duke’s Talent Identification Program, signed a memorandum signifying the forthcoming collaboration of TIP and SNU to develop strategies for educating gifted youth. TIP has enrolled 4,200 Indian students since 2008, Putallaz said.

Thursday’s event, which took place at the Nasher Museum of Art, featured a presentation by Indian industrialist and philanthropist Shiv Nadar, founder of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. Nadar highlighted the importance of education for creating leaders—his foundation, which was founded in 1994, includes a school system of multiple branches.

“Great leaders come from great education institutions,” Nadar said. “Great governance takes place from three fundamental places—meritocracy, raising their aspirations and a world class platform.”

The agreement signed between Duke and SNU will serve as a framework for future collaborations as SNU, which is still in its early stages, develops. SNU is meant to emulate modern American research universities such as Duke, Sinha said.

SNU, offering programs in eight major disciplines, will be home to about 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students and 800 faculty and researchers when it reaches its full maturity, Sinha said.

“We have had the opportunity at the [Shiv Nadar] Foundation to visit with and partner with and engage in discussions with a number of the great universities of the world,” Sinha said. “But for some reason... there is a great connection between what Duke University is today and what SNU is aspiring to be.”

Sinha signed the memorandum with Lange, who noted that members of the University community take for granted the importance of education when they get caught up in their daily routines. He added that the partnership helps remind Duke of how crucial education is.

“The remarks we heard from Shiv Nadar... remind us that every day we are engaged in an activity which is fundamentally transformative for the people who are involved,” Lange said. “This partnership is not just practical partnership, but it’s a partnership rooted in sheer ambition and sheer inspiration.”

President Richard Brodhead introduced Nadar, noting the parallels between Nadar and James Buchanan Duke, both of whom have histories of entrepreneurship—Nadar played a key role in the development of microprocessors and founded the technology company HCL—and went on to donate their wealth to the development of educational institutions. He lauded Nadar to donating his money far earlier in his career than J.B. Duke did.

“You have the same idea as James B. Duke, which is that you can use your personal success to create the means of education for others on the same understanding that education is the thing and the only thing that holds the key to individual human potential, and in doing so, it also creates the means for social advancement,” Brodhead said.

Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton and Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding have been involved in preliminary discussions, even though specific manifestations of the collaboration have not been established yet, said Michael Merson, interim vice president and vice provost for global strategy and programs.

Patton noted India’s rich history of education—including the country’s early examples of critical thinking—which she said goes largely unnoticed in the United States.

“There are many more family resemblances between the Indian education system and the American liberal arts system than we have previously understood,” Patton said. “The time for partnership is very important.... We’re closer to our origins than many universities are in the United States, and therefore, we can have a certain connection and partnership with Shiv Nadar as well.”