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Jayathi Murthy becomes President of Oregon State University

Former IITian prioritises diversity and inclusion as the premier institution all set to raise US$1.75 billion for new initiatives and unveils a US$200 million global research centre

New Delhi: Indian-born eminent educator Jayathi Y. Murthy has become the 16th President of the Oregon State University (OSU) – one of the top universities in the United States renowned worldwide for its cutting-edge research and facilities, particularly in the fields of AI, robotics and advanced technology.

Murthy, 64, is the first woman of colour to lead OSU that works on addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the planet, from climate change to sustainability.

An IIT Kanpur alum, Murthy is a higher education engineering teaching, research, and service leader. She is widely recognised as a champion for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and has made it her top priority at OSU.

Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is a deeply held conviction of mine and is central to my work as an educator and administrator,” Murthy said. “As an engineer, I have often been the only woman in the room since I was 16.” Murthy said international engagement and contributing to a global community are OSU priorities.

At Oregon State, we celebrate the contributions and perspectives of more than 2,500 international students from over 100 countries and many international faculty and scholars engaged in the university. The unique backgrounds and experiences of international students and faculty enrich Oregon State’s teaching, research and community engagement.”

The US public university has more than 34,000 students enrolled in various academic and research programmes. Indian students comprise the second largest group of international students at OSU after China.

As someone who came to the U.S. to attend graduate school from India, I know the challenges – and new opportunities – you may face,” Murthy said. “Please know that at Oregon State, we are here to support you. And we welcome you warmly to Beaver Nation.”

My journey is a story of access to education and the opportunity to grow and achieve. I thank my parents for being incredibly far-seeing. They gave me opportunities as a young girl in India to attend one of the country’s finest engineering schools. My parents allowed me to come to America for graduate school. My education enabled me to pursue private industry and academia opportunities, and now to serve as Oregon State’s president.”

Murthy assumes leadership of Oregon State at a time of significant momentum within Oregon’s most prominent university that has seen OSU set records in enrollment, research and philanthropy.

In October this year, OSU and OSU Foundation launched a major fundraising and engagement campaign to raise US$1.75 billion to support a range of priority initiatives. Donors have already committed more than US$1 billion to the campaign, with US$460 million earmarked for student support, including scholarships, fellowships and experiential learning funds and US$500 million for faculty positions and academic program support.

The University has also announced a US$200 million research and education center that will harness one of the United States’ most powerful supercomputers and team-based research in artificial intelligence, materials science and robotics to solve global challenges in areas such as climate science, oceanography, sustainability and water resources.

The center will be named the Jen-Hsun and Lori Huang Collaborative Innovation Complex following a gift of US$50 million to the OSU Foundation from Jen-Hsun Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA, and his wife Lori, both of whom are OSU graduates. 

The Jen-Hsun and Lori Huang Collaborative Innovation Complex at Oregon State University will be much more than a building. It will serve as a university-wide promise and a hub for advancing groundbreaking solutions for the betterment of humanity, the environment and the economy,” said Murthy.

The center will employ an NVIDIA supercomputer to support faculty in addressing highly complex and challenging computational problems. The OSU supercomputer – powered by next-generation NVIDIA CPUs, GPUs and networking – is expected to be among the world’s fastest university supercomputers, powerful enough to train the largest AI models and perform complex digital twin simulations.

AI is the most transformative technology of our time,” said Jen-Hsun and Lori Huang. “To harness this force, engineering students need access to a supercomputer, a time machine, to accelerate their research. This new AI supercomputer will enable OSU students and researchers to advance in climate science, oceanography, materials science, robotics, and other fields.”

An INTO survey released earlier this year revealed that computer science has emerged as the second most preferred subject for Indian students looking to study abroad after engineering. In total, 12% of millennial and Gen Z students say they are interested in computer science – second only to engineering (18%) and ahead of business studies (11%).

The cutting-edge research center will further consolidate Oregon State University’s position as one of the most preferred destinations for frontier areas of science and technology among international students,” said Olivia Streatfeild, CEO of INTO University Partnerships – OSU’s partner for international student recruitment.

From India to China, Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, we are seeing a huge interest for OSU among some of the world’s most talented young people who want to be part of the learning and research that can shape the future of our world,” said Streatfeild.

Before taking the leadership role at OSU, Ms Murthy served as the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Murthy received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University and a Bachelor of Technology degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Murthy is married to Sanjay Mathur, an aerospace engineer.