For the last 20 years, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has welcomed nearly a dozen highly successful leaders to campus as a Poling Chair of Business and Government.
Like the late Harold “Red” Poling, who as chief executive of Ford Motor Co. established the leader-in-resident program in 1993, many of them have been proud IU and Kelley alumni.
This past week, Deepender S. Hooda, a 2003 Kelley graduate and a member of India’s parliament since 2005, joined that select group.
During his visit, he lectured to classes at Kelley and the IU Maurer School of Law. He dined with undergraduate and graduate students from across the university, including many from India.
IU President Michael McRobbie, IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel and deans and administrators this week have sought his input about IU’s growing efforts in the world’s fastest growing society.
Hooda also did things most IU alumni do. He attended an exciting IU-Michigan football game and introduced his wife Sweta to the beauty and vibrancy of the IU Bloomington campus and nearby Brown County.
“I just love being here,” said Hooda, who represents Rohtak, a city in the state of Haryana, and serves as party whip of the Indian National Congress in the lower house of India’s parliament. “I’m really happy to see how the campus has changed over the last 13 years.
“I really like the direction in which the university leadership is taking the university,” he said, citing the new School of Global and International Studies and several infrastructure projects on campus, including Hodge Hall. “That is going to provide a great competitive advantage for IU in days to come.”
Among the “marvelous initiatives” that Hooda said IU has undertaken in India is its Gateway Office in Gurgaon, a suburb about 20 miles southwest of New Delhi and in the legislative district that Hooda represents.
“The IU Gateway is the facility that all the programs and all the schools within the university are using to establish their relationships with their counterparts in India,” he said. “IU is ahead of the curve as far as its India strategy is concerned and compared to most universities in the U.S.”
He cited the Kelley School’s partnerships with the Indian Institute of Management campuses at Lucknow and Rohtak and O.P. Jindal Global University’s collaborations with Kelley, Maurer and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
“From a business school point of view, my estimate is there are just five top business schools in the U.S. that have laid out their own India strategy. These five include the Harvard Business School, MIT, Stanford, Duke and Kelley,” he said.
IU has also formed strong and productive partnerships with several other top Indian universities, including the University of Hyderabad, Symbiosis International University, Elite School of Optometry and SHODH: Institute for Research and Development.
Hooda was among those on the crest of a wave of international students who are studying at U.S. colleges and universities. According to a recent report from the Institute of International Education, about 975,000 people today come from other nations to study at American institutions and Indiana University is one of the top 20 places they attend.
Indian students are big reason for this trend and today more than 1,100 are enrolled at IU. There also are about 4,300 IU alumni affiliated with India, who, along with the hundreds of scholars, dignitaries and students who have visited IU campuses, comprise IU’s ever-growing global community.
Hooda also is an example of the many international students who return home and provide important contributions in their countries after earning an IU degree, and then loyally work with the university to provide similar opportunities to others.
In addition to IU’s educational quality, Hooda acknowledges other benefits for Indian and American students alike, namely increased awareness and understanding.
“One of the profound experiences that I had on campus, when I was a student, was 9/11,” he said. “I was about one month into my stay in the U.S., one month into my student life, when 9/11 shocked all of us.
“The reactions that event invoked in all of us helped me understand the diverse perspectives that each person can have … based on where that person is coming from,” he added.
This is profoundly clear, in light of recent world events in Paris, Beirut, Egypt and elsewhere.
“The global events we’ve seen recently also tell us that the world is becoming increasingly integrated,” Hooda said. “On many levels, that’s a good thing, but at the same time the problems of the world will also be shared. The world has to come together to address these problems … in ways that we have not been able to do in this century.
“An experience in Bloomington prepares you for something like that.”
Over the years, Hooda has worked to facilitate many opportunities for IU and Kelley students, arranging for them to meet top government officials and business executives in Delhi and elsewhere in the country.
In 2007, students met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who at the time was the country’s minister for external affairs and a member of the cabinet.
“Those were wonderful visits,” he said. “There is no replacement for that. You cannot learn about a culture or a country by television or by reading books … That’s what I’ve noticed with all of the groups that I’ve hosted over the years in Delhi.
“I can see, from the kinds of questions that these students begin asking, while they are there, that their level of understanding expands in the matter of a week or 10 days,” he added. “
Previous Poling Chairs have included alumni such as Randall Tobias, a former top executive at Eli Lilly and AT&T and the current chair of the IU Board of Trustees; Elizabeth Acton, retired chief financial officer of Comerica and a former vice president and treasurer of Ford Motor Co.; Frank Popoff, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Co.; and Dale Pollak, chairman and founder of vAuto, Inc.
Hooda will return in the spring, when again he’ll be given the charge to stimulate discussion in critical areas of leadership, policy, competitiveness and economic growth.