Shankar Prasad PhD’06, vice president for academic innovation and deputy provost for strategic initiatives, was appointed as the next dean of the School of Professional Studies, according to a March 22 Today@Brown announcement from Provost Richard Locke P ’18. Prasad will succeed Leah VanWey, the current dean and professor of sociology, as she moves into her new role as Dean of the Faculty July 1. Prasad will also keep his position as vice president for academic innovation.
In his new role, Prasad is tasked with “delivering several executive master’s and short-form programs,” as well as “supporting the vast majority of early-career master’s students across our campus,” Locke wrote in the announcement. He will do so “through coordinated administrative and student support services including admissions, marketing, career advising and student activities.”
Prasad has served in numerous leadership roles at the University. Prior to his current position, he served as associate director of the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, assistant provost for strategic initiatives and associate and then deputy provost for global engagement and strategic initiatives. In 2016, he collaborated with Locke on the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
Prasad has recently “led the development of initiatives to reach learners across the globe through digital education platforms … (and) helped to launch the successful pandemic problem solving course and a business bootcamp run in partnership with Hult International Business School,” Locke wrote. He also “partnered with the School of Public Health to launch an online MPH program, the University’s first exclusively online degree program.”
Through his work as the interim faculty director for the Master of Public Affairs, Prasad said he “had the opportunity to work directly with graduate students and our staff and faculty in developing and running a graduate program” — an experience he said will serve him well in the new position.
Having worked closely with Prasad on several programs including DIAP, Locke told The Herald that he has “a great appreciation” for Prasad’s “intelligence, his work ethic, his core values.”
In working with Prasad to restructure the School of Professional Studies, Locke observed “how well (Prasad) was engaging with the staff (and) how well he understood the landscape of professional education.”
VanWey also expressed support for Prasad’s appointment. “He's been… thinking broadly about the ways in which we make Brown education more accessible to people who maybe don't have the time to move away from their homes and take a fourth year of it, who don't have the money to come to Brown, who don't have the access to a high school education that would get them into Brown,” she said. “He's been thinking about these issues of access and innovation for a number of years now.”
She explained that this focus on accessibility is suitable for the School of Professional Studies, which serves “people who are looking for a short-term educational activity which will help them move forward in their careers” as well as the “unique, creative, innovative nature of a Brown education.”
Prasad plans to remain dedicated to removing these barriers to accessible education in his next role. “Education is such an incredibly important force in our lives. It was an incredibly important force in my life as a kid of immigrants in this country,” he said. “Anything that I can do to reduce those barriers to try to make education more affordable, to try to make it more accessible through these various innovations, is something that I think is incredibly important.”
“Brown is at this amazing moment of growth and prominence and opportunity to have impact in the real world through educating professionals,” VanWey said. Prasad’s “going to be able to do this amazing job at a really exciting moment for Brown.”