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Building from the ground up

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I’ve been on this job long enough (just a little more than two months) to know that I have a good gig. What’s not to like about getting to pursue your professional passion at a place that is close to your heart – and getting an office with a view of Indiana and Kirkwood to boot?

Still, every now and again a perk drops into my lap that even I don’t expect. My first helicopter ride falls into that category.

IU President Michael McRobbie and OP Jindal Global University Chancellor Naveen Jindal talk shop on the flight to JGU's campus in Sonipat Sept. 3.

We were scheduled to spend Saturday morning at the IU-OP Jindal Global University joint conference on globalization on the JGU campus in Sonipat, about 40 miles outside of Delhi. Instead of piling into our serviceable but hardly plush seven-seat bus as planned, however, we were the guests of JGU Chancellor Naveen Jindal who also happens to be one of India’s leading business executives and a member of Parliament.

You see, OP Jindal Global University is Naveen Jindal’s baby, formed less than three years ago to honor his late father and to help address the growing need for quality institutions of higher education necessary to boost India’s college graduation rate.

Jindal is among a small, but growing cadre of business leaders turned philanthropists who are pouring their energy – and a lot of money – into i

mproving India’s higher educational system.

Naveen Jindal, earned his MBA at the University of Texas – Dallas before returning home to help lead the family business built by his father and now run by his mother and win a seat in the lower house of Parliament. Now, he’s using his financial resources, business savvy and political clout to build a university that literally is rising out of what had been farmland.

He’s a guy in a hurry (hence the helicopter) who has the wherewithal to make things happen quickly.  He has recruited Raj Kumar, a talented lawyer and academic, to serve as Vice Chancellor (the equivalent of president at a U.S. university), who in turn is attracting a strong faculty to JGU.

JGU currently has 600 students in its thr

The largest Indian flag in the nation marks the center of campus at OP Jindal Global University in Sonipat.

ee schools  – business law and international affairs — and will grow to approximately 2,500 students over the next few years, as well as add a school of government and public policy next year.  It’s the newest school that has Jindal especially excited because he says it fills a desperate need.

“Our politicians need to be better trained so they know how to make the right decisions, and there really are no schools to do this,” Jindal says. “I know such an education would have helped me be a better member of Parliament, and I want to help others.”

JGU will get help in its mission through a partnership with IU’s highly regarded School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The partnership will involve student and faculty exchanges, as well as joint programming. It builds on existing relationships between JGU and the Kelley School of Business and the Maurer Law School.

This latest India partnership is part of IU’s philosophy of working with new universities with a bright future in the hope that our relationship will grow as our partner grows.

Judging from the speed with which Naveen Jindal and JGU are moving, it could be quite a ride.

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