Growing up in the largest city in India taught Ravi Dharwadkar about diversity. In the former Bombay (now Mumbai, which has swelled to nearly 20 million people today), everyone was a minority “in some way,” says Dharwadkar, professor of management and chair of the Whitman School’s Department of Management.
“I was exposed to friends from different traditions and cultures and grew to count one and all as part of my extended family. This helped me to learn to appreciate different people for who they were,” says Dharwadkar, who joined the faculty in 1998 and was named a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence in 2014.
“I suspect that the vast diversity within my family and friends perhaps helps me appreciate other points of view and allows me to walk in other peoples’ shoes, making it easier for me to connect with all my students,” he says.
Dharwadkar makes it a point to emphasize how diversity has touched almost every aspect of his life as he serves on various University committees.
He co-chaired the Internationalization Council, which, he says, laid the groundwork for focusing on an emerging Asia with an emphasis on China and India. “Some colleagues tend to live in their Eurocentric pasts,” he says. “It is my fervent hope that we begin to train more students in Asian languages and also open up new Study Abroad centers in Asia, when possible in the post-pandemic environment.” As a member of Syracuse University’s Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, he and two other committee members recommended including more diverse perspectives when the book commemorating the milestone, Forever Orange, was under development.
On the Faculty Salary Review Committee several years ago, he helped generate a quantitative report to enable faculty members to evaluate gender and ethnicity inequities in pay. Now, as co-chair of the Senate’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Gender Pay Equity, he leads an effort to let faculty members assess whether inequities exist and identify ways to remove them.
Within the Department of Management, there has been a surge in students majoring in management. The average number of management majors increased by 65% (127 to 210) from 2014 to 2018, for which he credits the department’s faculty. This has led to two cluster hire positions, one in diversity, equity and inclusion, and one in technology strategy. While faculty members publish articles on traditional areas of research—such as organizational behavior, strategy and corporate governance—the department is well aware of the changing nature of work and workplaces and the need to create new research fields, according to Dharwadkar.
The cluster hires “fit the department’s long-term plan to add fresh research dimensions as well as develop two major-related teaching tracks” focusing on human resources issues and firm strategy, he says. To keep up with the rapidly changing global environment and emerging workplace challenges, the department organized a conference on “The Changing Nature of Work and Workplaces” in summer 2019.
“My colleagues invest heavily in our students to help them outperform competitors in interviews leading to entry-level jobs where employers seek well-rounded students who have functional, as well as managerial, skills,” he says.
Dharwadkar received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India; a master’s degree in management from XLRI, Jamshedpur, India; and a Ph.D. in management from the University of Cincinnati. His awards include the inaugural Whitman Research Fellowship, the Whitman Teaching Fellowship and the University’s Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award. In 2017, he was selected as part of the inaugural top 40 professors by Poets and Quants for Undergrads.
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