Debashish Dutta appointed chancellor of University of Michigan-Flint

Debashish Dutta with his wife Fataneh Taghaboni-Dutta.

The University of Michigan-Flint has appointed Debasish Dutta as its new chancellor, effective Aug. 1. Dutta’s five-year appointment was approved last month by the Board of Regents, a June 20 university press release announced.

He succeeds Susan E. Borrego, who will step down from her position, when her current term is complete at the end of July. As UM-Flint chancellor, Dutta will serve as the chief executive officer of the Flint campus and also an executive officer of University of Michigan.

“I am thrilled to return to the University of Michigan to lead UM-Flint, a campus with exciting possibilities and a special place,” the press release quoted Dutta as saying. “The university has a lot to offer Flint and the region, and vice versa. I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students and the community to improve access, enhance excellence and serve the citizens of the state of Michigan.”

Dutta is a distinguished professor of engineering and the former chancellor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Last year, Dutta abruptly resigned from Rutgers just a year after his appointment. Dutta announced his resignation in a university-wide email, stating that there were differing views about his position. “It has become clear that my vision for the chancellorship is not in alignment with that of the University,” news reports said, quoting the email.

“It is only fair that I step aside and let the university select a new leader for the New Brunswick campus.” Serving in this role “at one of America’s oldest and most prominent land-grant public universities has been a distinct privilege,” he wrote.

As chancellor of Rutgers’ flagship, land-grant campus, Dutta led a public research university with $1.6 billion annual budget. His administration brought focus and accountability in key areas, increased research funding, and worked effectively with legislators, business leaders and alumni to create institutional momentum around academic excellence, student success and affordability. 

Prior to joining Rutgers, Dutta was the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity at Purdue University, with a faculty appointment as a professor of mechanical engineering. Before that he worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was also the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor and interim vice-chancellor for research.

Dutta began his career at University of Michigan as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in 1989 and moved through the ranks to professor in 2000 including the director of the College of Engineering’s Program in Manufacturing and the founding director of its Interdisciplinary Professional Programs.

He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and has served as a scholar-in-residence at the National Academy of Engineering

Dutta holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Purdue, a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Evansville, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Jadavpur University in Calcutta, India.  He is married to Fataneh Taghaboni-Dutta, a clinical professor of Business Administration in the Gies School of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They have three adult daughters, Anita, Nikita and Maya.

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