Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Rekha Datta, Ph.D., served as a panelist at a global virtual conference organized by the Association of Commonwealth Universities in partnership with O.P. Jindal Global University on Aug. 6. Organized on the theme “Reimagining and Transforming The University: Confluence of Ideas During and Beyond the COVID-19 Disruption,” the two-day conference brought together a range of distinguished speakers including vice-chancellors, presidents, and experts from the field of higher education for a series of online sessions.
Datta participated in thematic session IX, Digital Transformation of Higher Education & the Future of Online Teaching & Learning, moderated by Professor Kathleen A. Modrowski, dean of the Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities at O.P. Jindal Global University. Other partners in the conference include the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities, Laspau (a Harvard University affiliated network), the STAR Scholars Network, and the Qatar Foundation.
Conference organizers noted that as higher education institutions around the globe had to react swiftly to minimize the disruptions caused by COVID-19, educational leaders have simultaneously catered to the needs of all stakeholders on their campuses and shown immense resilience to the unprecedented crisis. Even as the pandemic continues, organizers observed, there are more questions than answers about future trajectories of higher education globally.
“We are also trying to look at this challenge as an opportunity for innovation,” Datta said during the conference. “I think the first thing that we have been focusing on is to provide students with a quality education whether it is offered through online, hybrid, or fully in-person instruction.”
In her roles as an administrator and faculty member, Datta has broad experience in global education. She was the founding director of the Global Understanding Project, an integral part of the Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) at Monmouth University, which she also founded. Through the IGU, Datta facilitated partnerships with the United Nations-DPI, the United Nations Academic Impact, and Project BAM, a mentorship program with Asbury Park High School.
Datta served as interim director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning from 2014 to 2015, and interim vice provost for global education from 2015 to 2016. From 2017 to 2018, she was a United States Senior Fulbright Scholar award recipient for research and teaching in India. She also served on the Committee on the Status of Representation and Diversity of the International Studies Association and is an affiliated faculty of the South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently holds the Freed Endowed Chair in Social Sciences.