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Selecting Distinguished Alumni among our many distinguished alumni

Dear alumnus/ alumna,

The Committee to select Distinguished Alumnus/ Alumna Awardees for 2015 met yesterday, and did its work, but…. the awardees will only be announced on January 26, 2015 during the Director’s Republic Day address. It is remarkable that out of an alumni population of more than 42,000, only 113 have so far been designated as DAs. For every awardee, there are, of course, a hundred who could just easily have been awarded. To some extent, it is a matter of serendipity. The nominator plays a key role as well. Unless nominated, an alum cannot be awarded. This year, we received a record number of new nominations (nearly 50) and had nearly 100 total nominations to consider, as these are held over for 2 more years after the year of nomination. As always, it was an embarrassment of riches—a good problem to have, but one that does lead to prolonged deliberation among the Committee members (who are drawn from industry and academia, alumni & non-alumni)….

Here are some interesting statistics regarding the 113 awardees recognized so far:

• 56 are from India, and 57 are from overseas (predominantly the U.S.)

• In the “Academic” category, awardees from outside India are predominant, whereas in the “Business/ Management” category, this trend is reversed. In the “Research/ Technology” and “Entrepreneurship” categories, the numbers are very similar. The recently-introduced “Other Walks of Life” category has 6 awardees so far, 5 from India.

• About one-third of the awards have been given in the “Academic” category.

• While Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering have yielded the highest number of DAs (30 & 25, resp.), this is not surprising in view of the fact that these branches also admit a proportionately large number of students. Chemical Engineering does surprise, however, with 14 awardees. And I’m not highlighting this just because I’m a ChE grad! (Yeah, right….)

• Humanities & Social Sciences, and Ocean Engineering have no awardees until now. Alumni of these disciplines awake & nominate!

• The ‘70 batch has 2 more awardees (9) than the nearest competitor, ’77 batch. It is no coincidence that the ’70 batch has a reunion every year!

• UG alumni account for about 70% of the awardees—again, not too surprising considering that in the early years, the graduating class was predominantly undergraduate in composition. We expect this gap to narrow in coming years.

IIT Madras is lucky to have such a large pool of distinguished alumni to draw from, a happy circumstance that is unlikely to change in the near future. The number of nominations can still be increased substantially. The entire process is online now, and as painless as we can make it. The next call for nominations will open in Feb 2015, and stay open till Oct 2015. Do make the Committee’s job even harder by doubling the nominations next year!

….. Nagarajan (BTCH-81; Dean, International & Alumni Relations)