Academic innovation leader Shankar K. Prasad to lead Brown’s School of Professional Studies as dean

As the next dean of the School of Professional Studies, Prasad will oversee a portfolio of master’s degree programs for executives and a suite of flexible and innovative non-degree programs for individuals and organizations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Shankar K. Prasad, a Brown Ph.D. alumnus who has led strategic initiatives at the University in a variety of academic and administrative leadership roles for nearly seven years, has been appointed dean of Brown’s School of Professional Studies.

Prasad serves currently as Brown’s deputy provost and vice president for academic innovation, a role in which he works closely with Provost Richard M. Locke to build community and advance academic excellence, operational effectiveness and financial sustainability. He has focused significantly on partnering with academic units to leverage digital education tools to reach new and diverse audiences of learners across the world.

Effective July 1, 2022, Prasad will succeed Leah VanWey, who will become dean of the faculty at Brown after a successful three-year tenure as School of Professional Studies dean. In addition to his position as dean, Prasad will retain his role as vice president for academic innovation.

Locke announced his appointment in a Tuesday, March 22, message to the University community.

“Over the past seven years, Shankar Prasad has played an instrumental role in developing and managing a wide range of priorities at Brown, from new global engagement initiatives and online education efforts to the launch and expansion of academic units including the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, Brown Arts Institute and Policy Lab at Brown,” Locke said. “He’s a strategic and innovative leader who has built deep partnerships both on campus and beyond, and he’s an ideal colleague to guide Brown’s professional education programs.”

The School of Professional Studies prepares accomplished professionals for careers as industry leaders through master’s programs in health care leadership, business administration and technology, and a suite of flexible and innovative non-degree programs for individuals and organizations. The school also supports the majority of Brown’s early-career master’s programs and the students in those programs through coordinated administrative and student support services including admissions, marketing, career advising and student activities. 

As dean, Prasad will provide executive oversight of the school’s academic programs, finance and administrative operations, and student life, and work with academic leaders across the University to develop new areas for growth and success. He will also develop and manage a growing portfolio of credit and non-credit programs that align with the University’s strategic priorities and reach new audiences of professional learners.

Supporting the provost and my colleagues in the office to advance academic excellence, financial sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion over the past seven years has been the highlight of my professional career to date.

Shankar K. Prasad Incoming Dean of the School of Professional Studies
 
Shankar Prasad

Prasad’s experiences at Brown uniquely position him for his new role, Locke said.

Serving as Brown’s first vice president for academic innovation, Prasad developed initiatives to reach learners across the globe through digital education platforms. He helped to launch the successful Pandemic Problem Solving course and a Business Bootcamp run in partnership with Hult International Business School. This semester, he partnered with the School of Public Health to launch an online MPH program, the University’s first exclusively online degree program.

Locke noted that Prasad’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion will inform his leadership approach at SPS. He played a key role in developing Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) in 2016. He also led the Office of the Provost’s DIAP committee, served on Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board and has served in governance and advisory roles for the Leadership Alliance, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Brown, and the Policy Lab at Brown.

Prior to his current role, as associate and then deputy provost for global engagement and strategic initiatives from 2016 to 2020, Prasad wrote the University’s first global strategy for advancing research, teaching and learning around the world, working simultaneously to create an inclusive community for international students, staff and faculty on campus. In recognition of those efforts, the launch of the Global Brown lounge and the expansion of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, Brown was awarded a Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internalization in 2019.  

“Supporting the provost and my colleagues in the office to advance academic excellence, financial sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion over the past seven years has been the highlight of my professional career to date,” Prasad said. “I am thrilled to begin a new chapter at Brown focused on advancing professional education and creating pathways of access to diverse learners here in Providence and around the world.”

Prasad holds a Ph.D. in political science from Brown and bachelor’s degrees in finance, political science and French from Rutgers University. He served as director of undergraduate studies and clinical professor of public policy at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service from 2009 to 2014.

In 2014, he returned to Brown as associate director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, where he was instrumental in redesigning the undergraduate and graduate policy programs, and led the transformation of the master of public affairs program into a one-year, global program, developing exchange programs with Sweden, Brazil and India.

As dean of the School of Professional Studies, Prasad will serve as a member of the president’s cabinet and a member of the provost’s leadership group of senior academic deans, which coordinates academic priorities across the University.