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The University Magazine

New Saunders College dean has strong ties to business and industry

Ashok Rao says he was pleasantly surprised at RIT’s appearance when he first visited the RIT campus – ­including the wide-open spaces, The Sentinel sculpture, and the recent facelift to the Max Lowenthal Building.

Ashok Rao
Ashok Rao, started Feb. 1

But what sealed his decision to accept the position of dean of the E. Philip Saunders College of Business was meeting the university’s administrators and faculty. He was impressed by RIT’s spirit of collaboration.

“One of the nice things during my first visit to RIT was meeting all the deans, and there were a number who were quite friendly and quite open to working with the business school, which I found very exciting,” says Rao, who arrived Feb. 1.


Rao was previously professor of technology operations and information management at Babson College of Business in Wellesley, Mass.

He has worked as an engineer at Leeds & Northrup, research operations manager at Canada Packers Ltd., and director of business systems at Northern Telecom, Canada. He also held posts at Northeastern University and Babson and taught seminars and classes at Harvard University.


“ Throughout his career, Ashok has maintained strong ties to business and industry,” says Provost Stanley McKenzie. “His academic colleagues describe him as a smart, thoughtful leader with a quiet demeanor who is nonetheless very effective. As nice and personable as he is, they said Ashok can be quite tough, although never ruthless. This strikes me as a terrific set of personality traits for the dean of the Saunders College of Business.”


Rao was selected from more than 100 applicants in a national search that started in October 2005, after Thomas Hopkins left the post to resume teaching. Wayne Morse served as interim dean.

One of Rao’s noteworthy concepts has been his study on cross-border integration, a form of entrepreneurship that draws upon skills that are hired in different parts of the world.

Rao received degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharaghpur, India, and post graduate degrees from the University of Iowa.

Marcia Morphy