Madan Annavarjula, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Business, was recently recognized by the India Association of Rhode Island for his "commitment to preserve, foster, and honor the diverse social, cultural, and educational heritage of India" in his home state. The Rhode Island House of Representatives and Congressman David Cicilline participated in the event during the Association's 2017 Outreach Dinner at the Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Center at Sts. Sahag & Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence.
"I feel pleasantly surprised and very humbled at being recognized along with so many luminaries of the Indian community in Rhode Island," Annavarjula said. "It inspires me to do more."
"It's very important for me to make sure my family and I are connected to our roots."
In 2006, Annavarjula arrived in Rhode Island from Northern Illinois University to run Bryant University's International Business (IB) program. While growing the curriculum into the nationally recognized undergraduate IB program it is today, Annavarjula also made strong connections within the local Indian community.
The friends that Annavarjula and his family made led to the formation of the Rhode Island Hindu Temple Society, and eventually to the acquisition of property and a building in Warwick, R.I., for the first Hindu temple in the state. Despite a large and growing Indian population, Rhode Island was one of only six states in the country without a Hindu temple, and there were none within 50 miles of Providence, the capital city.
"As an economic immigrant, it's very important for me to make sure my family and I are connected to our roots," explains Annavarjula, whose extended family still lives in India. "Indian Americans represent a very vibrant society, and this quest to create a place of worship for those of us who practice Hinduism is an opportunity to connect with one another to celebrate religious and social events."
Upon Annavarjula's appointment in 2015 as Dean of Bryant's College of Business, University President Ronald K. Machtley called Annavarjula "a leader in creating innovative Bryant programs that prepare students with the global perspective that is a prerequisite for success."
This recent recognition makes clear that Annavarjula's dedication and enthusiasm extend beyond Bryant's campus. "I'm proud of the connections I've made in Rhode Island, and the work we've done together," he said. "I cherish this honor."