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Jhaj to join ASU as vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement

January 15, 2019

Mark Searle, Arizona State University’s executive vice president and university provost, has announced that Sukhwant Jhaj will join the ASU leadership team as vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement.

Sukhwant Jhaj will join the ASU leadership team as vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement.

In this role, Jhaj will drive ASU to greater levels of student success for all learners across all degree types. He will be tasked with identifying new ways the university can improve learning outcomes, and he will help ASU as it seeks to set a new standard of quality and accessibility that can be shared with institutions of higher education around the country and the world.

“Sukhwant has a proven record of higher education innovations that have enhanced the lives of the students with whom he has worked throughout his career,” Searle said. “We are pleased to have him join us at ASU as we continue to grow as a university, enhance our student outcomes and ultimately achieve the goals and objectives in our charter.”

Over the past 16 years, Jhaj has held various faculty and administrative positions at Portland State University, advancing student success at different levels. Most recently, he has served as the vice president for academic innovation, planning and partnerships.

His administrative and scholarly work centers on closing the equity gap in higher education by reducing cost in radical ways through academic innovation and partnerships, working at scale and helping the neediest of populations envision learning as a possibility.

“As an academic leader responsible for large-scale institutional transformation efforts, my work is focused on improving the institutions as they currently exist while developing the capacity to address disruptive challenges facing the academy,” Jhaj said. “I am committed to serving the needs of all students, particularly low-income students.”

In addition to his role in the office of the provost, Jhaj will have a faculty appointment as a professor of practice in The Design School within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“Designing is an optimistic act,” he said. “While a designer does consider past failures, designing embodies in it hope, for we design for the future. My leadership is focused on using a set of practices: designing with and not for people, reframing challenges as opportunities, making ideas visible and listening to all voices, experimentation and a bias for action.”

At Portland State, Jhaj developed a model called Pathways to Success, which incorporated and enhanced student services such as coaching, academic advising, innovative curriculum, adaptive courseware, summer school and career planning. 

In his role as vice provost for innovation, he worked to establish his university as a national leader through his transformative work called reTHINK PSU. The program is a campus-wide, crowdsourced effort that engaged more than 1,000 faculty and staff members to develop solutions to deliver education that serves more students and improves student outcomes.

His commitment to elevating educational accessibility and persistence also has included collaborating with students in identifying the barriers to their success and working with them as co-creators to develop solutions and redesign university services to improve student experience. 

Jhaj received a master’s degree in architecture from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a Master of Business Administration from Portland State University. He also completed executive education coursework at Harvard Business School and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

In his forthcoming book, “Delivering on the Promise of Democracy: Visual Case Studies in Educational Equity and Transformation,” Jhaj has crafted a new look at how imaginative leadership and a shift in perspective can guide institutions as they work to improve access and success for all students.

“I’m incredibly energized by what ASU has already accomplished and what it’s setting out to do,” he said. “ASU is a hopeful place. It is developing solutions that will transform the entire sector. For someone like myself who has a deep commitment to equity, the ASU charter is very inspiring. I feel a great degree of kinship with how ASU is approaching the future.”

Jhaj will begin consulting with ASU right away. He’ll join the university full time in July.