Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Spring 2013

Future: From a USU Doctorate in Economics to Vice Chancellor of India's Tripura University

Tripura University in India serves 40,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduate students, on its central campus and its affiliated distance campuses.

And until the middle of last year, its vice chancellor—equivalent to president of a U.S. university—was Dr. Arun Saha, who earned his doctorate at Utah State in 1989 when he was age 42. His work at Tripura, especially as vice chancellor from 2007-2012, will continue to benefit the lives of the university’s thousands of graduates for many years to come.

Professor Saha visited Utah State in January on his way to Los Angeles where his son, who is also a Utah State graduate, works as an electrical engineer. Professor Saha said his doctoral work, completed under Professor Terry Glover, grew out of his interest in the economics of education.

In the 1980’s, he recounted, the U.S. government wanted to know if money spent on programs for disadvantaged people was “worth it.” The government approached Westinghouse Data Corp. for help in gathering information, and Professor Saha undertook an econometric study, using Westinghouse data.

“I discovered that $1 spent for a mother’s education gives more dividends than any other money you spend, whether for electricity, food, roads, or anything else,” Professor Saha said. “I used big data with econometric models that confirmed the findings. The mother’s education is the engine for economic development, providing profound dividends and a lasting effect.”

Professor Saha was born in 1948 in northeast India, near Himalaya. Bengali was his mother tongue. He attended Presidency College, one of the best in India, and then got his master’s in economics at Tripura University. After receiving his doctorate, Professor Saha did research for the Grameen Rural Bank, and he has been an administrative leader in the central university system in India for several years.