Chancellor Paydar Lays Out Plans for IUPUI During Jagversation

Chancellor of IUPUI, Dr. Nasser Paydar, laid out some plans during his first Jagversation Wednesday in the Multicultural Student Lounge. Dr. Paydar discussed his plans to increase diversity of our Indianapolis campus and his want to stay connected to students. The Jagversation series is a chance to meet faculty and to see where IUPUI is heading.

 

Dr. Paydar was born in Iran, he came to the U.S. 40 years ago, and first came to IUPUI 30 years ago. In 1985 Paydar became an assistant professor for Mechanical Engineering. When he first started teaching at IUPUI over 90 percent of students were adults continuing education, which is in stark contrast to today where 98 percent of incoming students are the traditional college ages. He was appointed as IUPUI’s fifth chancellor June 19, 2015 and took over August 16.

During his 30 years with IU Dr. Paydar has bounced around many campuses around Indiana. In 2008, when he was the interim chancellor for Indiana University East, he became the first chancellor in the U.S. to tweet. Paydar continues to connect with students and even made a video to showcase his love of IUPUI, soccer, and the band Queen. You can see the video here. He said that he wants to get one million views so that YouTube will send him some money.

To begin his Jagversation he had everyone in attendance introduce themselves with their name, birthplace, and what they are studying. Dr. Paydar wants students to know him on a personal level, he wants everyone to see him as a human being, a man with a great sense of humor, two sons and a wife who works at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  

After introductions the chancellor got down to business. He introduced his three areas of importance: commitment to excellence of students, faculty, and education, commitment to community, and commitment to unify the campus.

Commitment to excellence will be achieved by getting more students to graduate, by increasing financial aid to get students from every background, and by increasing funds to $3 million for faculty to run projects to improve the campus, the city, and the world.

Chancellor Dr. Paydar is focusing mainly on increasing diversity on campus and the only taskforce he has formed during his 57 days as Chancellor is to increase the number of African American students.

“10 percent of our students are black, 18 percent of Indianapolis is black, our goal is to get 15 percent of student population to be African American in five years,” Dr. Paydar said.

According to the Chancellor one quarter of our students is underrepresented minorities. He said that he wouldn’t disclose the statistics for other colleges because he didn’t want to embarrass them. He did report that the growth in Latino presence on campus is greater than it has ever been.

 

Commitment to community is a big deal for IUPUI which is located in the heart of the second largest city in the Midwest. He feels that IUPUI is responsible to raise the quality of life in Indianapolis. IUPUI has over 3,000 faculty members. To put that into perspective Butler University has 4,000 students. IUPUI has a budget of $1.3 billion and $200 million of that comes from the State, so he wants to continuing to have programs to help Indianapolis.

Commitment to unify the campus is something many of the students of IUPUI complain about. Many students don’t get a strong sense of community at IUPUI or that “college feeling” when on campus. Chancellor Paydar stated that he wants to take IUPUI athletics to the next level, but first more students have to go the games.

He told a story of going to an IUPUI men’s game and noticing that fans only seat on the team side of the Coliseum, so he went to the other side so he would watch the fans jump up and down as well as watch the game. While he was the only person sitting on the other side of the Coliseum a couple came up and told him that he was in their seats, he laughed thinking the couple were joking. They were not joking so he decided to move. His point was that the Coliseum seats nearly 7,000 people and not nearly enough students attend the games.

Beyond improving sports Dr. Paydar hopes to add more places for students to hang out, as well as adding more student housing.

“We have a new residence hall which will be done in August,” Dr. Paydar said. “700 more students will be able to stay on campus, when that gets finished I believe we will be ready to build another [student housing building].”

After laying out his three areas of importance the Chancellor opened the floor up to questions which gave him a chance to show off his humor and wit. After stating that there is more to life than books the Chancellor jokingly said, “Don’t write that down, books are your life,” he chuckled and then repeated that there is more to life than books.

The hardest hitting question he was asked was a question about safety.

“How can we make this a campus where everyone feels safe,” a Jagversation attendee asked.

“We are lucky, and we thank God that we have be relatively safe,” Dr. Paydar said, while knocking on wood to ward off any potential school shootings. “First I would like to say that we have an escort system in place, we have security and police out everywhere that you might not even notice and we are constantly checking lights and making sure they keep campus well lit.”

Nicholas Curry, a senior at IUPUI and part of the city wide chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, was in attendance and asked Chancellor Paydar how IUPUI would continue to add diversity to the student body and how he planned to recruit more African American students. Curry had went to the breakfast with Chancellor Paydar and wanted to come out to hear about his new initiatives.

“Chancellor Paydar is doing a great job,” Curry said. “Bringing in diverse students is important, I just hope it takes part and can be seen on campus.”

Emma Hyndman, a sophomore and the president of Jaguar Spirit Organization, attended as a chance to see what changes might happen on campus and to get the name out about JSO. Hyndman is excited to see what Chancellor Paydar is going to do and to see where IUPUI is going.

“He is really relatable and has respect for the students and you can tell he really cares,” Hyndman said.



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