College Strengthens Ties to India

College Strengthens Ties to India

©2016 Gary Neill c/o

The liberal arts have long been a staple of American higher education, but in India they are just taking root. Provost Andrew Shennan, back from a swing through New Delhi and Mumbai this spring, reports great “energy and enthusiasm … for liberal education in India and for creating new kinds of higher education modeled on places like Wellesley.”

Earlier this year, the College formalized a partnership with Ashoka University, the first Ivy League-caliber liberal-arts university in India, founded by a group of entrepreneurs including Harshbeena Sahney Zaveri ’82. While in India, Shennan spoke with Ashoka officials about joint academic ventures, for example, a possible Wintersession program for Wellesley and Ashoka students on nonviolent resistance, comparing Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both the Wellesley Centers for Women and the Albright Institute for Global Affairs will join in research and programmatic collaborations.

“I think that we have a real interest in assisting that emergent liberal-arts education in India and partnering in those institutions and deepening that partnership over time,” Shennan says. “I see Ashoka as part of our strategy. India is obviously such a huge country, such a huge population … . We should be developing lots of different connections and partnerships there.”

There is also growing interest among Indian students in studying at Wellesley. Last year, 94 students from India applied to the College, and 12 of the 18 admitted joined the class of 2019. Because many qualified prospective students do not have the financial means to attend, Wellesley trustee Priya Paul ’88 and classmate Deepika Bulchandani Mehra ’88 provided seed funding for an endowed scholarship fund for deserving students from India. They seek to grow the fund in order to support a full scholarship for an Indian student.

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