Nagi G. Naganathan MS‘81, president of Oregon Institute of Technology, was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's spring 2020 Commencement on Saturday, May 22.
The degree was awarded for "his influential leadership and steadfast dedication to our next generation of global leaders as a higher education executive, and for his dedication to the research of smart material systems and structures."
Naganathan spoke about how one never quite knows what lies ahead in their lives, as seen by the events of 2020. “I didn’t know where I was going, and all of the sudden, I applied, because my friend was attending Clarkson. I got a scholarship to come here for a master’s degree,” he said.
“To do the things I’m doing, Clarkson not only got me started in terms of my lifetime service to my education, it allowed me to grow as a person and deal with the surprises that life is full of. Life is full of forks and surprises and resets. You all handled it beautifully in 2020 when it came up and to deal with a pandemic too, and persisting and graduating too. I am very proud to be a part of this 125 year storied history of Clarkson and I am deeply grateful for the start I got here. One thing I want to leave you with; build on the relationships you have made here, they will go a long way,” Naganathan said.
Naganathan began his service as the seventh president of Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) in 2017. Prior to this, he was interim president of the University of Toledo (UT) in 2014-15, the dean of engineering from 2000-2016, and founding chairperson of the Department of Mechanical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering from 1995-2000.
As president of Oregon Tech, Naganathan successfully completed the university’s efforts to secure state and philanthropic funding of $42 million for a new engineering complex, secured permanent funding for the Oregon Renewable Energy Center at Oregon Tech, engaged the university as host of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), and secured additional philanthropic contributions in support of the Stilwell Stadium, a student fiscal literacy program, and the DeArmond Foundation Manufacturing Fellows program.
As interim president at UT, Naganathan established the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute; redesigned the Title IX process; concluded multiple labor-management contracts; reorganized UT’s innovation enterprises; and consummated a 50-year, $2.5 billion affiliation agreement between the medical school and a regional healthcare system.
As dean of the UT College of Engineering, the college achieved historically high student enrollments to become UT’s largest academic college. Naganathan elevated the college’s mandatory co-operative experience program, exceeding 18,000 placements with nearly 2,500 employers in 44 states and 37 foreign countries; and secured $16 million through philanthropy to establish the Roy & Marcia Armes Engineering Leadership Institute, the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex and the Brady Engineering Innovation Center, among other initiatives.
Naganathan's research encompasses mechanisms, smart material systems and structures, robotics, vibrations and control, and microcomputer applications in electromechanical systems. He secured more than $6 million in grants and contracts from external sponsors and authored or co-authored more than 100 publications and conference proceedings.
His awards include Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. His professional service includes the boards of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders, WACE, Inc., Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center R&D, and the Oregon Innovation Council.
Naganathan earned a bachelor of engineering degree with honors in mechanical engineering from NIT Trichy, University of Madras, India, a master of science in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University. He and his wife, Kasturi Naganathan, are the proud parents of Dr. Sonya Naganathan, M.D., who is a Global Emergency Medicine Fellow at Brown University.