The evolution of the Indian woman from an enigmatic figure draped in metres of fabric to today’s educated, successful, and accomplished professional has not been without significant struggle. It reflects changing conditions in educational institutions. Women in educational administration are at the pinnacle of their careers, as their roles are changing dramatically worldwide. Mrs. Rashmi Mittal, Pro-Chancellor of Lovely Professional University, has always believed that a better society can be formed only by establishing a strong education system that focuses on the holistic development of students. She opines, “The social expectations are changing, and traditional gender roles are challenged. Educational spaces are the battleground for these developments and have been contributing tremendously to bring the required changes. Furthermore, this is also a key to metamorphosing the state of Indian women’s leadership. The redefined gender equality is already in place, and constructive and firm steps in this direction would bring the desired changes, which would help society grow. Women also need to nurture a more inclusive approach in their families because families are the microcosm to the macrocosm of the social order.”
A Vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”
As the Pro-Chancellor of Lovely Professional University, Mrs. Mittal has the opportunity to provide the Educare she believes in. In fact, as a society, we require that learning. “These days, students are highly competitive, making them prone to many physical and mental issues. During their three to four years stay in the University, it is essential to create a learning ground for them which is not centred only on their academics but must ensure holistic development.” Mrs. Mittal frequently interacts with students and faculty members, addressing all concerns and discussing the challenges and opportunities that “new generation students and teachers” face. “These young minds are fecund, what we need is to sow the seed of Universal progress, and we will bear the fruit in the future”, added Mrs. Mittal.
Mrs. Mittal highlights, “My role necessitates that we set a vision of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” and global citizens in our system because its roots must run deep. My experience as a Teacher, Executive Dean and Pro-Chancellor of LPU gave me an opportunity to interact with new talents. It made me realise that sometimes we aim low as we do not gauge the students’ potential properly. If we follow the path of nourishing the dreams of these budding talents, which also is in cognisance with LPU’s motto “Dream Big”, I believe we can open new doors to the horizon and also transform our university into a world-class University.”
A Focused Facilitator
Mrs. Mittal completed her post-graduation degree in English. In her words, “During my school days, I paid equal attention to education and extra-curricular activities, be it performing on the stage or lending support at the backstage. My participation in sports and other activities boosted my confidence, made me a team player, and honed my leadership skills.”
Mrs. Mittal perceives herself as a facilitator and guide rather than a leader in the noble cause of imparting education. She is always available to LPU students and faculty members. She emphasized, “I lend them my ear when it is required and provide the remedies to their problem. I feel that my role is to spread smiles amongst my LPU family members and the reward for this work is to witness the progress of the students and the staff; when they realise their potential, it gives me a sense of extreme joy.”
Investing in Innovation & Sharpening Students’ Creativity
Mrs. Mittal consistently encourages her students to engage in creative and innovative endeavours. Under her guidance, the university provides practical training, pathway courses, an environment that values innovation, research grants, merit-based scholarships, active mentoring, opportunities to earn while you learn, assistance for aspiring entrepreneurs, etc. The University offers numerous other opportunities in addition to the above referred support, such as scholarships, workshops for developing new skills, activities, and competitions.
Taking Positive Lessons from Adversity
Mrs. Mittal considers the “Present” the biggest teacher of her life. She believes, “More than a person, I have learnt a lot from people around me specifically in adverse situations and challenges. I have experienced the university’s diversity, and my experience shaped my character. The proverb “Straight roads do not make skilful drivers” resonates with my journey, which is also about going through the grind to learn the art of persistence and insistence.”
Mrs. Mittal never fails to learn from every challenge she faces. She says, “In the beginning, I invested too much emotionally in the tasks assigned to me. This sense of over-attachment has its own peril, which I realised a little later. This clouds your judgement and makes a person myopic. Now I try to strike a fine balance between compassion and rationality. I emphasise that we should work in the direction of providing what students deserve, not what they want.”
Keeping Abreast with Trends
The educational system is in the midst of a revolution. Mrs. Mittal stated, “Covid 19 has shaken the traditional education system,reflecting in all sectors, specifically how we envisage educational institutions. Apart from interacting with experts and educationists, formal or informal conversations with students are guiding principles to bring certain changes.” Undoubtedly, technology has altered how people perceive education; students are well-versed in technology and serve as true ambassadors for it. Since social media is causing many changes in students’ mindsets, it is critical to identify these education-specific trends. “Moreover, the university’s vision is to bridge the gap between industry and academia, and we made it a norm to update our curricula as per the need of the industry and society. So, to keep myself updated with the latest trends, I advocate close study of the social need to stay relevant and address the issues pertinent to the common man,” added Mrs. Mittal.
A Round-the-Clock Working Life
Mrs. Mittal said, “Every day of my life is a roller-coaster which consists of meeting new people, guiding and mentoring the LPU family.” She strives to spend equal time with all divisions and departments to gain an extensive understanding of the complexities of these industries. She believes that to remain competitive in all areas, she must devote personal attention to all challenges and opportunities. Mrs. Rashmifurther stated, “Giving conscious heed to mental and physical health through regular exercise and meditation helps me stay calm. Keeping a check on my breath during an unpleasant scenario helps me stay composed.”
Revamping the Whole Education System
Mrs. Mittal emphasises on the importance of reforming the traditional education system, which is less student-centred. She explained, “Experiential learning is the need of the hour; teaching only theory is neither fruitful nor desired. It should be student-centric. The approaches like peer learning, flip classrooms, embedded certification etc., help take learning from the textual set-up to real-life scenarios. One real-life exposure is better than a hundred experiments in a laboratory set-up.”
A Piece of Advice for Fledging Born Leaders
Women are naturally born leaders who stand out. They are the architects of society, weaving the complexities beneath the surface to make it appear organised on the outside. Women take on so many roles that they cannot and should not compare their careers to those of men. Women are ambitious, but they are also compassionate and engaging; leadership is about trust, commitment, emotional bonding, and, most importantly, a shared vision of the greater good for them. Since women shape the evolution of the next generation through their social roles as mothers, wives, sisters, or daughters, women should combine traditional and modern perspectives to represent the best of both. Mrs. Mittal asserts, “Women should not undermine their social roles, which are of equal importance and help build a thriving society; without their support as a social engineer, the world would be emotionally broken and rationally unstable. Women are the reservoir of unlimited talent which is not been fully explored yet. They must come out of their shell and use their education for social welfare.”
Future Plans for Moulding Great Personas & World Class University
Mrs. Mittalemphasized with concern that “The biggest concern of mine, in recent times, is the mental health of my LPU family. The mental health of students has been deteriorating. COVID-19 added to this worry. Now students are more vulnerable to depression and other mental disorders. Creating a harmonious atmosphere, a home away from home, is essential. Students have been struggling with many distractions and are moving towards multifarious addictions, which in turn affect their health and career adversely.” LPU organises numerous awareness campaigns, assigns personal mentors, and offers free consultations at Uni-hospital to reach a student in need before it’s too late. “Besides that, training students to make them industry ready is another aspect in which I am actively involved. It is to help them to ensure their career in their dream sector,” mentioned Mrs. Rashmi.
Mrs. Mittal envisions LPU as one of the top 100 academic institutions in the world, recognised for its contributions to industry and society through excellence in teaching, learning, research, internationalisation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. She concluded by stressing “Along with that, I anticipate that LPU is recognised by its students’ accomplishments and would like students not only to possess degrees but also to own qualities of a good human being. They should bring laurels in all aspects of life and should not stand for themselves only but for society at large. Their out-of-the-box thinking, warm-heartedness and distinguished attitude toward life should define the University in the next decade,”
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