In conversation with Dr. Pragna Rao: Teachers’ Day Special
“A good teacher is a Doctor who heals ignorance.”
Manipal, our world-class campus town is fuelled by two primary forces- the unquenchable thirst for knowledge amongst its students and the efforts of its faculty to impart the infinite. This teachers’ day, as MTTN was checking every nook and corner for the perfect story, they happened to stumble upon someone who’s been on either side of the academic journey at Manipal- Dr. Pragna Rao, a proud alumnus and currently, the Dean of KMC, Manipal.
Here is a small interview with Dr Rao in the spirit of ‘National Teachers’ Day’.
As the new dean, what are some of the most cherished moments in your debutant year?
Dr. Rao: What I cherish most is the number of students I get to interact with and reach out to from this position. Every day I have students coming to me asking for a few minutes of my time. It is my privilege to assist them. Previously my role was only of a professor. Now I have an approach of an administrator and a counsellor.
Do you miss teaching? If so, how do you make up for it?
Dr. Rao: Oh no! I continue to teach. I haven’t reduced the number of lectures allotted to me either.
What is the most striking feature about the students of Manipal from a Professor’s perspective?
Dr. Rao: From a professor’s perspective I think it is their spontaneity, initiatives and creativity. Most of them are very focused on where they want to reach in life and they balance their long-term goals efficiently inspite of having a fun and an active campus life. For their multitasking skills, I would like to define them as clever and intelligent. I think the liberal administration of KMC Manipal has given ample scope for the students to interact with their fellow counterparts in various parts of the country via festivals and conferences. This exposure and the ample experience gained through it makes a Manipal student stand out.
Could you comment on KMC’s growth since your days as a student?
Dr. Rao: We have grown enormously both in terms of physical size and global outreach. But more importantly, we have sustained all the core values of the University and the institution through all our endeavours. I think this adds more substance to our cause than any mere expansion.
What is your fondest memory as a student?
Dr. Rao: The amazing continental breakfast and coffee at Shantala. Unfortunately, it isn’t available anymore.
How has your perception of the world changed being on the other side of the table?
Dr. Rao: Now, I have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking decisions for the college. I try to do my best by studying the global trends and bring about changes accordingly. We are the only college in India recognized by the New York state Education Department that allows our students to do a straight 12-week elective. This stands as a testimony to our efforts.
Dr. Rao is of the opinion that as teachers of the millennium, the expectations from the students are completely different. There is no more scope for a stringent aristocracy. Professors are expected to be more accessible and innovative with their ideas and even share their ideas in a friendly manner.
With these words of wisdom, we would like to wish all our readers a Happy Teachers’ Day’.
Interview By: Radha Jha.
Written By: Vinay Reddy.