University to open new office in India

By Alex Swanson

The University’s Office of Public Engagement intends to open an Illinois office in New Delhi, India in the spring. The office would aim to promote relations between India and the University. 

Sarah Zehr, director of operations in the Office of Public Engagement, will manage the office in India under the direction of Pradeep Khanna, associate chancellor for Corporate and International Relations at the University.

This development follows the recent University office opening in Shanghai, China and will hold a similar purpose.

“The main purpose of an office like this would be to start developing more relationships with companies in India that could hire students … promote internships and full-time opportunities, and it’s also a good opportunity for us to be able to work with the academic institutions in India,” said Zehr.

Zehr believes the office will help support and strengthen the network of University alumni in India.

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Mark Wolters, a visiting assistant professor in Business Administration, also spoke about the importance of the office specifically for University alumni.

“Having an office in India is vital … to help develop business and alumni networks in countries where graduates live and work,” Wolters said in an email. “I could see this helping develop alumni groups not only in New Delhi, but in various cities throughout India.”

Zehr and Khanna recently visited New Delhi to look for office space; however, the Indian government must approve an application for the office before the plans can fully take shape.

Tim Barnes, director of Illinois Strategic International Partnerships, said that strong international relationships allow the University to assemble a strong faculty.

“They certainly impact our ability to attract the best students and to attract the best visiting faculty and scholars here,” Barnes said. “We have an extensive network of partnerships around the world and a very strong reputation.”

According to Barnes, the University has a very high percentage of international students and is ranked higher in international ratings than domestic ratings.

This office could help further develop relationships with organizations in India and supporters hope it will help bolster the University’s international reputation.

Barnes praised the leadership at the University as “the most committed leadership team we’ve had” in regards to cultivating international relationships.

Zehr stated that although recruitment was not a priority in the Chinese office, there may be more of a recruitment effort in the Indian office.

“It will be something that we may want to work more on in India,” Zehr said. “I do think that we hope to increase the number of students from India through this effort.”

Additionally, Wolters said that the opening of this office could send a positive message to both India and the University community.

“The new office should show UIUC’s commitment to international education and the importance that the Indian market is for new students, investments and networking for past, current and future UIUC students,” Wolters said in an email.

Alex can be reached at [email protected].