Rohit Verma named provost at Vietnam’s Vin University

Rohit Verma, dean of external relations at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, has been named founding provost of Vin University in Hanoi, Vietnam. His three-year appointment is effective July 1.

Rohit Verma, dean of external relations at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, shares the stage with Le Mai Lan, vice chairwoman of Vingroup and managing director of the Vin University project, at an event celebrating the project.

Verma joined the School of Hotel Administration faculty as a professor of operations, technology and information management in 2006. He has gone on to serve in several administrative roles, including executive director of the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures (2015-18) and of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (2009-12). While at Vin University, he will retain his Cornell faculty appointment.

“On behalf of the college community, we thank Rohit for his years of dedicated service and his many contributions to research, teaching and engagement,” said Kevin F. Hallock, dean of the SC Johnson College. “We look forward to learning of the progress and development of Vin University, and wish Rohit the very best in his new role.”

The proposal to establish Vin University, a private, nonprofit university, was approved by the prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in March 2018. A year ago, Cornell announced it would collaborate with Vingroup, Vietnam’s leading private conglomerate, to establish Vin University. Verma has led these efforts on behalf of Cornell since January 2017.

The goal of the collaboration is to create a world-class university that contributes to Vietnam’s key economic sectors and the global knowledge-based economy. The Cornell team includes three staff members, eight faculty leads and more than 60 participating faculty and staff members, advising on everything from infrastructure and campus reviews to curriculum for 11 degree programs and faculty hiring.

Vin University is scheduled to welcome its first cohort of 300 undergraduate students in the fall of 2020. Eventually the university will have a student body of 4,000 undergraduates.

Through 2024, Cornell will continue to provide Vin University with advice on establishing a business college, which will include programs in hospitality and real estate; an engineering college, which will focus on computer science and mechanical engineering; and the university’s general administration.

The University of Pennsylvania is advising on the creation of medical and nursing colleges.

Verma will oversee these efforts, as well as the recruitment of vice provosts, deans and other senior administrators. He will also serve as the dean of Vin University’s college of business. He expects the university to be formally approved this fall, with an admissions campaign to begin soon after.

“I’m grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help establish what we intend to be an internationally renowned university in a fast-growing region of the world,” Verma said. “Our goal is to create a university based on the highest international standards in research, teaching and training for students both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, serving as a magnet for the most talented faculty and students from all over the world.

“I am thankful for guidance provided by Cornell and University of Pennsylvania colleagues, generous support from Vingroup and the ongoing hard work by Vin University project team members. I am confident that together we will enable Vin University to reach its enormous potential.”

As the SC Johnson College’s dean of external relations since 2016, Verma manages corporate relations, international university relations and public engagement initiatives, and supports corporate class projects for the college.

He also leads the Hanga Ahazaza Initiative, a program to train young Rwandans in the hospitality industry. An expert in services operations management, hospitality and services design, and management and operations, Verma was named the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor in Asian Hospitality Management in 2014.

Verma has published more than 75 articles in academic journals and has written numerous reports for industry. He has received several research and teaching awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the Production and Operations Management Society and several industry relevance awards from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research.

“Vietnam is a country with great potential, and Cornell’s commitment is crucial to developing our next generation of talent via the establishment of Vin University,” said Le Mai Lan, vice chairwoman of Vingroup and managing director of the Vin University project. “We have seen so much passion and dedication from Cornell during the past year. Dean Verma’s appointment as provost indicates the strength of Cornell’s support for Vin University. We wish him and his team nothing but success.”

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Rebecca Valli