Prof. Sunaina Singh is among the most prominent leaders in higher education in the South Asian region. She is presently the Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University, a globally acclaimed historical university with the Ministry of External Affairs. Prof. Singh is engaged with the naissance task of rebuilding the renowned ancient Nalanda University. The honour of re-establishing this International institution of ‘National Importance’ has been entrusted to her largely because of her widely acknowledged inventive and sterling leadership. The Oxford Union has recently conferred the Honorary Professorship in 2020, in recognition of her contribution in promoting Indian higher education and culture, the citation also acknowledges her leadership in re-building the historic Nalanda University.
As a distinguished academician and administrator, Prof. Singh has played a key role as a member-designate on several distinguished national and international Boards. She has the distinction of serving as the Vice President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), a premier national body with MEA that fosters and strengthens the cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries. She currently serves on the board of the Advisory Council of the Association of Universities of Asia and the Pacific (AUAP); she is also the Advisor Research and innovation of Asia-Pacific Universities; she has the distinction of serving on the Governing Boards of more than 10 Central Universities apart from other Central Institutions including Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.
Prof. Singh has the distinction of being an institutional builder, as the first Indian woman President of Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a bi-national research institution (headquarters in New Delhi and Calgary with the MHRD and Foreign Affairs Canada) and as the former Vice Chancellor of The English and Foreign Languages University. Prof. Singh has played a dynamic role rin creating innovative research clusters, reinvigorating the academic culture, streamlining the administration, and bringing about transparency and accountability into the system. These crucial interventions have helped in steering forward and assert themselves as important institutions of higher learning in the Asian region. It is due to her sterling leadership that after a span 17 years, the Central University was accredited with an ‘A’ grade. It is also widely acknowledged that the institutions have emerged out of a critical period in their history largely due to her determined and indefatigable leadership. She also held the first convocation in its history of over 50 year’s journey. The then President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, complemented her for her visionary dynamism.
Under the dynamic leadership of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Singh, the last four years have seen the Nalanda University (NU) transforming from an idea to reality; Academic Framework; New Schools and Centres; Short Programmes; Enhanced student Scholarships; State-of-the-Art Infrastructure and an almost complete sustainable NET ZERO Campus with 200 odd structures; Health Centre; Library automation; Policy initiatives such as Statutes; Ordinances; Internal and External Audit System along with measures towards bringing accountability and transparency were created.
Prof. Sunaina Singh also has organized the 4th, 5th and 6th Dharma Dhamma International Conferences at NU. The Dharma-Dhamma traditions conform to the founding vision of Nalanda by bringing together the entire region of Asia on one platform of knowledge while promoting peace and human values.
Prof. Singh as a distinguished academician and administrator, has been engaged in the tectonic task of restructuring and redesigning higher education pedagogical and governance systems. She plays a key role as a member-designate on several distinguished Boards, to name a few: Member, Comprehensive Language Policy of India, GoI; Governing Council, Association of Indian Universities; Visitors’ (President of India) Nominee on the Executive Board of more than 12 Central Universities; Bihar Audit Advisory Board; President, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (a bi-national Research Institution); Academic Advisor, National Cyber Safety and Security Standards; Member, Board of Trustee, India Foundation (a think tank); Board of Directors, Divi’s Laboratories Limited; Advisory Committee, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, GoI; Adviser, Research and Innovation Committee of Universities of Asia and the Pacific; Member, Governing Body, Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
As a Professor of Literature and Culture few academics can match her scholarship, integrity, intellectual calibre and dedication to teaching, research, and governance. As a Visiting Professor at reputed Universities abroad, she has played a crucial role in drawing the attention of the West towards Indian culture and literature, pedagogical systems, epistemological concerns, and educational policies.
Prof. Singh is the recipient of several prestigious awards: Asian Award as a Woman Entrepreneur in Higher Education in Asia 2021 by Asia One; “With a strong persona and unmatched integrity, Prof. Singh is truly an epitome of the empowered woman of the 21st century” – Asia One; She has been conferred with Honorary Professorship by the Oxford Union in 2020, for her contribution in promoting Indian higher education and culture; Vishwa Kavi Rabindranath Tagore Award by Oriental Heritage 2020; Innovative Vice Chancellor of the year, by Asia Today 2020; Most Admired Woman in Education Sector, by Knowledge Review 2019; International Education Award-2018 (NWSI) by British Parliament, House of Lords, London; Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Excellence Award, 2018; Bharat Shiksha Ratan award 2018; Education Leadership Award, by World Education Congress 2016, 2017, 2018; Bharat Gaurav Award 2016; Chanakya Award for Excellence in Good Governance 2014 by Public Relations Council of India; Woman of the Year Award, 2014 by Citizens Council of A.P; International Leadership Certification by Nottingham University, U.K. 2013; Rashtriya Gaurav Award, 2011; and Leadership Certification by India-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), Calgary, for strengthening bilateral ties and collaboration in higher education, 2011. Among several achievements, Prof. Sunaina Singh has the honour of presiding over the Hon’ble President of India’s Address on “Building a Happy Society” to 126 Central Institutions of the country through the e-platform National Knowledge Network in 2017.
She also stands out for unique distinction through her philanthropy to social causes. Inspired by her commitment to philanthropy, a group of citizens have established a foundation in her name in Hyderabad in 2015. The foundation is driven by her vision of building a better society through the education of economically challenged girl child. Acknowledging Prof. Singh’s leadership, the Honorary Consul of The United Republic of Tanzania has instituted a scholarship in her name at Nalanda University, the citation reads “It’s indeed a pleasure and honour to institute a scholarship in your name. Your dedication, commitment, and desire to build and develop Nalanda University is unparalleled and remarkable. It is so impressive and it is going to be a landmark institution of India built under your great leadership”.
Prof. Sunaina Singh has always believed in and has worked towards setting new benchmarks in both the personal and public spheres. What motivates her in her endeavor in life is the persona of her guru and father Prof. Satyanarain Singh, himself a value-driven scholar and a humanist with innate compassion. She touches many hearts and inspires many minds and she is widely known for her leadership and integrity.