New York: Leading Indian-American art historian Vishakha Desai, former president and chief executive of the Asia
Society, will join Columbia University as university president Lee
C. Bollinger's special advisor for global affairs.
"Vishakha Desai has had wonderful success leading the Asia
Society," said Bollinger announcing the appointment of Desai, who
would also be serving as a professor of practice at the
university's School of International and Public Affairs, from Jan
"Her insights and experience will contribute greatly to Columbia
both here on our campus and around the world at our Global
Centres," he said.
Born in India, Desai spent 22 years at the Asia Society, an
educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual
understanding and strengthening partnerships in Asia and the
United States, the last eight years as its president.
She steered the organization to significant growth in its
education, art, business and public policy programmes, including
the establishment of a Centre on US-China Relations and major new
facilities in Houston, Hong Kong, South Korea and India, a
university release said.
"I am excited about working with President Bollinger and others to
develop a coordinated approach to Columbia's global ambitions,"
"I admire the University's distinctive commitment that combines
intellectual, geographic, in-person and virtual connections to
prepare globally competent and globally literate students. I have
been privileged to work on similar projects at Asia Society and I
hope to bring that experience to Columbia," she said.
A Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, a board member at the Brookings
Institution and India's Auroville Foundation, she is the editor of
Asian Art History in the Twenty-First Century (Yale University
In addition to early work in education and public programmes at
the Brooklyn Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art, she was
assistant curator of Indian, Southeast Asian and Islamic
Collections at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Desai received her BA in political science from Bombay University
and her MA and PhD in art history from the University of Michigan.
"Vishakha Desai is one of the world's most distinguished and
innovative historians of Indian art and architecture," said
Nicholas Dirks, vice president and dean of Columbia's faculty of
arts and sciences.