Krishna Rajagopal appointed as Dean for Digital Learning

July 26, 2017
Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning, 2016–2022 |

To the members of the MIT Community:

I am pleased to share the news that Krishna Rajagopal, William A.M. Burden Professor, has been appointed Dean for Digital Learning, effective September 1.

As the Office of the Vice President for Open Learning (VPOL) expands with the launch of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative and the Jameel World Education Lab, we wish to expand faculty leadership commensurately.

As dean for digital learning, Krishna will lead efforts to empower MIT faculty to use digital technologies to augment and transform how they teach. He will partner with faculty and departments to support the development and execution of digital strategies. He is charged with building and strengthening connections between the Office of VPOL and departments, facilitating broad-based engagement and bottom-up change. Krishna will catalyze, promote, and disseminate faculty innovations in MIT residential education that new technologies make possible. And, he will continue to support the sharing of a broad range of the best of MIT knowledge and perspectives with learners around the globe.

Within the Office of VPOL, Residential Education, MITx, OCW, and the Digital Learning Lab will report to Krishna. Krishna will report to me and will work with Senior Associate Dean of Digital Learning Isaac Chuang and me on the Office of VPOL strategy and organization. As a member of Academic Council, he will provide advice and perspective to President Reif and the senior administration with regard to all important questions and developments as MIT finds and invents its future.

Krishna is well qualified to serve in this important role. As chair of the MIT Faculty for the past two years, Krishna distinguished himself as a strong advocate for the faculty, known for his listening skills, inclusive style, and ability to help colleagues and departments optimize and achieve their goals during a period when they have developed and launched many new educational pathways for MIT’s students. Among his other accomplishments while chair were the charging of the FPC Subcommittee on Sub-term Subjects and subsequent implementation of many of the committee's recommendations, partnering with Dean for Undergraduate Education Dennis Freeman to create a Working Group on Computational Thinking, and building a new faculty governance website.

Previously, Krishna served as associate head for education in the Department of Physics, where he stewarded the department's undergraduate and graduate educational programs and became known for his dedication to students. In that role, he facilitated and supported new MITx activities that improved the on-campus teaching of freshman physics and junior lab, as well as the first massive open online courses (MOOCs) on intermediate quantum mechanics and advanced quantum field theory.

Krishna has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1997, when he joined after fellowships at Harvard and CalTech. He is a theoretical physicist who asks how quarks—ordinarily confined within protons and neutrons—behave in extraordinary conditions such as the hot quark soup that filled the microseconds-old universe, conditions that provide a test bed for understanding how a complex world emerges from simple underlying laws. His work links nuclear and particle physics, condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and string theory. Krishna is the author of about 100 papers that have been cited more than 16,000 times, and has mentored more than two dozen PhD students and postdocs. Krishna was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2004. He is a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow and won the Everett Moore Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011 and the Buechner Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1999.

Krishna grew up in Toronto and holds a BSc in Theoretical Physics from Queen’s University and a PhD from Princeton. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two sons.

Sanjay Sarma
Vice President for Open Learning