May 1, 2019
For the first time this fall, the Pramod K. and Anju Varshney Endowed Graduate Scholarship will be awarded in Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. The scholarship will provide financial assistance to graduate students pursuing a doctoral degree in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Pramod K. Varshney is a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Director of Syracuse University’s Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering, and an adjunct professor of radiology at Upstate Medical University.
He and his wife, Anju, have been members of the Syracuse University community ever since Pramod joined the college as an assistant professor in the seventies. He has spent his entire professional life as a faculty member at SU, and in their 43 years in Central New York, their devotion to students in the classroom, and in life, has produced a worldwide community of alumni with a strong affinity for their alma mater.
As an educator and researcher, Pramod is renowned for his seminal contributions in the area of information fusion. His body of research also focuses on distributed sensor networks and data fusion, detection and estimation theory, wireless communications, physical layer security, image processing, and radar. Over the years, he has supervised the dissertations of over 60 Ph.D. students. His instruction and mentoring have launched and boosted the careers of many.
Throughout the years, the Varshneys’ support of students has extended far and beyond academic success. They commonly welcome students into their home and help ensure that they feel a sense of belonging, something the Varshneys think is especially important for international students. Pramod credits Anju with fostering these connections. He says, “She creates a family environment. Because of that special connection, we can go to any part of the world, and my former students are there to welcome us, including in industry here in Syracuse.”
Anju adds, “Pramod’s students are like adopted sons and daughters. When our sons were young, they called them aunts and uncles. All these years later, the students are like nieces and nephews to them. We call them our academic family.”
She says that she and Pramod were inspired to establish this scholarship as a way to “give back to the establishment that has supported them all these years.” Its goal is to promote research by supporting a student in the midst of completing a Computer/Information Science & Engineering or Electrical & Computer Engineering doctorate program.
“These fields have defined the societal changes that have taken place, and all of us are beneficiaries,” says Pramod. “These fields will continue to evolve very rapidly. Our scholarship provides fuel to this technological evolution. When I first came to SU in ’76, there were no personal computers. It was all mainframe. Then came laptops, smartphones, autonomous vehicles, sensors everywhere, the internet of things. That is all because of research in these fields.”
The scholarship will further establish the Varshneys’ legacy on the Syracuse University campus, but don’t mistake this as a signal of the end of their contributions to the community. They both have much more to give and no immediate plans to retire. Their current “academic family” includes seven current Ph.D. students, two master’s students, and many other research contributors, with more joining this fall.
“It’s important to us that we can give back while we are here, not after we move on to the next stage in our lives,” says Pramod. “We want to see the impact firsthand. We are here to stay.”
The Varshneys hope that they will be able to increase the scope of their scholarship through the additional support of alumni gifts. If you would like to contribute to the Pramod K. and Anju Varshney Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund, please make a gift online today.