Distinguished College Professor of International Economics, Middlebury College, USA
Sunder Ramaswamy is a distinguished college professor of International Economics at Middlebury College, Vermont. He joined the college in 1990 as a member of the economics department.
From 2017 to 2021, he was the inaugural vice chancellor of Krea University, a new innovative approach to interwoven learning designed specifically to help students prepare for impactful leadership in a dynamic, uncertain, and complex world of the 21st century. He worked in collaboration with leading academics, industrialists, and philanthropists to set up the university in Sri City, near Chennai, India. Launched in 2018 by the vice president of India, Krea University is home to the new and innovative School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences, the IFMR Graduate School of Business, and 5 cutting edge research centers—Leveraging Evidence for Access and Development, Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion, Initiatives for What Works for Women and Girls in the Economy, Inclusion Economics (partnering with Yale), and Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab – South Asia. As the inaugural vice chancellor, Ramaswamy has, since 2017, actively worked on and overseen the launch of the new university in all its facets—admissions, outreach, communications, curriculum design, hiring of faculty, facilities improvements, fundraising and managing of governance structures; in addition to this, he has ensured the integration of the IFMR Graduate School of Business and Research Centers that were inherited as part of the activities of the sponsoring body of Krea, IFMR Society (founded 1970).
From 2015 – 2017, he was the officiating director and visiting distinguished professor at the Madras School of Economics (MSE, Chennai, India), one of India’s premier higher education institutions for economics. At MSE, he also served as the member secretary for the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics, funded by the National Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
From January 1, 2009 through January 31, 2015 he served as the president and Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, A Graduate School of Middlebury College, in Monterey, California, USA. At the subsequently renamed Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey (in 2015), he oversaw an ambitious academic reorganization, a successful completion of the integration of MIIS with Middlebury College (June 30, 2010), handover of the reaccreditation process from WASC to NEASC (including a successful 10 year combined NEASC reaccreditation in 2011-12), accelerated fundraising, scaling up the endowment, budgets in the black for 8 straight years, and increased Institutional visibility. During his tenure, the Institute successfully launched new graduate degree programs in nonproliferation and terrorism studies, international education management, international trade and economic diplomacy, as well as the creation of three new research centers (the Center for the Blue Economy, the Center for Conflict Studies, and the Center for Social Impact Learning), a Cyber Security initiative, and a number of other innovative programs. He also re-energized the alumni outreach programs, resurrected the alumni reunion program, created new awards for outstanding alumni, and promoted active community engagement with the creation of the eMIISsaries group of ambassadors. The Institute also completed an ambitious facilities’ master plan to develop the campus over the next decade.
He currently serves as chairman of the board and a member of the Executive Committee of The Asia Foundation, the largest U.S. based international development non-profit organization focused on Asia (2019 – present; Vice Chair 2014-2019); and member of the Advisory Board, IC3 Institute (2020 to present). Prior board services include vice chair and member of the Executive Committee, American International School of Chennai (2016-2020), member, Madras Craft Foundation Trust (2018-2020), co-chair, Higher Education Research Cluster (Monterey County, California; 2012-2014), vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the International School of Monterey (a K-8 Public Charter International Baccalaureate School in Seaside, California, 2009-2015), the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non Proliferation (Vienna, Austria, 2011-2015), and an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, A Graduate School of Middlebury College (Monterey, California 2009- 2015).
In the past decade he has been recognized with several honors for his educational contributions. In 2020, Education World (the largest trade publication in India) featured him and Krea University as part of their cover story. In 2019, the Indian Economic Development & Research Association conferred him with an “Outstanding Achievement Award for Educational Excellence” and in the same year, Careers 360, in marking its 10th Anniversary Edition featured him as one of the “top Academic Changemakers in India.” In 2014, the Monterey County Weekly, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, recognized him as “one of the 25 local game changing leaders in Monterey, California.” In 2014, he, along with his wife, Varna, was honored by the International School of Monterey (California) on National Philanthropy Day. That same year, an anonymous donor gave a 7-figure gift to endow the “Sunder and Varna Ramaswamy Scholarship Fund” at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In 2011, the Monterey County Business Council (California) awarded him with their 2011 Economic Vitality Award in the “Education” category.
Over the past 31 years he has held visiting positions at the Madras School of Economics (India, including a position as the director of MSE from 2003-2005), Vanderbilt University (USA), Institute of Financial Management and Research (India), Purdue University (USA), and the World Bank (USA). His principal fields of specialization are Development Economics, International Economics, Issues in Applied Microeconomics, and Quantitative Methods. He has been involved with World Bank projects on various aspects of economic reforms in India. In the past he has also been associated with USAID and INTSORMIL projects on agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa. His academic work has been supported by grants from the S.W. Davis Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation. He has also been a consultant to UNCTAD, UNIDO, and United Nations University on specific development economics projects.
His research interests are in the areas of development economics (focus on sustainable development, technological change, and financial sector reforms), international economics (trade liberalization, trade and development issues), and applied microeconomics. He has contributed many chapters in various books and articles either published or forthcoming in journals such as Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Systems, Applied Economics, Comparative Economic Studies, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Economics Letters, Environment, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, Foreign Trade Review, and Outlook on Agriculture.
His co-edited books include Development and Democracy: New Perspectives on an Old Debate, with Jeffrey Cason (University Press of New England, 2003) and Social Capital and Economic Development: Well-Being in Developing Countries, with Jonathan Isham and Thomas Kelly, (Edward Elgar Publishers, 2002). He was also one of the series editors (with Michael Geisler and Neil Waters) of the Middlebury College Bicentennial Series on International Studies published by the University Press of New England (1999-2004). His other co-authored books include The Economics of Agricultural Technology in Semiarid Sub-Saharan Africa, with John H. Sanders and Barry I. Shapiro (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, 1997); and Economics: An Honors Companion, with Kailash Khandke, Jenifer Gamber and David Colander (MaxiPress, Richard D. Irwin Publishers, 1995). He is currently working on a manuscript to mark the three decades of Indian economic reforms.
His teaching interests include Development Economics, International Economics, Economics Literacy and Microeconomic Theory. He has a passion for teaching and has received several awards and recognitions for his teaching at the Madras School of Economics, Purdue University, and Middlebury College, including the prestigious “Marjorie Lamberti Faculty Appreciation Award” at Middlebury in 2003 (and a nomination in 2006). He has also served as advisor/reader to over 85 undergraduate honors theses in Economics, International Politics & Economics, and International Studies; over 40 Masters’ theses in Economics; and has supervised over 20 award-winning Honors’ theses at Middlebury College (1990-2007).
He has presented his research at international conferences in Austria, Canada, China, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. He has also given talks in over 200 invited seminars, and conference/workshop settings in India and USA on subjects ranging from globalization, to economic development, to Indian economic reforms, to economics literacy. Over 60 articles featuring him and/or his views on various economics & higher education topics have appeared in the popular media (International and Indian) such as Access Monterey Peninsula (AMP Media), The Addison Independent, Asia Times Online, Business Standard, Business World, BW Education, The Californian, Careers 360(*), China Central TV, The Deccan Chronicle(*), Deccan Herald, The Diplomatist, The Economic Times(*), Education World* (including a Cover feature), EDU TV(*), The Financial Express(*), Higher Education Plus, The Hindu(*), Hindu Business Line, Hindustan Times, India Abroad, Indian Express(*), India Today(*), India West, Industrial Economist(*), The Monterey Herald (*), The Monterey County Weekly(*), Network 18, The New Indian Express(*), OPEN, Outlook, Qrius, Rediff.com, SIFY.com, Time (Asia & Europe editions), Times Jobs, Vermont Public Radio, and The Week (* indicates multiple entries).
In 2002, he was appointed the Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics at Middlebury College (a position he held till 2015). At Middlebury, he also served as the vice provost of the Middlebury – Monterey Integration Task Force (2007-2008), dean for Faculty Development and Research, (2007 – 2008); acting dean of the Faculty (2006-07), and chair of the economics department for three terms (1996 – 2003). He was also appointed chair of the Academic Committee and a member of the Steering Committee of the Middlebury Bicentennial Commission (1998-2000). He was a founding member of the International and Global Studies program. At Middlebury College, he was also elected to every major college-wide committee by his peers.
Education: He received his doctoral degree in Economics from Purdue University, a master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and bachelor’s degree (Honors) in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, where he secured record marks and topped the University in the 3rd year, and overall secured the 4th position in the bachelor’s degree (Honors) examinations (1981-1984). He also secured the 5th position in the Central Board of Secondary Education (India) National Class 12th examinations (Science group).