Indian-American professor wins award for excellence in teaching

Washington (IANS): An Indian-American professor of chemistry from Tamil Nadu has won the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Sivanadane (Siva) Mandjiny was one of the 17 winners of the annual awards that serve to underscore the importance of teaching. It also carries a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize.

Announcing the award, UNC Pembroke Chancellor Kyle R. Carter praised Mandjiny’s dedication to teaching and mentoring students. “In the nearly two decades Siva has taught at UNC Pembroke, he has developed a reputation for his enthusiasm in the classroom, dedication to mentoring, unfailing presence on campus, and commitment to student success,” he said.

“This award is a fitting acknowledgement of all that he brings to the student experience at UNC Pembroke.”

Mandjiny came to UNC Pembroke from France where he obtained his PhD and was doing post-doctoral research, according to a university announcement.

A native of Tamil Nadu, India, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Madras and a master’s degree in biochemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology.

He earned a second master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the Université de Technologie de Compiègne in France.

Mandjiny studied in three languages, Tamil, English and French, and he taught himself Hindi. Hard work, determination and a strong wife fueled his educational achievements.

“I sat for three weeks in my PhD programme with 85 students, and I could not even say ‘bonjour,'” he said.

“My wife grew up in France; she was a great help. I wanted to quit, but she would not let me, so I made up my mind.”

Mandjiny joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Physics in 1996 as a teaching associate and earned tenure in 2006. He became department chair in 2011 and continues in that role today.

Mandjiny finished his doctorate in just three years as the top student in the programme. As a doctoral candidate, he had three papers published by international journals, and defended his dissertation in French.

Recipient of three Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Mandjiny won the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2006.