From Kolkata to Canton: Economics Professor Propels Kent State to the World Stage
Deepraj Mukherjee, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at Kent State University at Stark, grew up in a middle-income family in Kolkata, India, but when he walked the city’s streets, poverty was unavoidable. Hunger knew no divide, afflicting families and neighborhoods in this capital of West Bengal where more than 15 million hail from every income level.
Why not me?
A young Dr. Mukherjee asked that question more than once. He wrestled with it.
“Even from childhood, I always had the question in my mind: Why poverty? What can we do to eradicate poverty?” he says.
As a teenager, Dr. Mukherjee studied works by the Indian expert on welfare, Amartya Sen, Ph.D., who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
“I read it somehow and thought about how economic contributions can help eradicate poverty,” he says. “I read it and thought, how can I do this? How can I help?”
In Dr. Mukherjee’s office on the third floor of Main Hall at Kent State Stark, he points to a photo capturing the moment he received his doctorate from the University of Memphis in 2010. It was the moment his dream became reality.
“I came to the U.S. to study economics,” he says. “This country has the best universities, the best research facilities in the world.”
Today, Dr. Mukherjee challenges his students to find the answer that will better their homes, neighborhoods and communities. He encourages them to think about how economics influences everyday life.
Since Dr. Mukherjee joined the faculty at Kent State Stark in 2012, he has been impressed with the educational quality and research opportunities available to students.
“The fact that undergraduate students can be exposed to high-quality research gives them the perfect way to obtain the highest quality education,” he says. “Because, at the end of the day, it really is that experience you are getting in the field.”
Dr. Mukherjee takes that personally. In fact, it’s his number one goal: to make an impact on his students. That is why he treasures a note he received last year from graduating senior Patrick Martell.
“The many opportunities and projects completed with your guidance truly made my college experience the best it could have been,” Mr. Martell writes. “It was a lot of fun learning about economics and its relationship to everyday occurrences in both business and daily life.”
Dr. Mukherjee is happy to be a part of the Kent State system and help propel the Kent State Stark to the world stage.
“Our Regional Campus can only grow if we are giving back to the community – that’s the economic impact,” he says.
Having a global brand image allows Kent State Stark to serve much better locally as well, says Dr. Mukherjee, who was recently elected editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Business and Economic Development. Published in London, the scholarly and refereed journal’s membership is global – from Italy to Russia and from Indonesia to Australia.
“When we receive international exposure, that visibility also belongs to the campus, to the university because this is Kent State University and that gets promulgated all around,” he adds.
And, it is full circle. Dr. Mukherjee never forgets his childhood in Kolkata, prodding him to give back, to make a difference.
“Deepraj is innovative and a good campus citizen,” says Denise Seachrist, Ph.D., dean of Kent State Stark. “He meets the needs of his students and always seeks solutions fueled by the power of Kent State. He wants to go out and change the world, and isn’t that what it’s all about?”