Chancellor-elect Deba Dutta talks about his new role leading U-M Flint

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ANN ARBOR, Michigan (WJRT) - (06/20/2019) - Chancellor-elect Deba Dutta takes over the reigns at UM-Flint on the first of August.

He succeeds Susan E. Borrego, who will step down when her term is complete at the end of July.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Dutta, who began his career as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at U-M in 1989.

He went on to become a full professor at U-M in 2000.

We had a chance to talk with the Chancellor-elect following the
Board of Regents' vote on his appointment to the five-year post in Ann Arbor.

"I'm very excited, because I'm coming home," said Deba Dutta.

The Chancellor-elect and his wife spent twenty years working in Michigan, before making a career move out-of-state.

Dutta is now planning to hit the ground running in Flint in six weeks.

"I have a lot of learning to do, listening to do," he said when asked about what he plans to focus on, "but boosting enrollment for sure, is an important thing."

Dutta is coming to the U-M Flint campus with an impressive resume.

He is a distinguished professor of engineering, and the former chancellor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

At Rutgers, he led a public research university with a $1.6 billion annual budget.

From 2014-17, Dutta served as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity at Purdue University.

"The experience that our students get by being in a diverse environment," he said, "is what is needed to be successful after they graduate."

According to a press release from U-M, state spending per student at UM-Flint is the third lowest of Michigan's 15 public universities.

We asked Dutta about the challenges facing higher education:

"Affordability," he said,"which leads to lack of access."

"We have to grow our resource base because we need to serve the students and the faculty and the staff," he added.

His wife, Fataneh Dutta has strong Flint connection.

She spent 19 years at the U-M Flint School of Management.

Both are excited to be back in Michigan.