Dr. Neeta Mohanty: Nurturing Educational Excellence Through Quality Education

Dr. Neeta Mohanty
Dr. Neeta Mohanty

In the present era, women leaders are shaking and moving industries, crafting transformative changes that bring a wave of progress. In the dynamic sphere of education, Dr. Neeta Mohanty shines as a prominent leader, making consistent and continuous progress in her role as the Dean, Professor, and Head, Department of Oral Pathology & Microbiology, Institute of Dental Sciences; Director, Cochrane Affiliate Centre, IDS, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Located in the scenic city of Bhubaneswar, SOA has been a guiding light of educational excellence since 2006.

Initially, it was quite challenging for Dr. Mohanty to switch from academics to administration, on the other hand, the necessity to dedicate a balance between academic pursuits and administrative responsibilities was even more demanding. But she aced it with her determination and empathy. Her continuous devotion to guiding students through their formative years helped her advance into the esteemed position of dean, which she attained with laborious effort and dedication.

This accomplished personality gained her higher education from the prestigious institutions of Dr. R Ahmed Dental College and Hospital in Kolkata, where she got to learn from inspiring and distinguished professionals in the field. Under their guidance, she enhanced her skills, absorbing invaluable qualities refining her clinical expertise and patient interaction skills, and nurtured a solid ethical foundation.

Moreover, working at the prestigious Saveetha Dental College Chennai gave her insights into public and private healthcare systems. She skillfully incorporated these experiences into her administrative style, drawing from each setting’s finest practices.

A Rising Female Leader

Dr. Neeta is committed to ensuring equitable access to high-quality education for all students. Her primary objective is to elevate IDS, SOA to a position among the top 5 in the country, solidifying its national and international standing. This aspiration aligns seamlessly with her dedication to enhancing academic performance, nurturing creativity, and cultivating an esteemed educational environment recognized globally.

Being a visionary personality, her overarching goal is to improve learning outcomes, providing students with a transformative educational experience that prepares them for the challenges of the global landscape.

She is interested in academic success and creating an environment that appreciates originality and creativity. Her goal is to create a learning atmosphere that stimulates critical thinking, encourages innovation, and establishes the institute as a leader in the field of education.

Simultaneously, she aspires to establish herself as an Academic Entrepreneur.

Encounters with Challenges

Challenges are the stairs to success; they introduce individuals to their strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Mohanty’s most significant challenge in the dynamic field of education was addressing the range of abilities among students and advising educators on how best to support each individual’s gifts. Handling the innate heterogeneity in the student’s skill levels is a complex undertaking that requires specialized methods. She intends to use differentiated instruction and technology to implement personalized learning strategies that will address the variety of students’ learning styles to overcome these obstacles.

This method is essential for recognizing and adjusting for the natural variations in students’ skills.

Understanding that overcoming these obstacles calls for more than technology fixes, Dr. Mohanty has advocated for developing a welcoming and inclusive learning environment in the clinical setup. This setting is designed to empower students by giving them the resources and support they need to not only overcome obstacles but also to flourish and realize their most significant potential. Beyond the norm, her goal seeks to create an environment in the classroom that values individuality, promotes variety, and helps every student reach their full potential both academically and personally. Her creative and compassionate approach to navigating the complexity of education demonstrates a dedication to ensuring that every student’s unique journey is greeted with comprehension, support, and the chance to achieve.

A Touch of Technology

Incorporation of technology in education is highly beneficial as it prepares students for the competitive world. Dr. Mohanty believes that technological advancements are crucial for enhancing the quality of education. The key to increasing quality and accessibility is the thoughtful application of technological innovations. Integrating advanced technology into teaching methods aims to create a fresh, adaptable learning environment that profoundly connects with the students. This innovative method not only increases student involvement but also imparts critical digital literacy skills that are essential for their future endeavors.

Dr. Mohanty puts a determined effort into improving accessibility, demonstrated by integrating interactive learning platforms, internet resources, and educational apps specifically designed for the Indian environment. By replenishing the regional gaps, this proactive action provides learning chances to a more extensive range of students. Moreover, specialized programs focused on educating teachers in tech-integrated teaching processes guarantee that these resources are utilized efficiently, amplifying the whole effect of technological advancements on education.

One of the most beneficial aspects of this is the increased accessibility to learning. Due to the deconstruction of geographical obstacles, students receive unlimited access to high-quality educational resources regardless of location. This change is especially significant given India’s vast and varied terrain, where providing high-quality education in rural or underdeveloped areas can be challenging.

A Unique Vision

Dr. Mohanty is an efficient leader and educator, but what makes her glow in the crowd is her strong emotional intelligence, this exceptional quality not only amplifies her leadership prowess but also facilitates profound connections and comprehension of her students, faculty, and staff. Her empathetic approach becomes the hallmark of her leadership in cultivating an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered.

Through this empathic lens, she keenly perceives individual strengths and challenges, fostering an atmosphere conducive to personal and collective growth. Her proficiency in deciphering emotions and effective communication and relationship-building skills are pivotal in shaping a positive and flourishing educational community. Her leadership, characterized by this unique blend of emotional intelligence, not only distinguishes her within the educational sector but also contributes significantly to the vibrancy and success of the academic community she guides.

Rewards for the Good Work

Dr. Mohanty has been adorned and appreciated with accolades for her commitment and impact to education. She was given the lifetime award by Indian Dental Association in the year 2018 for her outstanding dedication, contribution and commitment to field of dentistry, which made a huge difference in supporting the advancement of women in the profession. She was conferred with the title of FELLOW in recognition of her worthy contributions to the advancement of Dentistry worldwide, by the Academy of Dentistry International in 2018. She was awarded the Top 100 Record Holder 2019 award by the India Book of Records for conducting the largest community-based oral cancer screening program. Among these distinctions, one of the most prestigious rewards is the ‘Best Dental Administrator’ Award at the esteemed World Dental Conference in Malaysia in 2019. The following year, she achieved the Global Icon Awards 2020 in the distinguished category of ‘Best Dean & Educationist.’ Further, she was awarded the Global Outreach Dental Innovation Award 2021 by the Global Outreach Medical and Health Association. In 2023, the Times Power Woman Award in Odisha earned her the title of the ‘Most Inspiring Dean & Dental Educationist.’ She also received the Dhanwantri Samman 2023, by Red Swastik Society, Odisha

While these accolades punctuate Dr. Mohanty’s career, she remains constantly consistent in her pursuit of educational excellence, emphasizing that awards are not the primary objectives for her contributions. Instead, they serve as affirmations, validating the unwavering dedication and tireless effort she invests in enhancing education.

Although not the driving force, these honors are vivid reminders that her work is indeed effecting tangible positive change. In her words, they become the cherry on top, embellishing the profound satisfaction derived from shaping the educational sphere, impacting students’ lives, and establishing a thriving academic community. Awards do not merely mark her journey but match with a narrative of passion and a never-dying commitment to the transformative power of education.

Values and Principles for Great Leadership

The foundation of Dr. Neeta’s educational approach is influence and direction, which is strengthened by several essential values and principles that are significant to the field of education. She fosters a collaborative environment by encouraging team members to work with confidence and enthusiasm, which gives them the confidence to put in their best efforts.

She ensures that decisions are made ethically, respecting honesty and transparency at all times since she feels that integrity is a fundamental virtue. Her emphasis on a shared goal also emphasizes the value of a common vision and purpose, encouraging cooperation and teamwork in working towards a larger goal. These tenets—empowerment, integrity, and shared vision—form the foundations that support her leadership style and decision-making, creating a supportive and coherent learning environment.

Mentorship and Women Empowerment

Dr. Neeta says, “Mentorships and women empowerment are essential in shaping the future of education leadership in India.” According to her, mentorship and women’s empowerment are catalysts for establishing gender equality among educators, creating an environment where more women can actively participate and contribute to education and literacy.

The future education leaders are trained and prepared for the future through these mentorship programs. Mentorship provides guidance, support, and opportunities for skill development, helping individuals, especially women, navigate the complexities of leadership roles. Aspiring leaders also gain insights, confidence, and practical knowledge, paving the way for success in educational leadership positions.

In addition, diverse viewpoints and problem-solving methods are introduced into the education sector when women are empowered in leadership roles. It questions established conventions and promotes creativity and inclusivity in educational practices and policies. This leadership variety contributes to developing a more responsive and representative educational system that meets the various requirements of teachers and students.

Dr. Neeta explains, “Women’s empowerment in educational leadership serves as a powerful example and inspiration for future generations. When young girls see women taking on leadership roles in education, it motivates them to aspire to similar positions, fostering a cycle of empowerment and progress.”

She also states that gender equality creates a more inclusive and equitable space for students and educators, promoting a culture of respect, understanding, and collaboration.

Women’s empowerment and mentoring largely shape the future of educational leadership in India. They not only advance gender equality but also create a more progressive, inclusive, and diverse academic environment that is good for society.

Challenges in the Indian Education System

Dr. Mohanty expresses her concern about the lack of critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills, and application-based learning in the Indian education system. Instead, more weight is placed on examination results, ignoring personal growth and learning experiences, and there is no flexible curriculum for equipping students with the skills for the future job market.

One of the prospects is that the Indian education system will be transformed under the National Education Policy 2020. In April 2022, the University Grants Commission of India issued norms allowing international partnerships to offer joint, dual, or twinning programs. Additionally, it has made it possible for foreign colleges to open physical campuses in India by the Draft Regulations, 2023.

Dr. Mohanty emphasizes research and collaboration with foreign universities and highly encourages student and faculty exchange programs.

Dream to Provide Quality Education

Dr. Mohanty is an empathetic, caring, and visionary leader who is highly passionate and committed to transforming the educational landscape. It’s been a continuous journey, not a defining moment for her. She says, “My dedication to this cause has been unwavering since the start, so I cannot pinpoint a specific event that reaffirmed it because it’s been a constant passion driving my efforts.”

Her plans and innovations in the education landscape include Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Virtual Laboratories, and Augmented Reality.

She advises other women to seek mentorship. To look for both men and women mentors who can guide them in their journey. Learn from their experiences, seek advice, and build a support network to remain focused on their goals.

She also mentions balance and self-care: balancing work and personal life is crucial. Take care of emotional well- being, both mentally and physically. It’s okay to take breaks and recharge.

She lastly emphasizes networking and collaboration. To connect with other professionals in the field. Collaboration often leads to innovation. Building a network not only helps professionally but also offers support and inspiration.