Dr Shruti Sunil Nigudkar: Setting Higher Benchmark for Educational Excellence

Dr Shruti Sunil Nigudkar
Dr Shruti Sunil Nigudkar

Women, with their innate ability to understand and connect with the emotional needs of others, bring a human touch to leadership roles in the educational world. Their unique qualities of empathy, resilience, and nurturing instincts contribute not only to the academic success of students but also to the creation of inclusive and supportive educational communities.

This utopian idea of having these impeccable feminine leaders in education has transformed into reality with the pursuit of educators like Dr Shruti Sunil Nigudkar. Dr Shruti has navigated a 27-year journey in Visual Arts marked by a fusion of academic rigor and industry relevance.

Commencing as a young visiting faculty member and graphic designer, her role has evolved to become the program director at the Department of MIT World Peace University, where Dr Shruti has witnessed and contributed to numerous milestones. The Indian educational fraternity is grateful to have Dr Shruti as one of the frontrunners aiming to disrupt the educational realm.

The foundational years of her professional journey were shaped at Elephant Design Pvt. Ltd., a prominent Indian design firm. This experience not only laid the groundwork for her approach to design but also facilitated a seamless transition into academia. Dr Nigudkar’s teaching and leadership in design education have been characterized by a commitment to keeping pace with technological advancements, ensuring that her students are well-equipped for the evolving landscape of the design industry.

Embracing Diverse Roles

Beyond academia, Dr Shruti has ventured into entrepreneurial endeavors, notably founding Ampersand Pune, a strategic branding and communication studio. Through such initiatives, she has successfully bridged the gap between academic theory and practical application, offering students a holistic understanding of the field.

During her tenure, progressing from Assistant to Associate Professor, Dr Shruti has embraced diverse roles in academic governance, particularly in syllabus development and education policy in Applied Arts and Design. Her significant contributions have spanned across Savitribai Phule Pune University and various private institutions, including SMEF’s Brick Group of Institutes, MIT ADT, and Symbiosis Institute of Design, providing her with opportunities to make a substantial impact across the educational sector.

Administratively, Dr Shruti has played a pivotal role in enhancing institute operations, particularly in securing AICTE approval extensions and contributing to the NAAC accreditation process. Her involvement in admissions, budgeting, and leadership of academic teams has been instrumental in advancing her professional development.

At MIT World Peace University, Dr Nigudkar has cultivated a holistic educational environment through initiatives like ‘Kala Mehfil,’ ‘Kala Samvaad,’ and ‘SOFA Talks,’ aimed at fostering intellectual exchange and creativity among students. Organizing events such as ‘Kala Jatra’ and ‘Kala Bazar’ and instituting awards like ‘Kala Arambh’ and ‘Sampoorna,’ she has actively focused on building a sense of community among students.

Enriching the Realms of Art and Visual Design

As a woman leader in Indian education, Dr Shruti has dedicated herself to enriching the realms of art and visual design through a harmonious blend of practice, research, and teaching. Her mission is centered on igniting a passion for creativity and innovation, not only among students but also within the broader community of peers. Driven by the goal of transforming art and design education into dynamic, experiential fields, her vision extends to fostering creativity, critical thinking, and pushing boundaries.

In her leadership role, Dr Nigudkar recognizes the profound opportunity to inspire and empower, particularly young women, showcasing that dedication and passion can lead to significant impact in their respective fields. Her efforts are strategically directed towards establishing a standard of excellence, inclusivity, and innovation in the Indian education sector, transcending individual achievements to influence broader institutional success.

In addressing challenges within art and design education, Dr Shruti has demonstrated a proactive approach, particularly in tackling the shortage of deeply knowledgeable and passionate academicians. Her strategic initiatives involve encouraging promising students towards academia and integrating industry experts into the educational framework. Key programs such as Kala Mehfil, SOVA Talks, Yuva Kala Dhyas, and Kala Samvaad have effectively bridged the gap between academia and industry, enriching the educational experience for students.

Another significant challenge she has navigated is keeping pace with rapid technological advancements, including Artificial Intelligence. Her approach underscores a lifelong commitment to learning and actively engaging with each new technology, from software to gadgets, to ensure a practical, hands-on experience. This strategy not only enhances her understanding but also keeps her aligned with the latest technological trends.

Learning by Doing

Dr Nigudkar’s commitment to enhancing education in India is characterized by a ‘learning by doing’ approach towards technological advancements. Actively immersing herself in new technologies, she sets an example for her students, urging them to adopt a similar approach. This practical engagement goes beyond theoretical knowledge, fostering real- world applications and deepening their skill sets.

Embracing new platforms is a pivotal aspect of Dr Nigudkar’s strategy for improving education quality and accessibility. By integrating these technologies into the educational framework, she aims to make learning more dynamic and adaptable to the digital era. This approach is crucial for preparing students to navigate a constantly evolving world, enabling them to not only be consumers but also competent practitioners and innovators of technology.

Fostering Overall Growth

Dr Shruti Sunil Nigudkar’s leadership is characterized by a distinctive approach that places a strong emphasis on student-centricity, collective growth, and the effectiveness of peer learning. At the core of her philosophy is a dedicated focus on nurturing students, recognizing their potential as emerging professionals, and shaping initiatives to foster their overall growth and readiness as future contributors to the industry.

She champions the principle of ‘Together we grow,’ creating an inclusive environment where students of diverse abilities come together for collective prosperity. This focus on team strengthening ensures that every student, regardless of their initial capabilities, has the opportunity to develop and succeed.

Prioritization of Peer Learning

A notable aspect of her leadership style is the prioritization of peer learning. Dr Shruti understands the immense benefits students derive from learning with and from each other. Her initiatives actively promote collaborative and supportive interactions, enriching academic learning while simultaneously cultivating vital skills such as teamwork and empathy. This approach distinctly sets her leadership style apart, contributing to a unique and impactful presence in the educational landscape.

Disrupting the Educational Field

The award of “Stree Pratishtha Abhyapika Samman,” from the Pratishtha Foundation, Maharashtra, India, received on October 29, 2023, acknowledges Dr Shruti’s efforts and impact in the field of education, particularly as a woman leader.

However, the accolades that hold the most significance for Dr Shruti are the successes of her students. When a student reaches out to share their achievements, whether in India or abroad, it feels like a personal award to Dr Shruti. Over the past 23 years in academics, she has had the privilege of guiding many students who have gone on to accomplish great professional success. These moments of connection and hearing about their triumphs are the truest forms of recognition for her work.

Dr Shruti approaches challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation, instilling a culture of embracing new possibilities without the fear of failure within herself and her team. She firmly believes in dreaming big and following her instincts, shaping a visionary outlook for the future of education. This vision is not singular; it’s a collective journey with her colleagues, fostering a collaborative environment where they collectively work towards common goals. The synergy of personal conviction, teamwork, and bold pursuit of objectives forms the foundation of her leadership approach in the educational realm.

Enriching Educational Offerings

Under Dr Shruti Nigudkar’s leadership, the Indian education landscape is set for exciting plans and innovations. A notable achievement includes the establishment of a Research Department at MIT World Peace University’s Department of Visual Arts, marking a significant stride towards fostering a research-focused environment in the realm of art and design.

Dr Shruti looks forward to introducing unconventional programs that dynamically adapt to the evolving art and design fields. Her approach involves blending modern trends with the rich heritage of Indian knowledge systems, aiming to move beyond the colonial mindset. Leveraging India’s contributions, she aspires to enrich educational offerings and provide a holistic perspective.

As a woman in educational leadership, Dr Shruti offers advice to aspiring women in the field, urging them to firmly believe in themselves and leverage their unique strengths. Recognizing the distinct advantages that being a woman brings to education, particularly in nurturing fields like design and art, she encourages women to explore new avenues boldly from a young age.