Coming from humble beginnings, Rajiv Kishore always dreamed of earning his Ph.D. in the United States and providing a better future for his family. After 20 years at the University at Buffalo's School of Management, he has begun a new chapter as chair of UNLV's department of management, entrepreneurship, and technology.
The tagline “different, daring, diverse” resonated and gelled with me in a big way. I am different because I don’t worry about what others think of me and I am not quick to jump to conclusions. I am also quite daring and a risk-taker in multiple facets of my life. Finally, being a first-generation immigrant from India, I represent and bring diversity to the university, and it is good to know that the university values diversity to the extent that it is a part of its identity.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in India in a small town called Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh state. My father passed when I was just 7 years old, and my mother raised me and my two younger siblings all on her own. We didn’t have much by way of money, and what we called home consisted of a single room that served as a bedroom, a living room, a study room, and a family room; a small shed outside the room that served as our kitchen; and a water faucet outside in the open. It may seem like a hard life – and it was — but I enjoyed every bit of it. I did everything a kid is supposed to do while growing up.
All mothers are amazing but mine is a bit more special! She taught us that education is what would propel us forward in life.
I was an engineer at heart right from the very beginning. My mother and my grandmother, who lived in a different home, let me do all the experiments I wanted to do, including disassembling a new toy or a new clock just to learn how they work.
It was a fun time and I sometimes wish I could go back and relive those amazing days. I miss many things about India including my extended family, many of whom still live there, but I don’t miss my mother as she moved to the United States 12 years ago and now lives with me and my family.
What are a few of your job duties?
As a professor, I am an equal member of the faculty in the department and will be teaching two courses every year. As the department chair, I consider myself to be the “first among equals” among the department faculty. I envision my duties as primarily in terms of servant leadership. My goal is to serve my department’s faculty and staff by enabling them to perform their various tasks in the most effective and efficient manner, to help the faculty achieve their full scholarly potential, and to inspire and engage everyone to drive the department and school forward. An engaged and inspired faculty and staff are what will ultimately contribute to moving UNLV to Top Tier.
"If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to...”
Relearn how to design airplane engines! My favorite subject in grad school was "Aerothermodynamics of Turbine Machines" but upon graduating, I was placed in the IT department of an aircraft manufacturing company in India and never really got to do aircraft engine turbine design.
Tell us about a time you have been daring.
The most daring thing I have done was when I left my wife and two young sons back in India and came to the United States to pursue my Ph.D. I spent the small savings my wife and I had to pursue my dream of earning a Ph.D. in the U.S. and to give brighter and better opportunities to our sons. At the time I wasn’t sure when I would see my wife and kids again. But my wife was hugely supportive of this daring move and it has allowed us to achieve our dream of a fulfilling life with two grown sons who received the best education and were able to achieve their own potentials and launch their own careers.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an amateur karaoke singer of old Hindi film songs (from Bollywood)! But people are often more surprised to learn that I actually sang for the very first time in my life (not only publicly) at my wife’s surprise 50th birthday party.
What books are on your bedside table?
Some of my favorite books are 1984 by George Orwell, The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlondinow, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Freakonomics by Steven Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter.