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Paydar confirmed to federal position

IUPUI Chancellor Emeritus Nasser H. Paydar was confirmed as assistant secretary for postsecondary education by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 5, in Washington, D.C. In this role, Paydar will work under U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to make higher education in the United States more inclusive, equitable and affordable.

“It is with great excitement that I congratulate Dr. Nasser Paydar on his confirmation as assistant secretary for postsecondary education,” Cardona said. “Dr. Paydar brings to the U.S. Department of Education more than 3½ decades of experience as a university leader and educator, during which time he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to creating accessible pathways to college and careers for students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”

An IU faculty member for more than 36 years, Paydar held various administrative and executive leadership positions at the university. He joined IUPUI in 1985 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. From 1989 to 2003, he held several positions in the school, including chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, associate dean for graduate programs, associate dean for academic programs and executive associate dean.

From 2004 to 2007, Paydar served as vice chancellor and dean of Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. He was appointed chancellor of Indiana University East in 2007 and served in that role until he returned to IUPUI in 2012, when he was named the campus’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. He became IUPUI’s fifth chancellor in 2015.

“I’m thrilled to learn the U.S. Senate has confirmed former IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar as the Education Department’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education,” Indiana University President Pamela Whitten said in a social media post following Paydar’s confirmation. “Nasser’s long experience at Indiana University, and his passion for making higher education more accessible and welcoming to all students, will serve our country well. Just as he impacted our university, I look forward to seeing him make a big impact in this role, as well.”

Paydar, a collaborative and transparent administrator, steadily advanced IUPUI’s three strategic priorities focused on student success, research and community engagement during his tenure as IUPUI chancellor and executive vice president of Indiana University. From 2015 to 2022, more than 47,700 degrees were awarded to graduates and 44 new academic degree programs were established. Under his leadership, $218.5 million worth of capital improvement projects were completed, including a multimillion-dollar renovation of the IU Natatorium and the construction of Innovation Hall and two IUPUI gateways, visually marking the entry points to campus.

“I am honored to accept this appointment to the Department of Education as assistant secretary for postsecondary education, and I look forward to working with the incredibly talented team at the DoE to increase access to higher education in lasting ways that promise to strengthen our educational system as a whole,” Paydar said. “In my decades of work as a faculty member and university administrator, I have seen first-hand how equity, inclusion and access change lives for the better, and this is as true for Hoosiers as it is for Americans across the country. Affordable and accessible higher education is vital to the long-term competitiveness and prosperity of our nation.”

A champion for diversity, equity and inclusion, Paydar oversaw the creation of the LGBTQ+ Center, convened the Action Committee to recommend steps to eliminate systemic racism on campus, and expanded implicit bias training for faculty and staff. Working with IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kathy Johnson and faculty governance leaders, he helped to develop a diversity, equity and inclusion track for faculty promotion and tenure, among the first such DEI promotion and tenure pathways in the nation. Graduation rates among Black students have increased four-fold since 2015, and students of color now account for 40% of IUPUI’s beginning students.

To reflect this steadfast commitment, the Nasser H. Paydar Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Scholarship was established upon his retirement. The scholarship will exist in perpetuity, with special consideration given to students from underrepresented populations.

As an IUPUI faculty member, Paydar has served as principal and co-principal investigator on research grants from federal and state agencies and private companies, including Cummins Electronics, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center. His research in solid mechanics, with applications in biomechanics and electronic packaging, has been published widely in scientific journals. Paydar earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University.

Becky Wood is director of communications in the Office of the Chancellor at IUPUI.