by Bryan Lindenberger

University of West Georgia Faculty members change the lives of students every day with their field expertise, guidance and support.

Now two long-time faculty members have moved a step beyond by providing additional financial support for undergraduate researchers majoring in economics and chemistry at the University of West Georgia.

Dr. Swarna Dutt and Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt seated together

Generous faculty members, husband and wife Dr. Swarna Dutt – professor of economics in the Richards College of Business – and Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt – chair and professor of chemistry at the College of Science and Mathematics – have jointly established the Dutt Endowed Awards.

This endowment institutes two annual awards of $500 each to support two undergraduate students from the departments of economics and chemistry, respectively. The awards will be provided to student scholars who are primary presenters of their research at an off-campus conference.

“The $500 annual gift will be received by one student from each department – chemistry and economics – who participates in an off-campus research paper presentation,” said Dr. Dutt of economics. “Such a presentation is of great benefit to a student’s resume and in his or her future career.”

Born in India, Dr. Swarna Dutt came to the United States as a graduate student. He completed his master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from Wayne State University in Detroit, joining the faculty at the University of West Georgia in 1994. He has served as a faculty member solely in the department of Economics in the Richards College of Business throughout his 24 years of service at the University.

“We felt this endowment is where we could make the most difference,” said Dutt. “Off-campus presentations provide opportunity to learn valuable presentation skills, gain confidence, and for professional networking. We know these experiences are of great value when entering the workforce.”

Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt agrees. She has served the UWG department of chemistry since 1996 after completing her doctoral work in chemical engineering at Wayne State University. She has mentored hundreds of students pursuing careers in chemistry, engineering, and science education.

A proponent of experiential learning, Basu-Dutt values research that helps students apply abstract theories to real world problem-solving.

“Students giving oral presentations at a conference learn to disseminate research findings concisely and coherently to the professional community,” Basu-Dutt said. “The opportunity to be critiqued by experts with valuable feedback often takes a research project to a whole new level.”

While both Swarna Dutt and Sharmistha Basu-Dutt believe strongly in the positive impact the endowment will have for students, creating the Dutt Endowed Awards required a heavy financial commitment.

Swarna Dutt says that two very important factors led to the decision.

“First, this is a wonderful place to work,” Dutt said, knowing that he wanted to find some substantial way to show his appreciation to his home in the economics department. “It is peaceful here with a live and let live environment. It is the best place to work.”

Secondly, Dutt has had the privilege of serving as UWG’s Fuller E. Callaway Endowed Chair since 2013. Created by Callaway Foundation, Inc., the trust provides funds to educational institutions in Georgia with the mission to retain superior faculty members.

“The endowment is a major commitment for us,” Dutt said. “The Callaway Foundation, in naming me the endowed chair for UWG, is a large part of what made it possible.”

Posted on November 16, 2018