On October 26, Asad Khan, continuing his theme of “Immigrants in Leadership,” introduced Shila Garg, PhD, emeritus professor of Physics at the College of Wooster, who told us her life’s story of growing up in South India where she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree and then went to England where her father had ties, completing her doctorate in studying the composition of Plastic Crystals at the University.  She settled in Wooster, Ohio with her husband and was a stay at home mom for 10 years raising her two children.
Opportunities to audit courses at Wooster College perked her interest and after auditing as many as 15 courses, she became enthralled with the idea of a broad liberal arts education.  She took a job as an assistant in the physics laboratory and in 1987 was hired on a part-time basis to teach physics to undergraduates.  Eventually she was hired full-time.   A good networker, she formed a relationship with the Liquid Crystals Institute at Kent State University, where she was able to renew her studies and also provide summer research opportunities for her students at Wooster College. Her program became widely recognized and she was asked to give presentations to intercollegiate faculty and administrators who wanted similar opportunities for their own students.  Her administrative talents and initiatives led to her becoming Chair of the Department and then Dean of the Faculty, a position that spread her so broadly she convinced the president of Wooster College to divide up the job and name her Provost.   As Dean and then Provost, she worked to get all Wooster departments to use the same software to end silo type planning.  She became active in globalizing education at Wooster College and was active in intercollegiate academic associations.  She also set up short term programs for students in the sciences in Europe and Asia.  Science students, she explained, are too busy to experience many of the liberal arts opportunities like this that students in the Humanities enjoy.  She also led faculty short term seminars in India to benefit the Wooster College faculty.  Professor Garg said that the Wooster Rotary Club became involved in efforts to restore one of the villages that was wiped out when the 2004 tsunami destroyed so much of the coastline along the Bay of Bengal.  The word for village is Nagar and the village has been renamed Wooster Nagar.
Professor Garg retired from administrative duties and returned to teaching before finally retiring. She continues to serve in an emeritus position that enables her to remain active in the study of Physics.  As a resident of Wooster, she also volunteers with AARP to help the elderly fill out their tax returns.  She mentioned that her older brother, who became an engineer, emigrated to the USA and currently resides in Brunswick, not far from Wooster.  In his introduction, Asad said that Professor Garg had been his advisor when he was a student majoring in physics at Wooster College and credited her for his success in academia prior to going into business at Kent Displays.  Professor Garg said that teaching students and experiencing their enthusiasm as they mastered their studies was the most rewarding part of her career, but she added that she enjoys organizing and liked being an administrator also.