Ajay Panicker, Ph.D. was appointed Interim Dean of College of Community Studies and Public Affairs (CCSPA) at Metropolitan State University, Minnesota, starting August 17, 2020. Prior to joining Metropolitan State University, he held the position of Professor of Sociology, and Director of Graduate Program in Social Responsibility, at St Cloud State University, Minnesota.
He earned his Doctor of Philosophy from University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. He holds a Master of Arts degree with honors distinction from Pondicherry University, India; M.Phil. (post-Masters degree) from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India; and Bachelor’s degree in English, honors first class, from University of Kerala, India.
As the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities developed the vision of Equity2030, Dr. Panicker was selected to serve in a six-month position as a Chancellor’s Fellow for Academic Equity Strategy. As part of this initiative, in collaboration with other Chancellor’s Fellows, he developed system-wide strategies for closing opportunity gaps for first generation, low-income students and students of color. While in this role, he served on the Minnesota State Academic Affairs Council, and the system Equity by Design workgroup, and as Co-Chair of the Minnesota State Equity and Inclusion Council. Dr. Panicker was also Co-Chair of the Minnesota State Transfer Pathways Team-Sociology that established the transfer curriculum for the discipline.
Dr. Panicker’s research and publications have focused on the social and political-economic changes brought about by globalization. He has been particularly interested in understanding how civil society organizations address questions of equity and inclusion in the context of the ongoing disenfranchisement of marginalized communities, particularly tribal and indigenous communities.
Dr. Panicker is a past president of Sociologists of Minnesota, and organized the annual conference of this professional organization in 2017. He has worked in higher education institutions in three different nations – India, Canada and the US – where he served as mentor to a large number of graduate and undergraduate students. As a professor, he has taught courses in the following areas: Social Stratification, Complex Organizations, Political Sociology and Social Change, and Race and Ethnicity. Among his other engagements, he also worked as a journalist, covering urban crime and social change, for two prominent media outlets in India – The Indian Express and The Week magazine, and as English faculty member in affiliated colleges in University of Delhi.