Meet KPU: Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani
For years, Jhangiani has been working on a zero textbook cost project that has helped save students millions of dollars
Columns / November 11, 2020
Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani has been a part of the KPU community since 2007. He’s started off as an instructor in the psychology department. Now, he is the Associate Vice Provost for Open Education at KPU, and since February has been the acting Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, responsible for overseeing KPU’s transition to remote online instruction.
When did you join the KPU community, and why?
I actually joined in 2007. It was about a year before I finished my PhD and I knew I wanted to teach, and so I applied for a job as an instructor in the psychology department. I taught for a few years, and then I taught elsewhere for a few years, and then I came back again in 2014.
What is your favourite story of your time at KPU?
It’s funny because I’ve taught at institutions with very large classes like UBC. I’ve taught at places where there’s sort of distance learning as well, like Thompson Rivers University. But I think for me the big takeaway at KPU was just the nature of the institution.
So first of all, having the small class sizes and … being able to make my classes with students way more interactive than I could if I was teaching a 200 person class at UBC was a big thing. The other thing I think was just in terms of colleagues. The psychology department is a fabulous example. It’s a group of faculty who really care about teaching.
They really get along with each other. Very supportive. Both in terms of the engagement with students but also just the support and the sort of comradery among the faculty. Those were huge takeaways. So very early for me, it was quite a way to start my career. It sort of spoiled me in a way. It way exceeded my expectations. It was just a lot of fun, obviously a lot of work but way more fun than anywhere else.
What’s something you’d like to say to people new to the community?
I think it’s only natural that if you’re an instructor or staff member that your daily work focuses within a particular area, within your department. But I think especially now having moved into an administrative role over the last few years, you know I’ve had a chance to work across different areas, across different departments, meet and interact with folks in very different areas.
I think one of our biggest blessings at KPU is just the nature of the people who work there. Just incredible, not just in terms of being talented and dedicated, but just lovely, lovely people. Incredibly helpful, kind, generous people. I think my big suggestion would be to, as much as possible, reach out to folks outside of your primary department or area, to get to know folks across the institution.
Because I think we are really really blessed to have some incredible people who perhaps recognize why KPU is so special and that’s why we have so many people who’ve been here for a very long time. Once they come in they realize how special it is and then they want to stay. So I think just reaching out outside of your department or area and getting to know some of our incredible community.
What are you working on right now?
A few things. So first of all, as the acting Vice Provost for teaching and learning since February I’ve been responsible for overseeing the transition to remote instruction for teaching and learning. So that’s been a lot of work.
In many ways it’s been like, you know, leading the fire department at a time when everybody’s house was on fire. We were very popular but the good news is that faculty have done an amazing job. They’ve worked hard, they’ve taken advantage of the training we’ve developed and offered, [and] the learning platforms that we suddenly had to build and support. So, I think that’s been very exciting.
The other side of my job is filled in my role as the Associate Vice Provost for open education. In that role we’ve been continuing to grow, and improve affordability. Our zero textbook cost program just passed a whole bunch of milestones this term. Five million dollars in student savings overall, more than one million in just the fall semester alone. Loads of instructors, more than 400 participating, almost 850 courses.
So, you know improving student affordability, especially during the pandemic, especially when students are finding it harder to … find employment. Affordability becomes even more important for an institution that cares as much about access or is as community-minded as KPU. Those are the top two things. Continuing to improve affordability of education at KPU and of course really just supporting faculty to be able to teach and learn effectively in this online environment.
What is something you would like people to know about you?
I think a lot of people know my work of course, but I think it’s useful for people to get to know people outside of work as well. So perhaps more important than anything, I’m a father of two little boys. I’m a former retired dancer, I’m a ukuleleist and tennis player. I think getting to know folks outside of work is handy.