The College of Professional Studies encourages students to look for grants and funding to support their initiatives in innovation and entrepreneurship. Starting in 2017, The College of Professional Studies launched a few funding opportunities and over the next year will look to expand them.
Professor Sumitra Janorkar Shah Memorial Scholarship was established in 2017 in memory of Professor Sumitra Shah, a retired Associate Professor of the Division of Administration and Economics in the College of Professional Studies, to provide financial support to Women/Social Entrepreneurs interested in a research project involving either (1) small organizations (SMEs) that solve social issues, or (2) a woman entrepreneur in developing world who has made a positive social impact.
Selection and Award Distribution:
Recipients of the scholarship shall be selected by a selection committee which will include the Dean, faculty and staff of CPS. This scholarship fund shall be awarded during the recipient’s senior year of study. Students can earn up to $7,000 if awarded.
Professor Shah grew up in India. She excelled as a student and graduated with a B.A. degree from Ruparel College in Bombay, standing first among more than one hundred thousand students from the state of Maharashtra. She received her M.A. in economics from the University of Bombay, and in 1961, she came to New York City with a full scholarship to pursue Ph.D. degree at Columbia University. She became president’s fellow in 1962-63 and earned her second master’s degree from Columbia in 1964.
Professor Shah began teaching economics as an adjunct staff in 1980 at St. Vincent’s College, now College of Professional Studies (CPS), which offered her a tenure-track position in 1983. As an assistant professor, she taught microeconomics, macroeconomics and related courses. In 1992, she was promoted to become associate professor. While teaching at St. Johns and raising a family, she enrolled at the New School University to complete her doctoral work. Professor Shah successfully fulfilled her doctoral requirements at the New School and earned an ABD status.
Professor Shah loved teaching young minds about the workings of the modern economy. She knew that economics was generally not one of the favorite subjects of most students. Often, her students would tell her how accessible she made a subject they initially approached with dread. Professor Shah was a caring and supportive teacher, and yet demanding enough to expect their best efforts to excel in their outcome. She inspired students to be better readers so that they naturally evolve into better writers and critical thinkers. She took every opportunity to encourage them to pursue graduate or professional studies, promote student engagement and independent thought.
Professor Shah’s research interests were varied with a focus on women’s studies, and the economic emergence and empowerment of women. She had explored various socio-economic issues that women encounter including poverty, wage disparity, gender bias, occupational segregation, and social injustice. Professor Shah has published journal articles, presented several papers at national and international societies, written book reviews, and published a chapter in a book. Also, she contributed to many blogs, including Paul Krugman’s, the New York Review of Books, and many professional associations of which she was an active member.
Actively involved in all facets of University service, Professor Shah held various positions on the Education for Justice Committee of St. John’s University (1987-93). As a Chair of that committee, Fr. Brian O’Connell noted, “It is difficult getting faculty to get beyond the borders of their disciplines and get involved in interdisciplinary programs. I admire Ms. Shah’s interests and energies in this direction. In our discussions, she has shown a keen perceptiveness of complex social and economic issues. She is quite aware of the concerns and interests of our students. The faculties who have served on committees with her have appreciated her contributions … I especially value her dependability in attending meetings and doing promised tasks.”
Additionally, Professor Shah actively participated at the Center for Teaching and Learning through colloquiums, presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and publications involving topics such as, cultural perspectives on learning, gender issues, economic justice in the marketplace, and 9/11. She was invited to participate in the Presidential Summit on Higher Education (January 22, 2002).
At her college and division level, Professor Shah worked on the College Committee on Academic Standing (1985-87), the Divisional Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee (1986-87), the College Committee on Admissions and Academic Standing (1989-91) and the Developmental Advisement Program (1998-99). She organized sessions for various meetings at University Forum (1995-2000). She was also a member of Judicial Board (2002-04) and Vincentian Mission Council (2004-05).
Among the major awards that Professor Shah received were Summer Research Support grants (2002, 2003), the Founder’s Week Award (January 25, 2002) and the Faculty Outstanding Achievement Medal (May 1996). She also received various merit awards (1991, 1994, and 1996).
In nearly three decades of association with the University, a people person that she was, Professor Shah had developed many friends among students, staff and faculty in various departments across campus. She remained ever so grateful to St. John’s University for the opportunity that enriched her life.