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Vishakha N. Desai

Senior Advisor for Global Affairs; Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies
International & Public Affairs
202 Low Library
  • Co-chair, University Forum on Global Columbia
  • Member, Committee on Global Thought
  • Member, Faculty Steering Committee, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai

Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Special Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and Professor of Professional Practice at the School of International and Public Affairs.  She also serves as Senior Advisor for Global Programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.  From 2004 through 2012, Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization.

Prior to becoming President, Dr. Desai served in several senior executive positions at the Asia Society for more than a decade. Under her leadership, the Society became a much more global organization with new offices in India, and Korea, and with two new architecturally acclaimed buildings in Hong Kong and Houston. She also developed groundbreaking new initiatives such as the U.S-China Center, a trans-national young leaders program, and a national program of internationally themed public high schools.

A recipient of numerous awards and five honorary degrees, Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in Political Science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan. 

Dr. Desai’s publications include: Asian Art History in the 21st century (editor), Gods Guardians and Lovers: Temple Sculpture of North India, and Life At Court: Art for India’s Rulers.  Her current scholarly interests include intersection of culture and foreign policy in India and China.

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