Professor Deep Saini’s Story

Deep was born in India and currently lives and works in Australia.

Professor Deep SainiProfessor Deep Saini, is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Australia. He feels a strong connection to the Commonwealth dating back over generations.

Deep feels that, “Long before anyone thought of “One Belt, One Road”, there was a virtual road that linked the Commonwealth of Nations. My journey on this road began long before the Commonwealth was founded or I was even born, and it has marked everything I am today.”

Deep’s fascinating family history has strong links to countries in today’s Commonwealth. His maternal great-grandfather left India to find his fortune in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda) and was mysteriously killed in the late 1880s. Soon afterwards, his wife fell to smallpox. Their only son, orphaned and then terribly abused by his custodians, ran away from home aged ten and somehow found his way to England. He eventually ended up settling in New Zealand in 1912, first working as a farmhand and then ultimately owning a dairy farm.

Deep exclaims, “So, you see, my forefathers had covered much of the Commonwealth even before I was born!”

Perhaps inspired by his adventurous ancestors, Deep travelled to Australia in 1978 to start a PhD after finishing a Master’s degree in India. Armed with ‘outstanding educational experiences’ at the Punjab Agricultural University – the engine of India’s green revolution - then the venerable Waite Agricultural Research Institute at the University of Adelaide, Deep landed his first job in 1982 at the University of Alberta, Canada. Deep says, “What followed was an exceptionally rewarding career in the country that embraced us with just as much openness as we embraced it with passion. Three more universities – Montreal, Waterloo and Toronto – and 34 years later, Australia came calling.”

Now Vice Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Deep is “enjoying a fantastic opportunity to not only lead a rapidly rising university into global prominence but also, and just as importantly, to use the opportunity to pay back the country that had once given me such an exciting start.”

Deep feels that his return to Australia as the first non-European-origin VC in the country is a testimonial to the rapidly rising commitment to diversity in Australia and the Commonwealth. Deep reflects, “Collaborations I am catalysing through my present position now also allow me to contribute to the academic richness of the country of my birth, India.”

“The world is definitely round, and the world of my Commonwealth – India, Kenya, Uganda, New Zealand, Australia, Canada – is both round and small!” remarks Deep.

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