About the Executive Director
Professor Dato’ Dr. Saran Kaur Gill is the first Malaysian Punjabi-Sikh to be appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnerships) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (The National University of Malaysia – UKM). With this specific portfolio, she is responsible for developing respectful and mutually beneficial partnerships between the university, industry and foundations, NGOs and communities and government agencies. These initiatives support and enhance the core missions of the university – education, research and service.
Attached to the university for more than 30 years, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran has a diverse background encompassing scholarly pursuits, human resource development and management of large projects. She obtained her PhD from the University of London on a Commonwealth Academic Scholarship. In 2004, she was appointed as a member of the UNESCO Scientific Committee for the Asia-pacific Region for Higher Education, Research and Knowledge. In 2006, she successfully competed for a Fulbright Award to research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Through her ability to develop strong ties and work collaboratively with knowledge experts, UKM was able to generate endowment funds worth more than RM20 million for the establishment of two chairs which are the UKM-Sime Darby Foundation Chair for Sustainable Development – Towards Zero Waste Technology for the Oil Palm Industry (hosted at the Faculty of Engineering) and the UKM-Sime Darby Foundation Chair on Climate Change (hosted at the Faculty of Science and Technology).
In recognition of her efforts in strengthening Australian-Malaysian education relationships, she received the inaugural award of “Education Personality of the Year” from the Australian High Commission in 2011.
Through sincere stewardship and the drive of her team, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia has gained the confidence and trust of many international organisations and is suitably positioned to lead in the area of industry and community engagement across ASEAN and beyond. UKM is privileged to host the secretariat of two networks – the Asia-Talloires Network of Industry and Community Engaged Universities (ATNEU) and the ASEAN University Network’s Thematic Network on University Social Responsibility and Sustainability (AUN USR&S), which is supported by the Ministry of Higher Education. In addition, UKM works collaboratively with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to lead in the development and implementation of the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme (AYVP). All three entities work in partnership across ASEAN and Asia through the regional alliance called “AsiaEngage”
Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran has shared her knowledge and experience in this challenging field through numerous invitations to deliver keynote and plenary addresses and has come up with a recent publication titled, “Higher Education and Community Engagement: Innovative Practices and Challenges Across ASEAN and Asia.”
For her significant contribution in the field of industry and community engagement to Malaysia, and her continued dedication towards education and research, in 2010, she was awarded the Darjah Setia Negeri Sembilan (DNS) and the Darjah Setia Bakti Negeri Sembilan (DBNS) in 2012 by DYMM Yang Dipertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus.
On the international front, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran gains rapid attention from other community and industry engagement networks and organisations for her vast experience and unique perspective on the field of community and industry engagement. In 2013, she is the first Asian to be invited by Engagement Australia to be part of their prestigious Visiting Scholars and Experts Programme.
Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran continues to dedicate her life to community and industry engagement, with a strong belief of its ultimate power in transforming not only higher education, but communities as well.