Electrical and Computer Engineering department renamed after alumni Sanjay Chandra

Pili Saravia, News Reporter

During her seven years in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rachel Carson has worked with alumni Sanjay Chandra and his family to improve the department. 

On Friday, amidst a dance performance, speeches and a marching band, she reflected on the department’s growth and celebrated the renaming of the department to The Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“(Watching the department grow) has been a wonderful journey,” Carson, ECE director of development said. “I’ve worked with the Chandra family for my entire tenure, and I was part of that conversation to engage them more with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. It’s been a real gift to watch them grow into their leadership and their volunteerism and to see this big day.”

Sanjay Chandra, current member of the Cockrell School of Engineering Advisory Board, graduated from the University with a degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1987.

According to a press release from the school, Chandra’s donation will lead to the advancement of student programs, research and technological breakthroughs. Chandra said his family dedicated their gift for the department to his father who recently passed away. The University did not specify the amount of the donation.

“The naming will be a part of his legacy going forward, and I know that he is standing in spirit today,” Chandra said in his speech Friday at the Electrical Engineering and Research Center. “He was the first in our large family to come to the U.S. in his story of inspiration.”

Like the Chandra family, the ECE department has grown —  it now ranks among the top ten of the country for multiple programs, and serves as the biggest department in Cockrell with 2,200 students. 

Sophia Nance, an electrical and computer engineering senior, said she has noticed how the department has grown in inclusivity and support for students compared to her freshman year. She said the name change strengthens student programs and the community. 

“It just feels a little more like a family,” Nance said. “I think that it’s super sweet, and it shows that someone cares.” 

President Jay Hartzell said in his speech that the department’s new name is representative of not only what UT can do for families, but what families can do for UT. 

“You think of this as an opportunity for a family to give back and change the University, but, by doing so, it’s not just changing the University, it’s changing the view,” Hartzell said. “It’s changing the people that are a part of this University and what they will go on to do.”