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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

‘Indian Entrepreneurs Abroad’ topic of Oct. 27 URI Honors Colloquium

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 19, 2009 – Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande has been described as a visionary, an entrepreneur, an executive and a coach who has changed entire industries.

The founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks Inc., Deshpande will speak Tuesday, Oct. 27 as part of the University of Rhode Island’s Honors Colloquium, Demystifying India. Deshpande’s lecture, “Indian Entrepreneurs Abroad, Business and Social Ventures,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Chafee Social Science Center, 10 Chafee Road, Kingston. Like all colloquium events, the lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is also part of The Anthony J. Risica Endowed Lecture Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at URI.

As a public health precaution, the University asks those with influenza-like symptoms on the day of the event not to attend, but rather watch online at uri.edu/hc.
Deshpande’s company develops and markets intelligent optical switches, multiservice cross-connects, integrated access platforms and advanced software designed to create more agile, scalable and reliable communications networks.

At Sycamore, he also served as treasurer and secretary from February 1998 to June 1999 and as president from February to October 1998.

Before founding Sycamore, Deshpande co-founded and served in numerous executive capacities at Cascade Communications Corp., a provider of wide area network switches. Deshpande was a member of the board of directors of Cascade since its inception and was chairman of the board of directors from 1996 to 1997.

Deshpande serves on the board of directors of Airvana, Inc., a provider of network infrastructure products used by wireless carriers, and as chairman of the board of A123 Systems, a leading supplier of high-power, lithium-ion batteries. In 2007, Mass High Tech, The Journal of New England Technology, honored Deshpande as the first recipient of the Distinguished All Star Alumnus Award. The tribute referred to him as “a staggeringly successful entrepreneur.”

In recent years, Desphande has turned his energies toward social entrepreneurship. Working with the Clinton Global Initiative and other groups, Desphande is promoting social ventures, such as a wide-reaching program that provides free school lunches to needy children in India.

He is widely respected for his contributions to education and the greater community. Numerous business and industry publications in both the United States and his native India have honored him.

"Dr. Deshpande is an innovator and a pioneer who has made a difference in the lives of many all over the world," said Arun Shukla, the Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at URI and a co-coordinator of the Honors Colloquium.

Deshpande serves as a member of the MIT Corporation, and his generous donations have made possible MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, which serves as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship.

He holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and a doctorate in Data Communications from Queens University in Canada.

The Anthony J. Risica Endowed Lecture Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship was established in 2003 with a donation from Tony Risica, a URI engineering alumnus who was involved with two telecommunications start-up companies, Arris Networks and Sonus Networks.

For further details about the colloquium, including an updated schedule and information on parking, go to www.uri.edu/hc or contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2381 or debg@uri.edu.

Major colloquium sponsors are: The Honors Program, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, College of Business Administration, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering, Division of University Advancement, The Anthony J. Risica Lecture Series on Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and The Village Inn - Narragansett.

Additional sponsors include: College of Human Science and Services, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Office of the Vice President for Administration, Office of the Vice Provost for Information Technology Services, University College, URI Diversity Week-Multicultural Center, URI Women’s Studies Program, The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, Kabob N Curry - Providence, and Professor G.S. Verma and Mrs. R. Verma.