Radhika Aravamudhan, PhD, believes the most important role of an administrator at any institution is to serve and build relationships amongst the various constituents. And, since being named the dean of Salus University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) in 2016, that’s what she has tried to do.
“We’re all in this together,” said Dr. Aravamudhan. "I think as administrators, we have a key role in building and strengthening the relationships amongst the various constituents built on transparency and trust.”
Radhika Aravamudhan headshotIt has not been an easy task, and the road has had its own share of bumps for Dr. Aravamudhan. She started at in the Doctor of Audiology program at Salus in 2005 when it was in its infancy, and she was one of the faculty that kept things going after the untimely death of the College’s founding dean, Dr. George Osborne, in 2007.
With an undergraduate and a master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from her home country of India at All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Dr. Aravamudhan earned her PhD at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Her zest for knowledge continues as she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which will position her as a versatile leader in higher education.
Throughout her journey, one of the many challenges she has faced as a woman of color, is can she have it all — both professionally and personally — and effectively balance the two?
Recently, she attended a conference in Portland, Oregon, but in doing so, amongst other things, she missed her son’s first-string concert at school. She tried to watch it online, but the experience proved to be unsatisfactory.
“It got me to thinking, when I miss my son’s birthday or a performance like that, there’s a cloud of guilt in my head,” said Dr. Aravamudhan.
Fortunately, she said, her husband, and two children, ages 14 and 10, and her parents are big pillars of support.
“I do want to have it all,” she admitted. “I aspire to grow in higher education administration, and that desire has been solidified as I pursue my EdD program at UPenn. I think there is a lot of new and innovative thinking needed in higher education and I strive to play an active role in defining the future of higher education. However, I can also see the sacrifices that come with it, some from my family and some from me. But I also know that as a family we are in this together.”
Dr. Aravamudhan appreciates that Salus has several women in leadership roles. She counts Audrey Smith, PhD, CLVT, COMS, former dean of the department of Graduate Studies, which in 2008 became the College of Education and Rehabilitation (CER); Jo Surpin, former chair of Salus University’s Board of Trustees; and former provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Janice Scharre, OD, MA, FAAO, among her mentors at Salus. And, because of the influence of those mentors, Dr. Aravamudhan has taken on various leadership and mentorship roles within OCA, Salus and also in the larger audiology community.
Dr. A teaching“I love being a mentor because I learn so much from the mentees,” she said. “The things I learn I’m able to share and grow from these new experiences.”
Dr. Aravamudhan noted that when she first took the role as the dean of OCA, when someone came to her with a problem, her immediate reaction was to try to solve that problem.
“I quickly realized that most of the people who walk into my office, don’t really need solutions, they want me to listen and understand their issues/concerns,” she said. “So, I started to learn to listen carefully and say, ‘What would you like the outcome of this discussion to be?’ In my mind, I had to tell myself, 'You don’t need to solve every problem. You need to listen and ask the right questions.’”
Her recent selection as the vice president for Academic Affairs in Audiology to the American Speech-Language -Hearing Association (ASHA) board provides another opportunity to learn, and contribute to both the profession of audiology and audiology education. She looks forward to serving in this role and representing audiology.
“I never thought I’d ever be able to rise to this level in my career. I always imagined myself as a researcher in a basement lab,” she said. “But from the time I stepped foot on the Salus (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania) campus, it has been an exciting experience developing my leadership skills and opportunities to serve.”
One of the main reasons Dr. Aravamudhan has stayed with OCA and Salus is the people with whom she gets to work.
“That care and that belonging, you don’t get anywhere else. And, these are not the same people that I started working with,” she said. “This place has helped me grow, learn, lead, and build relationships in so many ways. When you love what you do, the people you work with and the community you serve, you are proud to be a part of it. It is my honor and privilege to serve as the dean of OCA working with this team of exceptional colleagues and to play a part in the educational journey of students at Salus.”