Chandra Subramaniam spent his first week as the new dean of California State University, Northridge’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics in meeting after meeting, learning about the job and the people he’ll be working with.
What Subramaniam learned, he said, confirmed that he made the right decision to leave the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was interim dean of the business college, for CSUN.
“This is a place where the faculty, and the administrators truly care about the students and ensure that they succeed, not just in the classroom, but in their professional careers,” Subramaniam said. “There is a connection that alumni have with this university and the community it serves. They want to make a positive impact and are willing to give of themselves to make that happen.
“I see my job as building on that,” he said. “Bringing all the pieces together, from the various programs in the college to tapping into our amazing alumni and members of the community, and moving us forward to a place where not only are we graduating amazing business professionals, but we are increasing the positive impact we have on the region and its businesses.”
Subramaniam assumed his new post on March 1. He replaced Kenneth Lord, who stepped down as dean of the Nazarian College last spring to help oversee the reaccreditation process for the college, among other projects. CSUN marketing professor Deborah Cours served as dean during the interim.
“I, myself, am an immigrant and can relate to the experiences of many of CSUN’s students,” said Subramaniam, who is a native of Malaysia.
He was working as an engineer for National Semiconductor in Malaysia when he decided to get a business degree in the United States. He was accepted at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
He arrived at the Duluth airport, bleary-eyed and exhausted from his 20-hour international flight. He knew no one in Duluth when the taxi dropped him off at the Buena Vista Hotel, and he collapsed on the bed. It was a different story when he woke up.
He got a call from the hotel’s owner, who offered to show him around town, and even drove him to the university’s international students office.
“Needless to say, my first impression of the United States was that it was very welcoming,” he said.
Subramaniam was an assistant professor of accounting at Texas Christian University before joining the University of Texas at Arlington in 2003. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Malaya, Malaysia, and a second baccalaureate degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He also holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and a doctorate in accounting from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
He has taught at multiple universities, including the University of Minnesota at Duluth and Twin Cities, Tongji University in Shanghai and University of Science and Technology, Beijing.
While at the University of Texas at Arlington, Subramaniam was an accounting professor before being named chair of the Department of Accounting in 2008. He held that post for six years. From 2014 to 2016, he served as associate dean of Arlington’s business college, and he was named interim dean of the college in 2016. He held that title until coming to CSUN.
In addition to his work with National Semiconductor, Subramaniam’s non-academic career includes working as director of the Small Business Development Center and Small Business Institute in north eastern Minnesota.
It was a job, he said, where he often “stood out as a 28- and 29-year-old kid from Malaysia” as he traveled to small towns in northern Minnesota working with small-business owners.
His research has largely focused on management incentives, executive compensation and corporate governance. He has been published primarily in finance and accounting journals, including the Journal of Finance; Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance; Journal of Business Finance and Accounting and Accounting Horizons, among others.
He has held board memberships in the Ft. Worth Chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs and Financial Executives International. He was awarded the 2015 Meritorious Service in Accounting Career Education by the Texas Society of CPAs, and was honored by Dallas CEO Magazine as one of 2018 “Most Powerful Business Leaders in Dallas-Ft. Worth.”