"Kewpie of the Month" for December 2003
Mathukumalli Vidyasagar
Class of 1961

Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, known as "Sagar" to friends, joined Hickman High School in 1960, when his family moved to Columbia from Tirupati, a small town in South India.  His father was a math professor in India, and joined Mizzou in the same capacity.  He came to Missouri when he was just short of thirteen, along with his parents and nine year-old sister.  Their arrival caused a sensation in Columbia, as many people were seeing Indian children for the first time.

Sagar graduated from Hickman High in 1961, after getting credit for the coursework done in India.  He remembers well the Math class of Ms. Nellie Kitchen, and the French class of Ms. Lola Hawkins.  Going to school by bus was a novelty.  He used to walk to school in India -- yes, his hometown in India was EVEN SMALLER than Columbia!

Seeing snow for the first time was a thrill.

After graduating from Hickman High, he joined Mizzou in the Electrical Engineering Department.  However, in 1963, his father finished his three-year tenure on the J-1 visa, and the US immigration authorities told him that further extension was not possible.  This was back before the US immigration laws were relaxed by abolishing the quotas based on nationalities.  (Back then, only 100 immigrants from India were accepted every year by the USA.)  So his family moved to the town of Edmonton, Canada, where his parents still live.  (Both of them are retired, obviously.)  Sagar himself decided to stay on in the USA, and shifted to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, receiving the Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. degrees in 1965, 1967, and 1969 respectively.

After completing his Ph.D., Sagar worked as a Professor of Electrical Engineering for twenty years in Canada, with occasional visiting appointments at various American universities.  In 1989 he decided to return to India to head a research laboratory under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.  In 2000 he took up his current assignment as an Executive Vice President in charge of Advanced Technology at Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest IT company, and India's first billion-dollar IT company.

Sagar's situation is unique in that he has returned to India while his parents and sister still live abroad.  His parents continue to live in Edmonton, Canada, while his sister lives with her family in Ventura, California.  He and his family have become well-settled in the tropical climate and easy-going lifestyle of India.  He enjoyed his time abroad, he says, but in middle age he definitely enjoys living in his native country.

Sagar has always been avid sports player, and in his younger days, an avid sports fan as well.  While living in North America, he used to follow all the major sports, but his most passionate support was reserved for the Montreal Canadiens during the decade he lived in Montreal (1970-80).  Since returning to India, he has become a keen follower of the Indian cricket team, like most middle-class Indians.

Dr. Vidyasagar, Perspective & Professional Page
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