Office of the President

March 13, 2019

Mourning the loss of Vikram Jandhyala

Ana Mari Cauce

The celebration of life for Vikram Jandhyala will take place Thursday, May 9 at 4 p.m. in The HUB Ballroom. For guests unable to attend in person, a video livestream will be available on this page. Please see this post for more details on how to attend.


This has been a difficult quarter for our community. We’ve experienced several heartbreaking losses, including some recent tragic losses in our student community. Some of these losses have been private, and some well-known, and all are profoundly felt by the family and friends left behind.VikramJandhyala

I’m deeply saddened to report another loss for our community. Vikram Jandhyala, UW vice president for innovation strategy, has died by suicide.

Support and resources

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line
741741

If the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger of killing themselves and/or refuses to stay safe with you, call or text 911.

SafeCampus
206-685-SAFE (7233)

UW CareLink
866-598-3978

UW Counseling Center
206-543-1240

Forefront Suicide Prevention
866-598-3978

We are heartbroken at this loss for Vikram’s family and loved ones, for his colleagues, and for our community as a whole. Included in this post are resources if you or someone you know needs help processing this loss or is currently struggling with thoughts of suicide — please make full use of them, and encourage others to do the same. The reasons underlying every suicide are complex and we may never fully understand them, but honoring our loved ones is an important part of the healing process.

Vikram was an innovator in every sense of the word, and someone for whom “inclusive innovation” wasn’t just a catchphrase, but a guiding principle. This was core to his belief in combining innovation with empathy, because as he put it, “Once we understand someone else, compassion is what makes us want to help them.” This advocacy for what Vikram called a “Seattle style of innovation” can be seen in his leadership of CoMotion and in communities not just in the Puget Sound, but around the world.

We were all fortunate to witness what he helped create through CoMotion — evolving it from a tech transfer office into a true hub for innovation and innovators — and through the groundbreaking Global Innovation Exchange.  Both will stand as testaments to Vikram’s legacy.

As a professor and former chair in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering — and the son of two physics professors — Vikram was a scholar in every sense of the word. He took pride in teaching and mentoring students, as well as in his award-winning research in fields ranging from design thinking to computational and data science.

Vikram also understood entrepreneurship because he was an entrepreneur himself, crossing back and forth between academia and the private sector, and having founded Nimbic in 2006 with his students. Vikram knew the challenges academics face bridging the gap between universities and the marketplace, and he used that understanding to guide and mentor countless colleagues. I know how proud he was of all his students who are now doing great work across industry and academia.

If you would like to share a memory of Vikram or support his two sons, ages 7 and 5, who will be cared for by their mother, Suja Vaidyanathan, his family asks that you do so at the memorial site they have established. Details on a celebration of his life will be forthcoming.

Vikram was always striving for excellence and was driven by his belief that we should never stop learning. Whether it was exploring the sights and tastes of our region with his sons or the time he put into studying new fields and in fostering new connections, he was always seeking to learn something new. It was Vikram’s curiosity that I’ll remember — and miss — the most.

Support resources have been provided to the departments with which Vikram was closely affiliated. We’ve been providing similar support for other painful losses, such as our outreach to residence hall residents whose halls were impacted by tragedy.

As we conclude a quarter where we’ve grieved the deaths of friends and loved ones, please look out for yourselves and for each other. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it or to ask someone if they need help — that’s what being part of this community is all about: supporting each other.