Endowed scholarship established in honor of professor emeritus and wife

UTA endowment will fund scholarships for international electrical engineering students

Thursday, Nov 17, 2022 • Herb Booth : Contact

Vasant and Barbara Prabuh
Vasant and Barbara Prabhu

Seven electrical engineering graduates of The University of Texas at Arlington have established an endowment in honor of Professor Emeritus Vasant Prabhu and his late wife, Barbara.

The Barbara and Vasant Prabhu Scholarship Endowment by his Graduate Students will fund scholarships for top-performing undergraduate or graduate international students in the Department of Electrical Engineering, with preference given to those whose thesis focus is on communications and signal processing.

The donors, Mini Vasudevan (’98 PhD, ’93 MS), Stone Tseng (’94 PhD, ’87 MS), Arun Bhikshesvaran (’95 MS), Srinivas Pillappakkam (’96 MS), Cesar Heyaime-Duvergé (’03 PhD, ’97 MS), Kiran Kuchi (’06 PhD, ’97 MS) and Tony Wong (’99 PhD, ’87 MS), were seeking a way to show appreciation for their former professor and mentor while supporting a new generation of telecommunications professionals. Wong shared the idea to create an endowed scholarship.

“The idea immediately resonated with six other former graduate students,” Wong said. “It is our hope that this scholarship will provide deserving international students a chance to focus on their education, and that recipients will remember our stories and be proud of the legacy of Dr. Prabhu.”

The former students hope that honoring their professor with an endowment will create a long-lasting legacy, support students financially and inspire others to find ways to recognize professors who have made significant impacts on their students academically and professionally.

“The relationship between Dr. Prabhu and his former students illustrates how the extraordinary work of our professors can influence the lives of their students,” UTA President Jennifer Cowley said. “Lifelong mentorships are created here, and they are a key contributor to what makes UTA such an impactful university.”

A 1991 photo of Vasant Prabhu with his invention, a cellular wrist phone called the Personal Communication System." _languageinserted="true
A 1991 photo of Vasant Prabhu with his invention, a cellular wrist phone called the Personal Communication System. (Photo Courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, UTA Special Collections)

Prabhu’s career has spanned multiple decades and includes significant contributions to wireless communication, such as the invention of a cellular wrist phone he named the Personal Communication System in 1991. He spent more than 30 years with Bell Labs and taught in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UTA from 1991 until 2008. Prabhu has received multiple awards for both teaching and research.

“Dr. Prabhu has made significant contributions both to the field of telecommunications electrical engineering and to the lives of many students,” said Dr. Diana Huffaker, UTA Electrical Engineering Department chair. “This scholarship is a fitting tribute to his impact in our department and at UTA, and it’s especially meaningful because it was initiated by his students.”

In a group statement, the seven former students said he is a “brilliant professor and a unique individual who instills deep passion and immense compassion simultaneously to those around him, especially to the ones whose lives he has touched positively and transformed beyond measure. The personal connections he shares with each one of us, along with his desire to stay in touch and be part of all the major milestones of our lives, have been deeply cherished by all of us.”

Prabhu said he was touched by their gift in his honor.

“There is no better compliment to a professor than an acknowledgement by students that he has made a difference in their career,” Prabhu said.