Patrick French was appointed as the inaugural Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad in the summer of 2017. He holds an additional position as Professor for the Public Understanding of the Humanities, advocating for their importance in a well-rounded education. Professor French is an award-winning historian and biographer, and has a PhD in South Asian Studies and MA in English and American Literature, both from the University of Edinburgh. In 2016-18, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University, and in 2018 was Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He has held visiting positions at Ashoka University, the University of Warwick, the University of the South Pacific, NYU Abu Dhabi and the University of Pennsylvania.
Patrick French’s books have won awards including the Hawthornden Prize, the Royal Society of Literature WH Heinemann Prize, the US National Book Critics Circle Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. His works of history, biography and contemporary political analysis include India: A Portrait 2011, London: Allen Lane; New York: Knopf; New Delhi: Penguin; Lisbon: Temas e Debates (Portuguese); New Delhi: Penguin (Hindi); Amsterdam: Atlas (Dutch); Barcelona: Duomo (Spanish); The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul 2008, London: Picador; New York: Knopf; Barcelona: Duomo (Spanish); Beijing: CITIC (Chinese); Antwerp: Atlas (Dutch); Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land 2003, London: Harper Collins; New York: Knopf; Moscow ACT (Russian); Warsaw: Ushuaia (Polish); Paris: Albin Michel (French); Prague: BB Art (Czech); New Delhi: Penguin (Hindi); Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division 1997, London: Harper Collins; New Delhi: Harper Collins; New Delhi: Penguin (Hindi); Amsterdam: Atlas (Dutch); and Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 1994, London: Harper Collins; Milano: Sperling & Kupfer (Italian); New Delhi: Penguin (Hindi); Malaysia: Marco Polo (Chinese). He is presently writing the official biography of the Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing.
Since becoming inaugural Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Professor French has promoted interdisciplinary teaching and research, and extended the scope of courses to cover Indian and South Asian intellectual traditions. Alongside the Integrated Masters and PhD programme in Life Sciences, the School now offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programmes, with specialisations in History, Economics, Psychology, Physics and Computer Science, and innovative new Majors in Social and Political Sciences (SPS), and Philosophy, History and Languages (PHL). The Seminar and Lecture Series has brought in eminent academic and public policy specialists from India and internationally. The School is presently establishing PhD programmes in Physics and in Humanities and Social Sciences. Professor French puts a particular emphasis on academic distinction, on a commitment to mentorship for students and faculty, and on advancing the research and public value of the School of Arts and Sciences so as to enable it to connect with the communities it serves.