Inquisitive, hardworking and unique are just some of the words fellow faculty members have used to describe Vijay Krishna Reddy, the late professor of speech communication, who passed away Sept. 8, 2013.
Reddy had been with IU Southeast since 1994 and in that short time he not only helped increase enrollment numbers in the advertising program, but also created the program itself.
James Kaufman, professor of speech communication, said that before Reddy came to IU Southeast, the program did not even exist.
“He put his time, devotion and all the energy he had into creating the program,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman said that with anything that Reddy did, he put everything he had into it if he knew it could help others.
“He was a very sweet man who was really focused on other people,” Kaufman said. “He was always thinking about others. He didn’t care about getting prestige or getting credit or even a thank you.”
Kaufman had worked alongside Reddy for many years and said that it was a challenge working with him, but in a good way.
“He was always thinking, he was always learning, the wheels were always turning and he was always reading something new,” Kaufman said. “He always seemed on-the-go intellectually, and sometimes it was hard to just keep up with all he knew.”
Kaufman said that he also learned a lot from him culturally. Reddy was born in India, and practiced a lot of the area’s customs. One in particular caught Kaufman off guard.
“We were working together and nonchalantly he mentioned to me that he was going home (to India) and coming back with a bride,” Kaufman said. “He looked at me and could tell I was kind of out-of- sorts and he smiled a bit, but even in that instance I had learned so much about the traditions of an arranged marriage, and I continued to learn from him.”
Many students have said they have learned quite a bit from Reddy. One in particular, J.R. Ramsey, lecturer of speech communication, said not only did he lose a great teacher, but a great colleague and friend.
Before Ramsey started teaching at IU Southeast he had Reddy as a professor in 1994, his first year of teaching.
“While he may have been informal he was a very challenging professor,” Ramsey said.
In the speech class Ramsey had with Reddy one of the first projects given was to talk about a well-regarded person in a negative light.
“I chose Gandhi,” Ramsey said. “’Your professor’s from India; this probably wasn’t the best choice’ I remember thinking. After I gave the speech he said ‘Hey, why don’t you come over to my office after class.’”
Ramsey said he recalled feeling very apprehensive as he headed to his office.
“All he said was ‘that was a pretty bold selection you made, but it was a very excellent speech’,” Ramsey said. “He commended me for making a tough choice and in a lot of ways that earned us mutual respect of each other and brought us a lot closer.”
Ramsey said that Reddy had a huge impact on his life.
“Vijay was very instrumental in many ways in my undergrad, grad school and my professional career,” Ramsey said. “Once I graduated from IU Southeast, he encouraged me to go to grad school, and from there he helped me to get my first job at Clark Memorial Hospital. Once a position at IU Southeast opened Vijay immediately informed me and helped me to land the job, and I’m still here.”
Ramsey said he really admired Reddy and how he was able to create an instant personal relationship with almost everyone he knew.
“He was quite a champion for the students,” Ramsey said. “He strived to find a place for them once they left the world of academia. While he may have been scatterbrained when it came to other things, he never forgot anyone.”
Both Kaufman and Ramsey attended the funeral held for Reddy at IU Southeast on Sept. 14 2013 and both said there were a lot of individuals that attended, ranging from former students to family members.
Ramsey said the funeral was an emotional roller coaster.
“There was an overarching theme to Vijay’s service, which was that each person that was there Vijay had made them feel unique and special,” Ramsey said. “It made me see that I wasn’t the exception to Vijay’s behavior; I’m part of the rule to it.”
Kaufman, who was asked to emcee the funeral, said that more than 200 people were at the event to honor him.
“This just wasn’t a great loss personally, but professionally. Vijay has helped so many people.”
At the funeral, instead of buying flowers or gifts for the family, monetary donations were accepted to help to start the Vijay Krishna Reddy scholarship for IU Southeast students, so Vijay can, once again, help others thanklessly.