Former student, mentor forever connected by endowed scholarship

The dedicated teaching and guidance of a Mississippi State University faculty member helped spark a successful career in public service for one of his best students. In appreciation, the former student is saluting his mentor with an academic scholarship.

When Scott Ross attended Mississippi State from 1978 to 1982, his favorite undergraduate professor was Krishnaprasad “Kris” G. Bhansali of Starkville. In honor of Bhansali’s passion for his field and the impact he made on his students, Ross has established the Kris Bhansali Endowed Scholarship in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Eighty-seven-year-old Bhansali came to the United States from his native India to follow his dream of becoming a teacher. He earned an undergraduate degree in his home country and came to the United States to earn a doctoral degree at American University in Washington, D.C. From there, he spent two years in his first academic appointment at the University of Houston-Texas, before relocating to Mississippi because he wanted to teach in an environment where he could personally know his colleagues and interact with his students.

Bhansali joined the MSU faculty in 1966 and was a professor of political science at the time of his retirement in 2001. During his three decades at the university, Bhansali shared a passion for political science with his students.

“As I began studying international relations under Kris, I was hooked on political science and he made it a complete way of thinking for me,” said Ross, who is a practicing attorney and businessman in West Point. “Kris’s classes and experiences made the political science major of study fun, and I definitely enjoyed the coursework and the intensity with which he taught.”

L-R: Krishnaprasad Bhansali and Scott Ross

Ross, a former Mississippi legislator and mayor of West Point, credits his success in state and local politics in part to Bhansali’s teaching methods and inspiration. He established the scholarship in the hope that current Mississippi State students will learn of the reputation of Bhansali and appreciate how the distinguished professor inspired an earlier generation of learners.

“Kris opened the eyes of a Mississippi native who had never been anywhere in the world. It was a culture lesson in his class, and I and many of my classmates would often visit with him, and his wife, Julie, in his home,” Ross said. “He always extended his hospitality and in the process provided us with a wealth of knowledge into politics, government, and cultures across the world.”

Ross completed a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1982 and readily embarked on a career in public service before earning a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi.

“When Scott was elected to the Mississippi legislature, I was extremely proud of his accomplishment and certainly everything he has done since that time, personally and professionally,” Bhansali said.

Ross served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 to 1992, spending nine years of service on the universities and colleges committee. He was appointed to the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees for a term from May 2000 to May 2012. His resume also includes several years as a trustee and adjunct professor for Mary Holmes College, and as a state and local politics specialist for the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State.

Mississippi needs effective political and government leaders, and Ross hopes the scholarship will help educate and inspire future generations to serve at the local, state and national levels.

Edward Clynch, a professor emeritus of political science and public administration is pleased the scholarship will enhance the legacy of his former Mississippi State colleague.

“Kris Bhansali literally changed lives and was a positive influence on his students inside and beyond the classroom,” said Clynch, who served as a longtime political science department head in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Kris Bhansali Endowed Scholarship will assist full-time undergraduate students in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Preference will be given to academically competitive students with a demonstrated interest in international relations.

“The scholarship is wonderful, and I am extremely pleased to have my name always connected to MSU. It is a place I am privileged to have found as my career home and I am grateful for the people I met, like Scott, who are now part of my extended family,” Bhansali said.

Former students and colleagues impacted by Bhansali have an opportunity to assist in growing the scholarship endowment. Individuals may contact Alex McIntosh, director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences, at 662.325.3240 or for additional information on honoring Bhansali with a contribution.

Story by Amy Cagle | Photography by Russ Houston