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Gift from board member Jawaharlal ’86 will boost technology

Barry McNamara
07/23/2020
MONMOUTH, Ill. – In an April message to his customers at Lockstep Technology Group, President and CEO Mahendran Jawaharlal wrote, “You need to count on your technology and IT services more than ever during uncertain times – and we’ve got your back.”

A 1986 Monmouth College graduate who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., Jawaharlal also has his alma mater’s back during uncertain times. He recently committed to a $250,000 gift for the College’s “Light This Candle” campaign. The majority of the gift is designated for technology needs and enhancements, while the remaining $50,000 will support the College’s computer science department. The College’s “Light This Candle” campaign aims to raise a minimum of $75 million by Dec. 31, 2022.

Monmouth’s computer science department is near and dear to Jawaharlal’s heart. He majored in computer science before going to work for the College and directing its information technology department in the late 1980s.

“It’s important to give back,” said Jawaharlal. “Technology has made a difference in my life, and so has Monmouth College.”

A member of the College’s board of trustees since 2011, Jawaharlal has linked technology and higher education throughout his career. An operating partner at Renovus Capital Partners, he oversees Lockstep, a secure managed services provider that partners with businesses in strategic IT consulting, cybersecurity and managed IT/cloud services.

“Given his work, and the many hurdles that institutions of higher education faced this past spring, Mahendran understands the need for technology in the classroom and its availability across campus to make us not only competitive, but to keep up-to-date systems in place into the future,” said Monmouth Vice President for Development and College Relations Hannah Maher.

Jawaharlal said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need to better integrate technology into higher education to the forefront.

“With the pandemic, we saw a rise in asynchronous learning for content delivery, such as Zoom or Google Hangouts,” said Jawaharlal. “There are ways of deploying these technologies to make learning as similar as possible to what the students are used to experiencing. I don’t know that we’ve arrived at all the right ways of being connected with the college experience. It’s all a matter of how do you create those experiences and connections through technology? Professors who have successfully created those connections have found it easier to deliver content to their students and improve knowledge acquisition.”

On the ground floor

In many respects, Jawaharlal was on the ground floor of technological advances at Monmouth, both during his time as a student and in his professional IT work for the College. He recalls writing applications to help with enterprise resource planning and being an integral part of the implementation of CARS, the information system the College initially relied upon to manage data and records.

Jawaharlal worked closely with then-computer center director Richard Reno and with computer science professor Marta Tucker, and he grew close to Monmouth’s president at the time, the late Bruce Haywood.

“President Haywood took me under his wing and was a mentor to me,” said Jawaharlal, who came to Monmouth as a student in 1984.

“I’d been teaching computer science and accounting in Malaysia when I met (former Monmouth admissions director Drew Boster) in Singapore,” recalled Jawaharlal. “I flew into the Galesburg airport on Aug. 24, 1984, and Drew met me there. Driving into Monmouth from the airport was somewhat shocking. I’d never been in a city that small.”

Jawaharlal soon began his association with Reno, whom he credited for assembling a computer system for the College during the period when such technology was a new frontier in higher education.

“Dr. Reno had a brilliant mind, and he was able to connect with me very directly,” said Jawaharlal.

He also credited the late Mary Castle Josephson ’51, a former member of the College’s board of trustees, for helping him connect with President Haywood and for helping him to secure the financial aid that enabled him to remain a student at Monmouth.

A career in technology

Through his work in implementing CARS, the parent company recruited him as a support services manager in 1990. Jawaharlal ultimately worked his way up through CARS Information Systems to become its president/CEO/chairman in 1996, a position he held for five years.

Later, Jawaharlal earned a master of business administration from Florida International University’s College of Business, graduating first in his class.

Prior to joining Lockstep last March, right as the country was becoming fully immersed in the COVID-19 pandemic, Jawaharlal has worked with higher education to provide technology solutions, strategic consulting, student success and digital content delivery. Most recently, he was president and CEO of a strategic higher education consulting firm and with Lockstep has been providing strategic advice with Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium. Some of his previous positions have included president of Macmillan Enterprise Services Group and president/chief operating officer at Campus Management Corp.