Prof. Usha Kumar


Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur


Professor Usha Kumar, retired professor of Psychology, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, passed away in Hyderabad on August 14, 2016. She had not been keeping well for quite some time, and as one of her colleagues, also a retired faculty, IIT Kanpur, put it, “She had her share of suffering (cancer, fracture) and faced it bravely like only human beings can”.

Professor Usha Kumar was born on August 22, 1931 in Lahore, now in Pakistan. Her family migrated to India and during her early days she stayed in Lucknow, U.P. She went to Isabella Thoburn College in Lucknow in 1950 for her undergraduate education. She did her Masters from Lucknow University. Afterwards, she proceeded to Ohio State University, USA, for her Ph.D., and later on joined University of Michigan, USA, for her postdoctoral research work. She joined IIT Kanpur in October 1967, and continued to be with the Institute until her retirement on 31 December 1991. After her retirement, she chose to settle down in Hyderabad, where she remained until her last days.

Professor Kumar was trained in the area of clinical psychology and had keen interest in the area of developmental and personality psychology too. She also had developed herself as an industrial-organizational consultant, and was a highly sought after expert at many business houses. A renowned scholar and an avid teacher, she also contributed to academics at IIT Kanpur through her guidance of research students in Psychology. Her courses at IIT Kanpur were some of the most popular ones and she is still very fondly remembered by her students worldwide, some of whom returned back to IIT Kanpur as faculty members themselves. In addition, she was also associated with the Students’ Counselling Service at IIT Kanpur. Many of the old time faculty members at IIT Kanpur have fond memories of her charming personality.


  • Prof. Mohini Mullick (wrote on 05th Sep, 2016)

    Usha and I go back more than half a century. For me her loss is like I have lost a part of my own past. We met in Isabella Thoburn College in Lucknow in 1950 and graduated together. We were together in the same department at the university; she did Psychology, I Philosophy.
    Then we parted ways, only to find ourselves colleagues at IIT Kanpur! There she charmed people, students and faculty alike. Many will remember her as a campus psychologist as well. Wherever I travelled, if there was talk of IIT Kanpur, people knew Usha. I have even been asked by people who had not met her: Oh! are you Usha Kumar? Sadly, I was not!
    We remained in touch till the end, calling on each other’s birthday. And I was telling myself: I will call her on the 22nd August, her birthday
    I wish she had waited another week or so ….

  • Prof. Lilavati Krishnan (wrote on 05th Sep, 2016)

    Ushaji's demise is, indeed, a loss. I knew her as a senior colleague in Psychology since the day I joined the department, until she retired.She was instrumental in initiating me into the department, and I did get some tips that helped me in teaching very bright students at an Institute of technology. Professionally, she contributed to Psychology in many ways, through her teaching as well as collaborative research at the international level. Her involvement with the Student Counselling Service cannot be forgotten, particularly because it was at a time when the counselling scenario in the institute was quite different.
    May her soul rest in peace!

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 09th Sep, 2016)

    Ushaji was more than a Professor of Psychology. She was the soul and spirit behind the Counselling Service. Because of Prof. Kelkar and her vision, it was started in late 1960s and the Counselling Service at IITK had become a pioneer for all other IITs. Personally I benefited by her guidance in counselling and discharge the duties.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 16th Sep, 2016)

    Prof Usha Kumar enlivened the campus all through her stay. Her courses were most sought after as was her advice in matters intricate,apart from the counselling service. She, a psychologist, was the most sought after consultant from IITK, an Institute of Technology, by large business houses for many many years. I can still recall her walking straight with head held high, smiling and always ready to engage in good discussions which usually were a learning experience. When on retirement she moved, IITK was so much the poorer. Pray that her soul rests in peace.


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