Stars of Stanford Medicine

Niraj Dangoria


Office of Facilities Planning and Management
Stanford School of Medicine

The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) has presented Niraj Dangoria, the school’s associate dean for facilities and planning, with its 2018 Distinguished Service Award.

In his 25 years as a member, Dangoria contributed to the organization in many ways. His goal: to nurture a diverse community of leaders that collectively elevates higher education planning. He admits this engagement is satisfying to him on both a personal and professional level. And the rewards are enhanced by the knowledge that the work that’s done ultimately benefits the entire higher education community.

“From his first leadership position on the professional development committee, to his work on the Pacific regional council, five annual conference committees, and the board of directors, Niraj consistently looked at ways to rethink and build opportunities for the organization,” said Robert Nalls, 2017-18 Chair of SCUP’s Board of Directors, and president of Nalls Architecture, Inc.

Embracing a new vision

As president of the SCUP board from 2012 to 2013, Dangoria took the organization through a complete governance overhaul. The following year, he led the caucus that hired SCUP’s first staff president. The more progressive leadership model positioned the organization to adopt a vision that shifted from a focus solely on facilities planning to an all-encompassing view that included other key elements of planning, such as finances and academics.

“We needed to have a much more integrated focus that melded all the institutional resources together,” Dangoria said. “By breaking down the silos and thinking of planning more as a tapestry, decisions could be made that would allow best outcomes to happen.”

And that’s not the only change that Dangoria helped to usher in at SCUP. Since joining the organization in his 20s – a much earlier start than most –  he’s been a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion within the ranks.

“I see the organization today as a much better representation of the higher education community, rich in diversity, background, demographics, and ethnicities,” he said. “It’s taken a long time to get there, but what I see today is really wonderful and so well worth it.”

Committing to national service

By bestowing this award, the SCUP Board of Directors honors Dangoria’s exceptional contributions to the organization.

“I am very proud that Niraj was recognized for his leadership in SCUP,” said Marcia Cohen, the school’s senior associate dean for finance and administration. “This award demonstrates the breadth of Niraj’s talents and his intense commitment of time and creativity for national service to improve planning capacity in all its forms in higher education institutions.”

Reflecting on his years with SCUP, Dangoria said he feels privileged to have been allowed by Stanford to contribute to this professional organization. He has really enjoyed the opportunity to mentor other young professionals, and to do the work of the organization by leading initiatives, serving on committees, and getting others engaged. Dangoria says he’s honored to receive the Distinguished Service award and considers it validation that his work with the organization has been recognized by his peers as contributing to the betterment of the organization and profession.

“It’s a wonderful recognition and acknowledgement,” Dangoria said. “One never volunteers for the reward, but when a recognition like this happens, it’s very special and I, for one, greatly appreciate it.”

Niraj Dangoria accepts the Society for College and University Planning's 2018 Distinguished Service Award at its annual conference in Nashville, TN.

Story by Jan Morrill.