Gupta praises AU for helping him on his career path to superintendent job
Neil Gupta says his career wouldn’t have advanced as successfully as it has without Ashland University.
“All the jobs I’ve gotten have directly been related to what AU prepared me for,” said Gupta, whose recent job advancement was being named superintendent of the Oakwood school district in the Dayton area.
Not only has Gupta earned a master’s degree (educational curriculum and instruction) and a doctorate (educational leadership) from AU, he also has served on its alumni board and is in his second year on the university’s board of trustees.
“I talk proudly that I’m an Ashland alum and wear it proudly,” said Gupta, who received an alumni award in 2019 – the Professor Raymond Bixler Award, which is given to any member of the AU faculty or alumna/alumnus who has achieved distinction at another institution.
AU President Carlos Campo said Gupta is an exemplary board member and alumnus.
“His commitment to excellence is reflected in his professional and personal life,” Campo said. “We are proud of his accomplishments and know he will continue to improve the lives of students each day.”
Gupta earned both of his AU degrees in 2001 and 2006, while working at Ashland City Schools, first as a high school math teacher and then as an assistant principal, followed by the director of secondary curriculum.
After getting his bachelor’s degree in education in 1996 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Gupta returned to teach in his hometown. He is a 1993 Ashland High School graduate.
His goal was to stay in the classroom after receiving his master’s degree, but one of his AU professors encouraged him to consider administration.
“Herb Broda, who I took a few classes with, took me to lunch after I got my master’s and said I would be a good doctoral program candidate,” Gupta said. “That was not on my mind. Because of him I applied to the doctorate program.”
He still keeps a photo of his AU doctorate adviser, Harold Wilson, in his office because of how Wilson got him out of his comfort zone and pushed him to be the best he could be, Gupta said.
Leaving Ashland also wasn’t on his mind. His wife Kari (Bardy) is a 1996 Ashland High School graduate, and they both still have quite a bit of family in Ashland.
“I thought I would stay in Ashland forever,” Gupta said.
Because of the respect he had for the person who asked him to consider an administrative job in the New Albany school district, Gupta said he agreed to interview in 2012, which led to the director of teaching and learning position there, followed by the director of assessment and programs.
But when a levy in New Albany failed, Gupta was laid off after three years there.
“Luckily, Worthington posted a position at that time for director of secondary education,” Gupta said. “It was good timing career-wise and from a stress-level standpoint. It helped knowing people in the Columbus area.
“Worthington is a great district,” added Gupta, who will finish out the school year there before officially starting at Oakwood on Aug. 1. “I’m going to miss the people at Worthington. There’s an amazing team here. They have become like family to me and my family.”
The timing is right again for his latest career move as both of his children will graduate this spring – his oldest son, Keegan, from the University of Dayton with a major in marketing and a minor in entrepreneurship, and his other son, Jaiden, from Olentangy High School who then will go to the University of Akron for pre-med. And his wife, who is a nurse for OhioHealth, is excited about the number of great hospitals to work for in Dayton, he said.
“Everything checks the boxes,” he said. “Oakwood has a great reputation and good community involvement.
“I’m looking forward to this next journey of building relationships with the community and staff,” he added.
Gupta said his superintendent at Worthington, Trent Bowers, actually encouraged him to take the next step in his career and pursue the Oakwood superintendent’s job.
“Dr. Gupta is a special educator,” Bowers said. “I believe Neil will be very successful in Oakwood. When I was going through my doctoral work at Ashland, Dr. Harold Wilson would remind us that there is no leadership without followership. Neil is someone who because of his personal behavior and his exemplary work is worth following.”