Sri Lankan Nilakshi Parndigamage, has just been appointed as Dean of one of Yale University’s undergraduate colleges, Ezra Stiles. Nilakshi, who receieved her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Yale in 2006, has a juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, and has been practising as an attorney in the United States.
Nilakshi’s appointment was announced to the Ezra Stiles students by the Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway at a dinner held on Thursday, May 5. During his announcement, Dean Holloway noted Nilakshi’s leadership qualities and her many achievements at Yale and at the University of Virginia as making her particularly suited for the Dean position at Ezra Stiles College. Nilakshi has worked at various international human rights organizations in the Hague, Cape Town, Washington, D.C., and Baghdad, and has won numerous awards and fellowships relating to international law and human right. For the past five years, she has been practising as a lawyer specializing in complex commercial litigation at one of the world’s leading law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP in their New York and Washington, D.C. offices.
In her capacity as Dean, Nilakshi will be the chief academic advisor to the 500 undergraduates of Ezra Stiles College, help in all matters concerning their academic programmes, apply and enforce the Academic and Undergraduate Regulations that govern student behaviour, and will teach a class at Yale the following year.
Nilakshi, who is a past head prefect at Visakha Vidyalaya, attended Yale University on a full scholarship. During her time at Visakha, she won several international public speaking contests and was honoured at the Buckingham Palace by Prince Phillip for winning the ESU International Best Speaker Award, where she beat over 50 competitors from around the world to clinch the title. During her time at Visakha, she was also involved in Sinhala and English drama and debate, was a member of the Visakha swimming, water ballet, and water polo teams, and represented Sri Lanka at various UNESCO conferences.
As a student at Yale, Nilakshi was involved in many student activities, including serving as the President of the Yale Center for Buddhist Life, where she was instrumental in organizing what is believed to be Yale’s first overnight pirith chanting ceremony in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami.