Kusum Singh, professor emerita of educational research and evaluation in the Virginia Tech School of Education, died on Feb. 22, 2021.

A tireless supporter of students and a generous role model to her colleagues, Singh leaves a legacy of scholarship and dedication to the greater good.

She began her career in 1992 as an assistant professor at Virginia Tech in the educational research and evaluation program after receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Agra University in India and her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.

Singh was recognized early on for her promise as a researcher, earning an Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. She was a highly recognized scholar, particularly in the area of academic achievement in mathematics and science. She published more than 40 articles in top-tier journals, including the Review of Educational Research and the Journal of Educational Research.

She also served on editorial boards and presented her research around the world. She served as a program director at the National Science Foundation for several years, and she was the recipient of several of the foundation’s grants.

She taught regression and quantitative methods courses, and students from the School of Education and departments across the university sought out her classes. She received numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious William E. Wine Award for Teaching Excellence, and she served as chair of the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence.

An acclaimed mentor and advisor, Singh served as chair or co-chair of 34 Ph.D. committees in the School of Education and served on many other doctoral committees in such areas as human development, psychology, business, and engineering. The university honored her with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising in 2008.

Before starting graduate school, Singh was a yoga and meditation teacher, and many members of the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities were her devoted students. She seamlessly relied on her yoga practice in all areas of her life, offering her students and colleagues a balanced blend of compassion, knowledge, and wisdom. Whether serving as program area leader for the educational research and evaluation program, on the Diversity Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, in the classroom, or on Ph.D. committees, Singh improved her colleagues’ and students’ lives.

She was loved by those students and colleagues, who described her as a “beautiful spirit,” “always smiling,” “a bright star,” “warm and present,” and “attentive and supportive.” Wayne Worner, former interim dean of what was then the Virginia Tech College of Education, called Singh a “competent and caring professional” before adding, “My most positive memories are remembering Kusum as my friend.” 

Singh was a loving and devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She is survived by her husband, Mahendra Singh, the Preston Wade Professor Emeritus of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering; their three children, Smita, Sonu, and Sarika; their children’s spouses, Tim, Jennifer (JJ), and Aaron; and their six grandchildren. She was so proud of them all.

The family plans to hold a memorial celebrating her life later this year.

Written by Katherine Allen, professor emerita in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, and Bonnie Billingsley, professor in the School of Education.

Mahendra and Kusum Singh
Kusum Singh is survived by her husband, Mahendra Singh, the Preston Wade Professor Emeritus of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, as well as their three children, Smita, Sonu, and Sarika; their children’s spouses, Tim, Jennifer (JJ), and Aaron; and their six grandchildren.

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