Prof. Naresh Chandra Mathur

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur


Naresh Chandra Mathur passed away on February 10, 2021. His last moments, as per his wishes, were spent peacefully at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Madhur, daughter Chitra, son Sharad, daughter-in-law Sangeeta, and grandsons Dhruv and Nikhil.

Born in Gurgaon in 1935 in pre-independence India, Naresh spent his childhood in the small princely state of Dholpur. From there he went to Delhi for his high school and college education, followed by an Engineering degree from IISc Bangalore and a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1958 he got his first job as a lecturer at University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee). Thus began an illustrious career in education which eventually spanned 53 years and three continents. A committed teacher and passionate researcher, Naresh found in education a vocation that, in his own words, allowed him to be paid for his ‘hobby’. This hobby led him to work at some of the top Institutes in the world – the University of Roorkee, IIT Kanpur, Max Plank Institute in Germany, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Harvard Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Illinois (Chicago), Indiana University/Purdue University (Fort Wayne), New Mexico Tech, University of Kansas, and UMKC. Among his many research contributions were the papers that formed the basis for the design of the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope project in New Mexico (prominently featured in the movie Contact). Naresh was also invited to fulfill various administrative positions in the field of education. As the Managing Director of Educational Consultants India Ltd (EdCIL), he helped set up institutes for higher learning in India and other Commonwealth countries. He went on to become the Vice-Chancellor of Roorkee University, and ended his remarkable innings in Indian education as the Vice-Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). After his retirement, Naresh continued his involvement with education from the other side, becoming a student once again at the age of 77, and taking courses at the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in various humanities and social sciences subjects every semester until the age of 84.

Though equally at home in India and the US, Naresh had a deep sense of commitment to his birth nation and therefore decided to spend his entire working life in India. He moved to the US post retirement, and eventually made this his country officially by taking US citizenship. While in India, he always conducted his life according to what he saw as the American work ethic. The openness to new experiences and ideas that he associated with this country defined not only his professional life, but also his personal one. This was most evident in the ways in which he always encouraged his children to pursue their own passions without ever attempting to shape their interests as a reflection of his own. It was with his support that his wife completed a second Masters after retirement in the US and continued her own illustrious teaching career at JCCC, where he then accompanied her as a student. And he was immensely proud of his grandchildren, of Dhruv who followed in his footsteps by choosing to pursue Electrical Engineering at UIUC, and of Nikhil, whose decision to become a pilot gave an exciting new direction to his grandfather’s fascination for the skies.

He left this world as he lived his life – content, fulfilled, and at peace. The values that guided his life ensured that he left his mark on everyone he came across and those personal relationships meant more to him than his professional accomplishments. Deeply loved and admired by his family, he will continue to live in their hearts and guide their lives through his example and the values he gave them.



  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 15th January 2022)

    Mrs Madhur Mathur

    I have been a student of Mrs Madhur Mathur during class 8th and 9th at DPS RKPuram in 1987 and have been trying to get in touch with them since we lost contact post school. They also fostered a pup named Titan and I was fortunate enough to spend a month of my holidays at the VC residence in Roorkee. I felt extremely sad on hearing the demise of N C Mathur. I would love to connect with the family if possible.

    Many thanks
    Regards, lots of love and belated condolences from my whole family.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 16th February 2021)

    All concerned

    Professor Naresh Mathur was a close friend since our student days at IISc. With him I spent many happy years at Roorkee as a department colleague. He and Madhur were close family friends in our campus life. With his warm and affable personality, Naresh commanded love and respect of everyone he came in contact with. We will sadly miss him.

    My wife Krishna joins me in conveying our sincerest condolence to Madhur ji, Chitra, Sharad and family.

    Allow me to conclude by thanking you, Professor Rajesh Hegde, for including me in this distinguished group. If I can be of any service, please let me know.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 15th February 2021)

    N. C. Mathur It is sad to know that Prof. Mathur is no more with us. However he has left a permanent mark on Earth through which he will always be with us. It is the Y shape design of Very Large Array. Here is what the National Radio Astronomy Observatory site has to say about it

    "The iconic “Y” shape of the VLA is not for looks, it’s for function. The wider an array is, the bigger its eye is, and the more detail it can see out in space. The VLA’s unique shape gives us three nice long arms of nine telescopes each. It also gives us the flexibility of stretching the arms when we need to zoom in for more detail."

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (wrote on 15th February 2021)

    obituary of Prof N C Mathur

    Prof Mathur, was an outright educator, but I had only a few interactions with him since I joined IIT Kanpur, as he was posted elsewhere during a major part of my stay here.

    However, we a few interactions on the telemetry of the upper atmosphere, being an alumni of the "Radiophysice & Electronics" department of Calcutta University, which is the first and an institute of excellence in India on this topic.


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