Professor Janaka Yasantha Ruwanpura, Vice-Provost International (the equivalent to Pro-Vice Chancellor in the U.K. education system) at the University of Calgary, Canada was recently recognized with a prestigious Lifetime Achievement award from the Sri Lanka Foundation in Los Angeles.
The Sri Lanka Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed in June 2003 by Dr. Walter Jayasinghe, a well-known Sri Lankan-American physician in Los Angeles. With its head office in Los Angeles, California, the main focus of the Sri Lanka Foundation (SLF) is to promote Sri Lankan culture in the United States and globally. The SLF recognized a few other Sri Lankans living overseas for their service and contributions globally.
The SLF recognized Professor Ruwanpura’s contributions as he was instrumental in the enhancement of the University of Calgary’s reputation and international connections around the world. He has been an academic superstar by becoming a prestigious Canada Research Chair and a full professor within 10 years of his first appointment as an assistant professor.
Ruwanpura was born and raised in Colombo and is the only son of the late Dr. R.P. Sirisena, Medical Superintendent of Ayurvedic General Hospital (Colombo 8) and the late Nanda Sirisena. He was a distinguished student of Nalanda College, Colombo and held numerous leadership positions during his high school days. Ruwanpura lives with his wife Senani and their only son Seniru in Calgary.
Professor Ruwanpura earned a Bachelor of Science (honors) in quantity surveying from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (1992) and Master of Science in construction management from Arizona State University (1997). He also has a PhD in construction engineering and management from the University of Alberta (2001).
Ruwanpura was a lecturer in Quantity Surveying at the University of Moratuwa from 1992 to 1995. He was also an active quantity surveying consultant for a number of clients and companies in Sri Lanka.
After his PhD, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering in 2001 and promoted as an Associate Professor in 2006. He was then honoured with a Canada Research Chair in Project Management Systems in 2007 and succeeded to grow into a full professor in 2011. He also played a key role as the founding director of the Centre for Project Management in the Schulich School of Engineering since 2005 prior to taking his current role.
Early this year he was honoured with a “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” award at the 20th Distinction of Immigration Awards, Immigrant Society of Calgary. Some of his other awards include Canadian Society for Civil Engineering’s Walter Shanly Career Award, Brian D. Dunfield Educational Service Award from Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) and a rare honour with the “Industry Partnership Award” from the Calgary Construction Association.
Although he started his career in Quantity Surveying in Sri Lanka, he became a dual professional both in Engineering and Quantity Surveying in Canada. He is a licensed professional engineer in Alberta (P.Eng.), a professional quantity surveyor in Canada (PQS) and Sri Lanka – fellow (FIQS) and a chartered member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, United Kingdom (MRICS). In 2014, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering (FCSCE).
His current involvement in international activities is comprehensive, including teaching, training, research, administration and service activities. Professor Ruwanpura leads the implementation of the university’s international strategy.
By aligning international activities with the university’s vision and the strategic plans, the vice-provost Ruwanpura helps advance the institution’s efforts in international research, academic programming, staff and student mobility, programmatic partnerships, service and development. Earlier this month, Professor Ruwanpura’s leadership led the University of Calgary win the prestigious Board of Directors’ Award for Comprehensive Internationalization from the Canadian Bureau for International Education with only three and a half years of his committeemen in this area.
He is very charismatic, dynamic and has shown true leadership and great accomplishments from his school days at Nalanda College to university and beyond. He has been an entrepreneurial professional who has courageously tackled whatever challenges he encountered, whether it was specializing in both quantity surveying and engineering or giving up his research chair role to spearhead the University of Calgary’s international activities as a vice-provost.
He has generously volunteered his professional and personal expertise to Sri Lanka, exerting outstanding commitment without connecting to any politically ally. He was also a founding member and then the convener of the International Institute for Infrastructure Resilience and Reconstruction, a multi-university international consortium which provides overall leadership in research, education, planning, design and implementation for mitigation of the impact of natural disasters and infrastructure renewal and reconstruction projects in tsunami affected or underdeveloped regions. Because of the development of many innovative tools and processes related to Risk and Project Management, he had provided his consulting, professional and training services as President of JYR Consultants to companies, associations and organizations in many countries.