Prior to becoming President of Cooper Union, Bharucha was Provost and Senior Vice President of Tufts University and Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Music and in the Medical School's Department of Neuroscience. Prior to Tufts he was the John Wentworth Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Dartmouth College, where he received the Huntington Teaching Award. His research is in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, focusing on the cognitive and neural basis of the perception of music. He was Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Music Perception and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is a Trustee of Vassar College, where he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Alumnae & Alumni of Vassar College.
Jamshed Bharucha was born in Mumbai, India. His father Jal Bharucha, a Parsi engineer from Mumbai, and mother Elizabeth Bharucha (born Elizabeth Emily Robinson) a musician from Albany, New York, met at the University of Michigan. Jal Bharucha was the first engineer in India to employ computers in structural design, using an early facility at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in the 1960s. Elizabeth Bharucha was organist and choral director at the Scots Kirk (Church of Saints Andrew & Columba) and the All Saints Church in Mumbai. Jal and Elizabeth were founding members of the Bombay International School, from which Jamshed graduated.
Bharucha graduated from Vassar College where he majored in biopsychology (1978), then received an M.A. in philosophy from Yale University (1979) and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Harvard University (1983). He spent the 1982-83 academic year at Cornell University. At Harvard he worked with Stephen Kosslyn, William K. Estes and Roger Brown.
Bharucha studied violin in Mumbai, received an Associate’s Diploma in violin performance from Trinity College of Music (London) in 1973 and then studied violin at Vassar. He was a member of the Bombay Chamber Orchestra; the Vassar College Orchestra under the direction of Luis Garcia-Renart; the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra performing at Sanders Theatre under the direction of James Yannatos; and the Bach Society Orchestra of Harvard University.
Bharucha spent most of his academic career at Dartmouth College, where he was the John Wentworth Professor and rose from Associate Dean for the Social Sciences to Deputy Provost to Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. He was the first Indian American to be named dean of a school at an Ivy League institution. While in the Dartmouth administration, he established the Dartmouth Brain Imaging Center - the first teaching and research MRI facility outside a medical school, accessible to undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. His principal faculty appointment was in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, but he also taught in the Program in Linguistics & Cognitive Science and the Program in Electroacoustic Music (now called Digital Musics).
As an academic administrator, he launched initiatives on teaching and research, as well as their integration in the form of active learning, encouraging undergraduates to get involved in research with their professors.
Bharucha chaired a self-study committee on the future of computing, which made recommendations designed to build on Dartmouth's historic strengths in academic computing. The two principal recommendations have since been implemented via the creation of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science and the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. Bharucha himself has developed two computer-based teaching tools: MindLab, which enables undergraduates to design and conduct experiments in cognitive psychology, and DartNet, which allows undergraduates to build and test simple neural net models. As Deputy Provost he oversaw the newly created Institute for Security Technology Studies and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network.
Bharucha moved from Dartmouth to Tufts in 2002 to assume the position of Provost & Senior Vice President. As Provost, he was the chief academic officer of the university, overseeing the seven schools, the Tisch College, the Institute for Global Leadership, the Fares Center and the Clinical & Translational Research Institute.
Bharucha recruited to Tufts Vali Nasr, Nalini Ambady, Ray Jackendoff, Gina Kuperberg, Mathias Scheutz and Peniel Joseph. During his tenure, the volume of sponsored research doubled, the average number of patents per year from research doubled, and revenues from technology transfer and industrial collaboration increased tenfold.
Bharucha launched the Summer Scholars program, which provides opportunities for undergraduate students to work on collaborative research with faculty across the university and its affiliated hospitals. He also launched the University Seminar, a cross-disciplinary course, open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students.
Additions to the campus during his tenure include the Granoff Music Center and the rebuilt Neuroscience Department at the Tufts School of Medicine.
He has published on the topic of higher education partnerships with Asia. At Tufts, he and Dean Harris Berman of the Tufts Medical School established a joint program in Public Health with the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India.
Bharucha was appointed as the twelfth president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art effective July 1, 2011.
In October 2011, the administration announced that the institution had a $16.5 million annual deficit, and that the financial model was not sustainable in its current form. Although the rent income from the Chrysler building (upon which Cooper Union relies) is scheduled to increase dramatically in 2018-19, it remains flat for the following decade. With other expected revenues, the annual increase in revenues would not keep up with inflation. The administration announced a short term challenge (managing the deficit until 2018) and a long term challenge (keeping up with inflation beyond that date). The administration appointed an "Expense Reduction Task Force" and a "Revenue Task Force". A budget cut of $4 million was implemented, and a range of ideas about new revenue sources was discussed. These sources included new fee-based programs such as master's programs, summer programs, postbaccalaureate programs, pre-college programs, and the possibility of some reduction in the full-scholarship policy for undergraduates.
The possibility that the undergraduate students might have to incur some tuition charges after 154 years evoked controversy and protest, including a one-week occupation of the Peter Cooper Suite (on the top floor of the main building) by 11 Cooper Union students. On April 23, 2013, Bharucha and the administration of Cooper Union announced that they would end the policy of full tuition scholarships, charging all students effective Fall 2014. From May 8 to July 12, 2013, a large and varying group of students had occupied Bharucha's office at Cooper Union in opposition to the decision to charge tuition. On July 12, the students reached an agreement with the Board of Trustees that ended the occupation. Under this agreement student representation would be given in a new task force set up to explore options which could lead Cooper Union back to its original tuition-free policy.
The short term challenge (managing the deficit until 2018) was met with a $58 million bridge loan.Is Music the Language of Emotions? on YouTube New York Academy of Sciences, Music and the Mind: The Magical Power of Sound, December 12, 2012.
The Dirty Little Secret About Learning on YouTube TEDx Cooper Union, April 2012.
Good Vibrations: The Science of Sound (with John Schaefer, Jacob Kierkegaard, Polygraph Lounge, Christopher Shera, Mark Whittle) World Science Festival, New York, June 3, 2010.
Behind the Universal Language, Soundcheck (Radio interview with John Schaefer) WNYC, New York, June 12, 2009.
Notes and Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus (with John Schaefer, Bobby McFerrin, Daniel Levitin & Lawrence Parsons) World Science Festival, New York, June 12, 2009.
Reconciliation in Iraq (Interview with Barbara Macleod) New England Cable News, July 8, 2008
Iraqi Leaders Find Common Ground in Secrecy (Interview with John Moroney) New England Cable News, April 28, 2008.
The Library Café (Radio interview with Thomas Hill) WVKR, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Grey Matters: Music and the Brain (Radio interview with Mandy Patinkin) Public Radio International, March 1998.
The Mystery of Music: How it Works in the Brain (by Sandra Blakeslee) New York Times, May 16, 1995.
Music of the Hemispheres (by James Shreeve) Discover Magazine, October 1, 1995.
Bharucha, J.J. (2009). Overlapping crises. Inside Higher Ed, December 10.
Bharucha, J. (2008). Cognitive dilemmas in higher education. In M.E. Devlin (Ed.), Futures Forum 2008. Cambridge, MA: Forum for the Future of Higher Education and NACUBO.
Bharucha, J. (2008). America can teach Asia a lot about science, technology, and math. Chronicle of Higher Education, 54 (20), January 25, pp. A33-34.
Bharucha, J. (2006). Squeeze a bit more from this sponge. Times Higher Education, September 8, p. 4. London: TSL Education.
John Brockman's World Question Center on edge.org:"Education as we know it does not accomplish what we believe it does", for the 2006 question: "What is Your Dangerous Idea?"
"The globalization of higher education", for the 2007 question: "What Are You Optimistic About?"
"Education as stretching the mind", for the 2008 question: "What Have You Changed Your Mind About?"
"The synchronization of brains", for the 2009 question: "What Will Change Everything?"
"The Internet promotes the synchronization of minds", for the 2010 question: "How Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?"