Rekhi Singh ’88 (M.B.A.) wants Sacramento State students to be happy.
He first became interested in the science of happiness about four years ago, eventually establishing a research center on the topic at his undergraduate alma mater in India. In his personal life, he practices gratitude daily. Before going to sleep, he thinks about the things for which he is grateful, no matter how small.
Now, the businessman, entrepreneur and Hornet alumnus is bringing that mind-set to Sacramento State, making a gift to the University that will establish the campus’s very first endowed professorship, the Rekhi Singh Endowed Professor in Happiness. Housed within the Department of Psychology, the position is aimed at promoting happiness through academic research, curriculum development, cross-campus partnerships and other activities.
Singh says he believes that learning about happiness can help students not only cope with stress, but also to succeed at Sacramento State and throughout their lives. He contends that practicing gratitude, mindfulness, forgiveness, self-compassion and more can help one choose to be happy.
“In our time, they told us, ‘Go be successful and you’ll get happy,’ but no, it’s the other way around,” he says. “Happy people are successful people, and in their workplace, the happy employee does a better job. They become a better citizen, and they’ll serve the community better.”
Funds from this endowment will support salary, release time for the selected faculty member, research activities, travel, and operating funds to support activities to promote happiness across the campus and beyond. Singh declined to pubicly announce the amount of the donation.
Those activities may include teaching courses, conducting academic research into the science of happiness, delivering lectures and workshops, and developing curriculum incorporating happiness and well-being.
“The science of happiness is a real science. And where is a better place to study happiness than at Sacramento State, a university dedicated to caring and belonging?” asks President Robert S. Nelsen. “I am so grateful to Rekhi for his generous gift, which will allow us to better understand happiness and how to spread it throughout the world.”
Singh was born in India and received his undergraduate education in engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, where he established the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness in 2017.
Knowing he wanted to attend graduate school in California, he immigrated to the United States in 1987, settling in Sacramento by chance and enrolling in Sacramento State’s masters of business administration program. Though largely unfamiliar with the campus, he said, what he knew of the program impressed him.
Once at Sacramento State, he found professors who made themselves accessible to students, supportive peers, and a program that, unlike those in India, allowed him to choose his courses. Knowing he wanted to start a business, he focused his studies on marketing.
Today, Singh is chief executive officer of R Systems, a global, publicly traded company he founded that specializes in information technology outsourcing across industries, including banking and finance, telecom and digital media, retail and e-commerce, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics. He also serves as managing director for the company’s board of directors and, along with his wife Harpreet Kaur Rekhi, as a trustee of the Rekhi Foundation for Happiness.
“Sacramento State gave me a well-rounded education into business, and I was exposed to the U.S. culture and its way of doing things,” Singh says, adding that Nelsen’s leadership of the University was a significant motivation for his gift.
“When I look back at my life, I would not be here if it was not for Sac State and the education I got there. That is something I feel very grateful about.” - Jonathan Morales