For the last 12 years, served as the Director of two centers of the University of New Mexico involved in unique international and interdisciplinary initiatives: from July 1, 1996 to June 30, 2000 as Director of the Center for Advanced Studies and since July 1, 2000 as Director of the Consortium of the Americas for Interdisciplinary Science.
The Center for Advanced Studies is a state-funded center of excellence at the University of New Mexico which resides outside the department structure and has 19 members. It was founded by Professor Marlan Scully and later continued as a grouping of Optics and Condensed Matter theorists in the Department of Physics. In 1996-2000, the period of Kenkre's tenure as Director, the Center enhanced its international standing, increased its external funding, introduced a new educational element through outreach to local schools, and was granted the present interdepartmental status. Innovative means and initiatives were employed: between 4 and 6 scientific workshops were arranged yearly at UNM with international attendance, an external panel of 4 distinguished scientists was established to advise the Director, 5 memoranda of understanding were signed by the Center with Denmark’s Institute for Mathematical Modeling, Moscow’s Fremkin Institute, Australia’s University of Queensland, Warsaw’s Academy of Sciences, and India’s University of Pune, and small amounts of carefully chosen seed funding were aggressively used to attract considerably larger funding from external sources. One result of the activities was an outstanding evaluation from an external visiting board of distinguished scientists from the University of California, the University of Maryland, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose report stated that “...The Center for Advanced Studies has been held up by all segments of the UNM community as an excellent example of what a center can do beyond the usual departmental structure. It is an exciting and well-functioning unit that bridges many disciplines, provides opportunities for interdisciplinary efforts and encourages outreach to the world scientific community...We commend the Center for its activities and encourage it to continue its excellent work.” The other direct result was the recognition of the Center’s cross-departmental value to the University by the upper administration, and the reestablishment of the Center, before the end of Kenkre’s tenure as Director, as a unit bridging 5 science departments: Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics and Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, and Earth and Planetary Sciences.
The Consortium of the Americas for Interdisciplinary Science began as an activity initiated at Kenkre's suggestion by the University of New Mexico with the support of its Office of the Associate Provost for Research to involve Latin American institutions of scientific research and higher learning in collaborations with the University and with the National Laboratories in New Mexico. Within the last years, the Consortium concept has won the substantial support of the Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Sandia National Laboratories, and about two dozen centers of research and higher learning in Latin America. The following extract from an open letter by Nasir Ahmed, who was then UNM’s Associate Provost for Research, describes the recent achievements of the Consortium.
...The idea of starting the Consortium was proposed to me by Prof. Kenkre about 3 years ago. Realizing that the concept of involving Latin American scientists in state-of-the-art collaborations with our University, taking advantage of the National Laboratories in New Mexico and of the cultural background of our state, was fully in keeping with our University's goals of being influential in Latin America, I provided Prof. Kenkre some financial assistance for visits and exchanges to explore the idea.
Since the above comments were written down (in 2003), the Consortium has made impressive further strides. It has received a great deal of financial support and recognition from the International Division of the NSF including a rare 'creativity extension' for exceptional performance. The Consortium has, as its stated aims, “(i) to attract to one place, the UNM campus, through periodic visits, the excellent talent that exists in the participating institutions in the areas of physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and allied sciences, (ii) to provide facilities for the visitors to conduct research in a stimulating atmosphere and to profit intellectually from one another from research and educational efforts, and (iii) to encourage investigations in four specific directions which are timely and of crucial importance to advances in science and technology: mathematical biology/ecology, computationally complex systems, nanoscience, and novel materials.”