The next time you’re at office hours, try starting a conversation with your professor about the latest American Idol reject or your favorite 50 Cent song.
For Law School students taking a class with Professor Vikramaditya Khanna, this type of exchange is commonplace. Khanna, the soft-spoken corporate and security relations law professor who considers himself a pop-culture junkie, is the University’s youngest full-time professor.
At 36, Khanna has already accomplished what many academics dream of. He and his family moved to the U.S. from India when he was 4 and then relocated to New Zealand when he was 14. After moving there, Khanna tested out of three grades, but only skipped two because his parents were uneasy about him adjusting socially with older students.
Khanna began his college career at Victoria University of Wellington at age 16, finishing with bachelor-level law and business degrees by age 21.
He then attended Harvard University, where he earned a graduate law degree at 25. After finishing at Harvard, Khanna took his first teaching position at Boston University’s School of Law, where he would stay for six years.
The University of Michigan Law School offered Khanna a full-tenure position in 2004, when he was just 32.
Khanna said he doesn’t think about his age in relation to other faculty that often and it doesn’t deter him from socializing.
Khanna said when he first began teaching at 25, many of his students were his age or older. He said he didn’t mind the experience of being the same age or younger as many students because it “helps keep me constantly plugged in and stimulated.”
Like many students, Khanna’s favorite show to watch is Law & Order. Like many teenagers, the professor criticizes MTV for not playing enough music. He said the Indiana Jones and the Blade Trilogy movies were among his favorites.
When asked who his favorite musical artists were, he said Usher and Queen, noting that they have “such sweet songs.” He added that he blasts “Another One Bites the Dust” during stressful review sessions, explaining that it’s sometimes nice to have theme music.
“It helps students chill out,” he said.