Meera Komarraju, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, has been appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Northridge.
Komarraju comes to CSUN with more than three decades of experience in higher education. In addition to her work as provost and vice chancellor at Southern Illinois, she has been a dean, associate dean, department chair and an undergraduate program director. She assumes her new job the first week of January 2023. She is succeeding CSUN’s current provost, Mary Beth Walker, who is retiring at the end of 2022.
“Dr. Komarraju is a highly experienced and exceptionally skilled academic leader and I am confident her leadership will facilitate a brighter and more equitable future for our entire campus community,” said CSUN President Erika D. Beck when she announced Komarraju’s appointment.
Komarraju, said she was drawn to CSUN because it was a public university with a mission of “making higher education accessible to all citizens.” She was also attracted to the university’s diversity and that it was part of the California State University system, “which is very progressive and forward looking.”
What really caught her attention, she said, was CSUN’s commitment to social justice and inclusion.
“That really stood out to me,” she said. “All universities focus on it, but some are more upfront and active than others. I really love that about CSUN. I like how it matches and resonates with my own personal values. As a first-generation college student, a first-generation immigrant and somebody who comes from a minority background, I felt a fit with the university.
“I am very passionate about higher education because it made a huge difference in my life,” Komarraju continued. “I truly believe that a college education does not just benefit the student, it also benefits the communities the students come from. I see CSUN doing that. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to serve CSUN’s students.”
Komarraju has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, philosophy and English literature from Nizam College in India; a master’s degree in psychology and a master of philosophy degree in industrial-organizational psychology from Osmania University in India. She holds a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology from Osmania University in India and a doctorate in applied social psychology from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. She taught at the undergraduate and graduate level in the Departments of Psychology and Management at Southern Illinois University. She also has taught in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore for Southern Illinois University’s Department of Management’s off-campus executive MBA program.
As an applied psychologist, Komarraju’s research interests focus on student motivation and performance, diversity and leadership, as well as work attitudes and work-family linkages in dual-career couples.
Komarraju said education was always a priority in her house growing up in India.
“I remember so clearly my father telling me and my siblings that we don’t have money or the connections with well-placed individuals who could help us,” she said. “He said, ‘the only way for you to be successful in your life is to study.’ I took that to heart.”
Komarraju said she plans to spend her first 100 days as CSUN’s provost learning about the campus and its culture.
She noted that after spending four years as provost at Southern Illinois, she is aware that there are requests that she will have to respond to immediately once she begins her job at CSUN’s provost.
“But I want to make sure to take the time to learn CSUN’s culture and get to know its people,” she said. “I am going to listen and learn, and try to meet everybody on campus. I am looking forward to getting a fuller sense of what CSUN is all about. I bring with me my own sort of energy, enthusiasm and passion, and I want to lend that to helping CSUN, its students, faculty and staff be successful in every way possible.”