CSUN’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs is settling into her new home here in Los Angeles, after moving here from Southern Illinois. Although she arrived during severe rainstorms, Meera Komarraju says she wasn’t fazed: the warm welcome she received left the biggest impression.
“People [have been] reaching out and even before I came, I was getting so many emails and calls, and you know, people saying, ‘How can I help you?’ It was so touching.”
Komarraju started her new job this month. She’s already been to four of CSUN’s nine colleges and met with their deans. She took a break to talk with CSUN Today about her plans and her interests.
During her first 100 days, Komarraju will be learning all about CSUN– she plans to get out and talk with faculty, staff and students.
“[I want] to listen to what are the things that excite them about CSUN? What would they like to see in the years to come? What are the expectations of the provost’s office?”
At CSUN, the provost directs faculty and staff members in the Division of Academic Affairs, allocates funding and oversees eight academic colleges. She also directs the Tseng College, the University Library and academic support units. In this role, Komarraju serves as the chief academic officer who ensures the delivery and quality of undergraduate and graduate programs.
Komarraju started her academic career as a faculty member, teaching psychology. She has also served as a dean, associate dean, department chair, and an undergraduate program director, in addition to her work as provost and vice chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
“I feel at home in the classroom, but as an administrator, you can facilitate the success of students with broader strokes,” she said. “I’ll just give an example– like [improving] the technology in a classroom so that the delivery of instruction is enhanced.”
Komarraju has studied, lived and worked around the country and around the world. This is the first time she has lived in the western part of the United States. Regarding her personal interests, Komarraju loves movies– from all over the world.
“It’s a way for me to learn about all the cultures in the world. And if you look at movies across the world, you find universal themes.”
Komarraju says people are often surprised by her other interest: team handball which she played in college. She also played table tennis. These days, she enjoys a variety of types of exercise and says she’s eager to join CSUN’s Student Recreation Center.
Right now, Komarraju is spending time meeting more people on campus. She is reading histories of CSUN, “Suddenly a Giant, A History of California State University, Northridge” by John Broesamle, and a pictorial history of the university, given to her by Mark Stover, University Library dean.
She says she can’t wait for the students to arrive for the spring semester.
“I remember from my interview that what really touched me, was the hustle and bustle and the large number of students, [and] their diverse backgrounds that really made me feel at home,” she said. “For any faculty member or someone who’s been on the academic side of the world, any time the students show up, there’s that increased energy on campus that’s so welcome. It’s palpable.”