April 20, 2009

Naropa’s New President: Stuart Lord.

Update: Stuart Lord has moved in! Here’s a great, worthwhile article via The Colorado Daily. Excerpt: “Lord, who supervised the fundraising of $30 million for the Tucker Foundation while at Dartmouth, said “re-introducing” Naropa to alumni and the Boulder community is also a part of his mission.”

Since Naropa University will likely be host to our Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis” this Fall, we’ll be happy to help the cause, both locally and nationally, of reintroducing Naropa University’s unique vision, mission and execution of said mission to the masses! – WL.

“We need to inform the community about the jewel that is here,” he said.

I was invited to a press conference, just this morning, announcing Naropa University‘s decision on their new president.

I asked a few questions of Dr. Stuart Lord, who will in three months assume responsibilities as Naropa’s fifth President; asked a question of Dr. Thomas Coburn (and was encouraged by his charming wife, Leigh, to settle down and start a family); drank a bunch of (fair-trade, organic) Naropa coffee; and talked with a number of trustees (including Marty Janowitz, one of my Shambhala Buddhist community elders), faculty (including a giddy Dr. Judith Simmer Brown) and staff.

All of whom were giddy. Why?

Via Colorado Daily:

— The associate provost of Dartmouth College will become the first black president of Boulder’s Naropa University on July 1.

Stuart C. Lord, a 49-year-old Christian minister, will succeed Thomas Colburn as the head of the “Buddhist-inspired” university, Naropa officials announced Wednesday…for the rest, go to Colo Daily.

Dr. Lord is charistmatic. Relaxed. Confident. As befitting his ministerial status, he’s a powerful speaker. While we have yet to see if Dr. Lord will lead Naropa into the future with integrity, skill, fundraising prowess and that visceral electricity Naropa’s 30-year lineage has always emitted…I was touched and impressed at the joy expressed everyone I ran into on campus. The second finalist candidate, who was not selected, was also strong, experienced, kind and thoughtful—overall the process has I think reflected well on Naropa’s maturity, vision and boldness.

One note: Dr. Stuart Lord is African-American, which is an understandable source of pride for Naropa. That said, if I had a buck for the number of times I heard the word ‘diversity‘ sallied forth this morning, I’d have enough for lunch at The Kitchen. I look forward to seeing Naropa walk its diversity talk by providing more and more scholarships for would-be students hailing from poor, disadvantaged, diverse backgrounds. Without that, it seems to me that Naropa will have a hard time attracting diversity to its Boulder campus.

Update: I received the following from a senior Naropa community member, re: diversity:

For the past three years Naropa’s student body has held steady at 11-12% students of color.  This is based on self-reports by Asian-American, Native American, African-American, and Hispanic students and places us about where other small private colleges are.  The actual numbers are probably higher.

On one measure of diversity, Naropa is actually a national leader, namely, on economic/class diversity.  The standard measure here is the percentage of the student body that is eligible for federal Pell Grants, which are based on family income that is one and a half-times the poverty level.  The national average, for all institutions, is about 20%.  The Naropa student body is more than double that—44% Pell Grant eligible—and has been for several years.  Moreover, all of Naropa’s scholarship dollars (with the exception of one graduate grant) are based on student need.  We have not fallen into the trap of “buying” students by offering “merit scholarships” in excess of student need.

I am enormously proud of both the Pell Grant and need-based only policy. They reflect our deep commitment to providing inclusive student access to higher education.  This is the major challenge that our country’s educational system faces in the years just ahead.

In other words, it is not just Naropa’s contemplative education that distinguishes us.  It is also our deep commitment to drawing out the moral dimension that is an integral part of this kind of education.

With all best wishes. ~ X.

In keeping with Marty, Dr. Coburn and Dr. Lord’s bold words about wanting to connect Naropa further with the greater Boulder community, I offered that Dr. Lord, Dr. Coburn, Dr. John Cobb and Barbara Dilley, and any other Naropa leaders could sit for a 20-minute panel at our next talk show, with 800 plus in attendance—and actually meet a good portion of said community, talk about Naropa’s heritage, present and plans. If they accept, the video will be available for all to see on elephantjournal.com, Huffington Post, vimeo and naropa.edu, most likely. My invitation was met with polite consideration.

I walked out of the conference with Crystal Gray, Boulder’s deputy mayor, and we talked over my potential run for City Council, walking past flowering trees and blooming tulips on a beautiful, moist Spring day—then attended my first yoga class, at Richard Freeman‘s Yoga Workshop, since getting hit by a car on my bike. Now back to selling ads so this little elephant can keep a’publishing.

Info below:

Excerpt, via Boulder County Business Report:

Naropa names Lord fifth president
BOULDER – Naropa University today introduced Stuart C. Lord, who will take over as the university’s fifth president in July.

Lord currently is the associate provost at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and will be replacing Thomas B. Coburn who served six years as the Boulder-based university’s president.

A search team made up of trustee, faculty, student and staff representatives worked closely with search consultancy Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to select Lord.

Board of trustees
chairman Martin Janowitz announced the appointment to Naropa students, staff, faculty and alumni April 8.

“Naropa University is delighted to have selected a new president who is superbly matched and equipped to serve both the university’s current and future needs,” Janowitz said in a prepared statement. “The enthusiasm expressed from all quarters at today’s event indicates the positive spirit across our university community about the appointment of Dr. Stuart C. Lord.”

Lord is an active member at the Karme Choling Shambhala Meditation Center in Barnet, Vt. Lord graduated from...for the rest of BCBR’s report, click here.

Here’s my report, from a week or two ago, on what I felt Naropa needed in selecting its next President. I’m flattered to hear that it gained some traction with Marty and others, and hope it was helpful in some small way.

Dr. Lord’s speech:

Remarks by Stuart C. Lord, President-Elect
Naropa University
April 8, 2009

Thank you, Marty; thank you, Tom; and thank you, Lynne. I am deeply honored by the
confidence the trustees have placed in me. I promise today that I will use my mind, heart and
soul, fueled by creativity, passion and imagination, to lead Naropa University and the Naropa
community into an exciting and sustainable future...for the rest, click here.

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