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Tara Natarajan named Krebs Provost, Dean of Faculty, Vice President for Academic Affairs

Portrait of Tara Natarajan
March 20, 2023
Linda Blaser

Tara Natarajan, PhD, has been named Lake Forest College Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, and Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective June 2023. She was selected from a large competitive field including four finalists who visited campus and met with students, faculty, and staff in early 2023.

Currently, Natarajan is Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Economics at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, a position she has held since February 2022. Prior to Earlham, she was Dean of Faculty at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont where she spent more than 20 years on the faculty.

As Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Natarajan will join President Jill M. Baren’s senior leadership team to guide and further enhance the College’s academic programs. She will oversee activities and programs which support and enrich well-rounded students who are fully prepared to thrive in an ever-changing world. Natarajan’s leadership also will enhance ongoing efforts to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion across campus.

“I am confident that Tara will provide vision and strategic leadership to the College during a very exciting time of growth and transition,” President Baren said. “As the College embarks on a new strategic framework for the next chapter of our history, Tara will be a critical thought leader and partner to me and to the other members of the senior leadership team. She is an outstanding listener, with a proven track record of strong collaboration, and she will inspire faculty, staff, and students around a common set of academic priorities.”

Given her rich experience as an academic administrator, Natarajan believes that “immersing students in the liberal arts means teaching them to think critically, communicate clearly, analyze and solve complex problems, value each other, understand our interconnectedness as global citizens, and be prepared to learn continuously so they can work with others and on their own to meet the challenges of the future,” she said.

Natarajan brings to Lake Forest College an extensive background as an academic administrator and campus leader. In her role as Provost at Earlham College, Natarajan led a collaborative student-centered approach that focused on student success, retention, and persistence as a shared strategic priority. She actively supported the complete launch and integration of the college’s experiential learning program and new academic programming. Along with a focus on operations, she led the campus process of accreditation and assessment through the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. At Earlham College, she also continued her long standing and successful support of faculty scholarship, creative work, and engaged research. 

At Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, Natarajan rose progressively from assistant professor of economics in 2001 to associate professor in 2007, and full professor in 2016. She chaired the Department of Economics and then became Dean of the Faculty in 2019. In that role, she contributed substantially to interdisciplinarity in the liberal arts. She also led faculty development efforts and an assessment of the core curriculum. A testament to her operational and leadership abilities, Natarajan led the entire charge of academic planning during COVID while simultaneously providing extensive work in governance, curricular review, and strategic planning.

“As someone serving in higher education during challenging times, I have led the work in building new programs that are both responsive to market demand and anchored in addressing broader societal concerns,” she said. These skills are essential to the vitality of liberal arts colleges and will be critical to the success of her role at Lake Forest College.

As an academic, Natarajan is broadly trained in social and evolutionary economics with expertise in international development and poverty based in a distinctly global systems perspective. Natarajan earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Sophia College and University of Bombay, respectively in Bombay, India. She completed her PhD in economics at University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

She is author and co-author of numerous economics research papers, peer reviewed journal articles, and has co-edited a published volume in institutional economics. She has presented several academic papers, edited a special issue of a journal, and organized panels at many economics conferences.

Natarajan succeeds Davis Schneiderman, who has served as Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty, since 2018. Schneiderman, who is a Professor of English, will continue as faculty at Lake Forest College, in addition to starting his new role as Executive Director of the Krebs Center for the Humanities. 

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