Vice President for Finance and Administration Mary Alma Noonan handed over her role to Samir Datta on Monday, May 2. Noonan has been at Lawrence since August of 2020.
The Vice President for Finance and Administration oversees university finances, Human Resources, Information Technology (IT) services and other campus services such as facilities.
Datta has many years of experience in the public and private finance sector and spent almost seven years working with the state of Wisconsin’s pension fund.
Datta stated that he was interested in Lawrence in part because it’s a 175-year-old institution with a highly regarded academic program that also has a lot of challenges to face. Two of the challenges he identified were aging facilities and a projected nationwide decline in the number of prospective college students starting in 2026.
Noonan noted that her leaving is part of a larger trend in staff turnover at Lawrence, which she believes is fueled in part by stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a presidential transition.
Noonan only recently met Datta but is confident that he has the skills to handle the job.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” said Noonan. “Lawrence will be in good hands.”
Noonan added that she loved her time at Lawrence and the people she met here. Although she is not sure about her future plans, she hopes to work at a school similar to Lawrence, which she referred to as a “wonderful institution.”
Currently, Noonan is assisting Datta in the transition, including the upcoming Spring 2022 Board of Trustees meeting, and Datta is hoping that this transition will finalize after the meeting and President Carter’s inauguration on Friday, May 13. According to him, the issue of Lawrence’s deferred maintenance has come up in conversations during this transition period.
Datta is not entirely sure what his tenure will look like, since he only recently arrived at Lawrence, but discussed his broader goals for the institution. Datta said that he hopes to do what he can to provide the best experience possible for Lawrence students during a challenging time.
He emphasized that Lawrence has to focus on its students if it wants to be successful and wants to do what he can to provide students with the best experience possible.
Datta hopes that the Lawrence he leaves eventually will be a better institution than the Lawrence he arrived at.
“Hopefully, our finances are better,” said Datta. “Hopefully, the state of our facilities is better. Hopefully, students feel happier at Lawrence.”