Tanuja Singh will step into provost role this summer


Photo credit: Rose Wagner

Emma Ruby

For three years, the Loyola community has been without a permanent provost.

The position of University President Tania Tetlow’s second in command has been temporarily filled by three different people in the last three years, but has never officially been filled, leaving a missing puzzle piece in the leadership on campus.

Until now.

Starting July 1, Tanuja Singh will join campus as the official University Provost.

Singh has spent the last 11 years serving as dean of the Greehey School of Business at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. But Singh’s career wasn’t always heading toward administration.

Originally captivated by the sciences, Singh received a masters in physics while studying at Allahabad University in India. But while she loved studying particles, she said she soon missed working with people.

“I loved the logic of physics, but I was always attracted to human interactions,” Singh said.

So Singh decided to reroute, and attended Millsaps College in Mississippi for her MBA and Southern Illinois University for a doctorate in marketing.

It was at Millsaps that she fell in love with teaching.

After finishing her doctorate, Singh moved to San Antonio where she began working as the business dean at St. Mary’s University

But though she had established her life in San Antonio, Singh said after 11 years at St. Mary’s she was ready to begin looking for her next step. As she searched, she said she was motivated more by personal desires than career ambition.

“I was looking at possible career options, but also where do my values line up?” Singh said. “Where do we address community, where do we address students?”

She said she found the answer to those questions at Loyola.

Singh was nominated for Loyola’s provost search, an ongoing process to fill the position that has been held by temporary administrators for the last three years. Singh said she immediately connected with Loyola’s vision for students, higher education and community.

The word community is one Singh emphasized often when discussing her vision for the role of provost. And a strong community is something she said she immediately noticed when she walked onto Loyola’s campus.

“I saw students engaged not just in class but in community,” Singh said. “People were so personable. I saw faculty talking to students… something in many situations schools need to do more of.”

Singh said that understanding a community is an imperative first step in taking on a leadership position, and it’s something she plans to focus on when she comes to Loyola.

Singh said part of what drew her to Loyola was the university’s unique Jesuit identity. She said the Jesuit values that run through campus act as a foundation for the vision she hopes to bring to the university.

“I want to ask how do our students serve? How do we build on that very important idea of building the whole person while serving?” Singh said.

Singh’s sharp eye for the future is something David Sommer, faculty member at the Greehey School of Business at St. Mary’s University, says Loyola will undoubtedly benefit from.

“She is a visionary leader with a transparent and inclusive approach,” Sommer said. “She seeks input from others, works to achieve consensus, and then makes decisions.”

Coming to Loyola offers the opportunity to explore the intersections of communities as well, according to Singh. While provost, Singh said she will make academic decisions that positively impact the student and faculty communities she serves.

There is also potential, in serving the greater New Orleans community in addition to the university, Singh said. She said she wants to explore how Loyola can act as a resource for the city, as well as for its students.

In a statement announcing Singh’s hiring to the student body, Tetlow remarked on Singh’s broad perspective.

“As we face the future, Dr. Singh brings to our campus a creative ability to see where universities are headed and the knowledge and skills to get there, as well as a global outlook, innovative spirit, and incredible warmth,” Tetlow said.

But Singh isn’t all work and no play. She classifies herself as the “outdoorsy” type, with a love for hiking and running. In fact, she has completed two marathons, although she admitted she “barely finished.”

“This isn’t false modesty, I’m not good at it,” Singh said.

She also has a love for Scandinavian crime fiction, which she calls her “beach reading.”

And when it comes to New Orleans, she said she’s most excited to visit Jazz Fest as well as learn about the arts and culture of the city. And of course, she wants to enjoy some Cajun cuisine.

According to Sommer, Singh’s presence on campus is not something Loyola should take for granted.

“Loyola can look forward to welcoming someone with an incredible work ethic who focuses everything on achievement of mission,” Sommer said. “They can also look forward to welcoming someone who is a genuine pleasure to interact with — friendly, open, warm and energetic.”

Although she isn’t joining campus until July 2020, Singh said she is enthusiastic about the opportunities to come when she joins Loyola’s administration.

“I am really looking forward to working with the faculty, deans and leadership,” Singh said. “Loyola has such terrific potential and identity, I want to move to the next level.”