Datta Provost

Datta is New Interim Provost

Rekha Datta, Ph.D., a Professor of political science, was appointed Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs on Aug. 1. 

In this new temporary role, Datta will work closely with President Leahy to provide leadership in planning, developing, implementing, and assessing the academic activities of the University and its Strategic Plan. 

While she serves as provost for this academic year, a new search for a permanent provost will be conducted in the meanwhile. 

“This is my 26th year of service at Monmouth University. I am grateful to Dr. Leahy and to the university community for the opportunity to serve as the university’s Interim Provost for this academic year,” said Datta. “The opportunity to work with students, staff, administrators, and with my faculty colleagues to advance the academic mission of the university is energizing, exciting, and above all, humbling.”

She continued, “Since I took office on August 1, as Interim Provost, I have enjoyed working with faculty and the university community on the pragmatic aspects of my role, ensuring service to students and faculty, shared governance, personnel management, and empowering departments and schools.” Datta said that she welcomes the opportunity to work closely with students in order to advance their academic success at the university. 

“As the university’s chief academic officer, this year, I pledge to promote our academic vision of quality instruction, rigor, scholarship, and student engagement. My role is to create an environment where students will work hard, respect the opportunity for higher learning, be critical thinkers, good writers, debaters, and engaged citizens,” she said.

“Toward that end, I envision myself working with students, university administration, chairs, and all faculty to ensure that we offer our students a first-class education.”

Datta addressed the challenges that the University faces, and how she intends to work to resolve them. “Our university, like others, have faced challenges before, but we also have worked collectively and found solutions, “she said.”

She continued, “The value of higher education is not diminished by these challenges. It energizes us as educators to underscore the importance of expanding the minds and skills of our students who, we are confident, succeed as global citizens with a Monmouth education. I look forward to working with students and colleagues to help strengthen academics and the value of a Monmouth education.”

“Among the foremost challenges we face as a university is the rising cost of higher education…about two thirds of college graduates have student loans, averaging to a debt of about $34,000. In this era of rising costs of higher education, high tuition, and student debt, we have a responsibility to be diligent and ensure a high quality of education with administrative efficiency,” she said. “With over 90 percent tuition dependency, we face unsustainable tuition increases on students and families struggling with record levels of student debt. We need sustainable administrative structures that offer high levels of service to students and streamline the academic enterprise.”

“Professor Datta understands the real challenges Monmouth University faces and is the right person to guide the institution in a new direction,” said Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology and an Associate Professor of political science.  “She prioritizes academic quality and always puts the interests of students first.”

Esther Wellman, a senior political science student, said, “Dr. Datta has had a positive impact on my experience here at MU. She is one of the most caring professors I have encountered here at MU. She truly cares about her students’ success and makes herself available to help them anyway she can.”

“She is incredible bright, and I feel I have been able to grow substantially by participating in her classes, and by working one on one with her this summer as part of the Summer Scholars program,” she said.

“Dr. Datta made sure to help me navigate the research process and has encouraged me to put my best work forward. I look forward to continuing working with her and learning from her. I have no doubt she will make a positive impact in her new position.” 

Chyna Walker, a sophomore political science student, echoed these remarks. She said, “Dr. Datta is an amazing person to be around. She always goes out her way to provide opportunities for her students, whether that’s in or out of the classroom. As the club advisor for SAGE, she constantly provides encouragement, guidance, and new ideas.”

“I love working with Dr. Datta, as she made me feel very secure as a first-year student who wasn’t quite sure what path I would take,” said Walker. “Overall, Dr. Datta is a great professor and advisor, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with her for the next three years.” 

Datta joined the University faculty in 1994, and she was promoted to full professor in 2008. In addition to her role as a faculty member, she has held many administrative positions. From 2000 to 2010, she served as Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology. She was also the founding Director of the Global Understanding Project, an integral part of the Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University. She served as interim Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning from 2014 to 2015, and interim Vice Provost for Global Education from 2015 to 2016. From 2017 to 2018, she was a United States Senior Fulbright Scholar award recipient for research and teaching in India. She currently holds the Freed Endowed Chair in Social Sciences.

Datta has served as a first-year advisor and on numerous University committees including Faculty Council, the Academic Standards and Review Committee, the University Technology Committee, the Undergraduate Studies Committee, the Presidential Search Committee, the General Education Reform Taskforce, the Middle States Self Study, the Strategic Planning Writing Committee, the School Personnel Committee, among others. She was also the principal architect behind the concept paper to establish the Monmouth University Polling Institute.,

Through the Institute for Global Understanding, Datta facilitated partnerships with the United Nations-DPI, the United Nations Academic Impact, and Project BAM, a mentorship program with Asbury Park High School in New Jersey. She serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties, and was formerly on the county board of the American Association for University Women as the public policy chair. In 2013, she founded Women and Girls’ Education International, a New Jersey-based not-for-profit organization providing educational support for marginalized women and girls.

Datta has authored three scholarly books, numerous journal articles, and co-edited one collection of research monographs. Her work has appeared in more than 10 books in political science. Her work received national recognition in 2011 with the Outstanding Leader in Experiential Learning award from the National Society for Experiential Learning. She received the Global Visionary Award in 2012 and the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003 from Monmouth University. 

In 2004, she received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Jersey Shore chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice. From 2005 to 2006, she served as a member of the Higher Education Transition Team for the governor of New Jersey. She also served on the Committee on the Status of Representation and Diversity of the International Studies Association and is an affiliated faculty of the South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University