Breaking: Naropa University President Dr. Stuart Lord steps down. Acting President named.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 6, 2011
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Dr. Stuart Lord of Naropa University to step down as President of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. New Acting President named.

Updates: Just got off phone with Lisa Trank over at Naropa University. She said all is amicable, lots of emotions in the air on campus, but Dr. Lord may stay on and teach, will continue to be involved in transition. Dr. Cobb has a great deal of institutional knowledge; they’re lucky and grateful he’s available. He’s 68, now. His health is good, apparently (his cancer is in remission). The search will happen over next six months or year, sounds like, timing unknown. I’m now on a call with Board member Chuck Lief, a long time student of Trungpa Rinpoche, Naropa’s founder.

~ Original report follows ~

Let’s all join in support of Naropa University in this time of transition.

Our best wishes to all concerned, and to Naropa as a whole most of all. ~ed.

Naropa University, in green-minded, progressive, outdoorsy Boulder, Colorado, is an idyllic, alternative small school. Founded only 30 years ago, it’s still forming, still young—and yet its roots go back not only to the Beat poets that founded its excellent writing school, but all the way back to Nalanda University, the Harvard or Oxford of ancient India. It’s a vibrant, artistic, genuine and vibrant community to be a part of, and its story is still being created today by its students, staff, faculty…and Presidents.


We’ll have comments and interview re Dr. Lord’s too-soon departure and Dr. Cobb’s riding-in-on-a-white-horse (temporary) resumption of duties first thing in the morning.

For now, let’s just say that Naropa University is a treasure close to our hearts, its potential for creating constructive, innovative, powerful women and men is immense, and Dr. Lord was always a gentleman, a leader, a gracious servant to the vision in our experience—and, on a personal note, he went out of the way to be helpful and supportive of elephant journal.

I know Dr. Cobb well, did a feature interview with him on What is Contemplative Education? for (then elephant magazine). I also extensively interviewed his successor, Dr. Thomas Coburn. I’m sorry to miss the chance to connect with Dr. Lord, more.

Dr. Lord led Naropa through some serious challenges. And unexpected ones.

Something I wrote up on Dr. Lord when he took the reins.

Something I wrote up before that on what, then, Naropa might look for in a new President (with videos).



Dr. Stuart C. Lord Steps Down as President of Naropa University
Former Naropa President John Whitehouse Cobb named as Acting President


BOULDER, Colo. (October 5, 2011)—Naropa University announces that Dr. Stuart C. Lord will be departing from his role as President of the university, commencing October 16, 2011 with the transition to be finalized by December 31, 2011. In a statement from the Naropa Board of Trustees, “the University and Dr. Lord have arrived at a mutually agreed upon arrangement, with the leadership transition commencing next week.” The Board of Trustees has appointed John Whitehouse Cobb, former President of Naropa University from 1993-2003, to work with Exiting President Lord and serve as Acting President during the transition and while a national search is conducted. Mr. Cobb will begin his interim service on October 17, 2011.

Dr. Stuart C. Lord, a nationally recognized expert in service learning, multicultural and spiritual education, leadership and ethics, became Naropa’s fifth president on July 1, 2009. As president of Naropa University, Dr. Lord successfully instituted a balanced budget initiative, led the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation process, as well as the administrative and academic reorganization that is aligning the University with its long term strategic plans.

“We thank Dr. Lord for his dedicated service to the Naropa University community over the last two years,” stated Charles Lief, Chair of the Naropa Board of Trustees. “During his leadership, he fostered the growth and advancement of our community. We offer our gratitude for his service and wish him success.”

John Whitehouse Cobb graduated from Harvard College in 1966 and Columbia Law School in 1969. He worked as a VISTA lawyer with Colorado Rural Legal Services, primarily with indigent clients and migrant farm workers. He continued to work in the public sector for Navajo Legal Services in New Mexico and Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Bangor, ME, from 1980–83. He served as Director of Colorado Coalition of Legal Services Programs and Western Regional Training Center in Denver from 1980–83 and then was in private practice in Boulder for ten years.

John was appointed president of Naropa University in 1993 and served until 2003. He also served on Naropa’s Board of Trustees since 1985. He designed and taught a course in leadership in Naropa’s Environmental Leadership Program, and also taught “Freedom is Just Another Word: The Evolution of the Bill of Rights” at Naropa. He is a prolific poet in his spare time. Cobb is the author of Footnotes to the Inexplicable: A Memoir in Verse. Since leaving the presidency, Bayard and John have been actively involved in the establishment of the Peace Studies degree at Naropa and their support led the Board of Trustees to create the Bayard and John Cobb Annual Peace Lecture.


Naropa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education. This approach to learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students know themselves more deeply and engage constructively with others. The university comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies.



Bonus videos re: Naropa University.

Naropa’s founder, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche:


Naropa’s first tier Summer Writing Program:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “Breaking: Naropa University President Dr. Stuart Lord steps down. Acting President named.”

  1. JinpaG says:

    Waylon, thank you for your sensitive, open-hearted, authentic approach in capturing this news and presenting it to
    your reading public. Your opening comments remind us to keep Naropa's well-being at the center, and to regard
    all involved with a sense of basic goodness. Warmly, Gabrielle

  2. Linda Lewis says:

    But why the seemingly abrupt switcheroo.?
    For whatever reason, I am grateful John Cobb is willing and so able to take the helm.
    Mama Linda

  3. Jasper says:

    Ok so he is leaving, why? "Sensitive, open-heated, authentic?" Where was all that? This piece lacks substance. Why is he leaving?

  4. elephantjournal says:

    As I said in the intro (maybe you didn't read that far?) this was breaking news—we beat the Daily Camera by a good hour last night—and everyone was in bed. We'll find out more today, and hopefully please your lordship.

    Yours in open-heatedness,


  5. Alyosha says:

    Seems very odd. Leaving in the middle of a semester on very short notice. And the statement by the Board: "The University and Dr. Lord have arrived at a mutually agreed upon arrangement" is startlingly cold.

    There is something to this story that I expect is not positive for either Dr. Lord or Naropa.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I heard from a student that the board forced him out.