Samir Datta will join Lawrence University later this spring as the new vice president for finance and administration.
He comes to Lawrence from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB), where he has served as director of financial planning and analysis for the past seven years, leading a team strategizing short- and long-term financial planning for the state’s pension fund.
Datta said he’s approached that work with a mission-driven outlook, looking to maximize the investment return for state employees who depend on the pension fund for their retirement. He wants to bring that same mission-focused mentality to Lawrence, stewarding the university’s finances in a way that will allow it to thrive and to serve students long into the future.
“With the skills I’ve developed over the years working in both the public and private sectors—most recently in the public space—I think I’m in a position to help drive the mission of the university going forward,” Datta said.
He praised Lawrence’s past financial stewardship, including the recent growth in its endowment, and said that’s something he wants to build on as he moves into higher education for the first time in his career.
“I wasn’t specifically looking to the world of higher education, but once I started thinking about it, this seems like the right next step for me in terms of the mission-driven work I want to do,” Datta said. “I’ve heard a lot about Lawrence; I knew a lot about the music conservatory, but once I started researching the whole liberal arts curriculum, I knew this was a very, very attractive option for me.”
President Laurie Carter said Datta’s experience with SWIB as well as his earlier financial work in the private sector will bolster Lawrence’s efforts to build momentum going forward.
“Samir’s extensive experience is impressive and what we need as we position ourselves to thrive sustainably into the future,” she said.
“What was prominent as well was how he derived a sense of purpose from mission-driven work during his time at SWIB,” Carter added. “This purposeful work for a mission, as we know, is why we do what we do. He has a sincere appreciation for higher education and the liberal arts in particular for its broad-based learning focus.”
Datta has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Lucknow University in Lucknow, India; a master’s in finance from Mumbai University in Mumbai, India; and an MBA in finance from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He also is a CFA chartholder. Prior to joining the state’s Investment Board in 2015, he gained extensive experience working in finance for companies such as CUNA Mutual Group, Target Corporation, and Capital One.
He and his wife, Usha, have two daughters, one a junior at Duke University and the other a junior in high school. Outside of work, he said he enjoys travel, photography, and volunteering.