Dr. Poonam Kumar named LU associate provost, academic affairs and digital learning

Lamar University is proud to announce that Dr. Poonam Kumar has joined the university as associate provost for Academic Affairs and Digital Learning.

Kumar brings more than 22 years of experience in public higher education and digital learning as a
Poonam Kumar
Dr. Poonam Kumar
member of faculty, a researcher and administrator. 

“We’re thrilled to bring Dr. Kumar to Lamar University at this juncture when online learning is becoming the new normal,” said Brenda Nichols, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “She has been immersed in digital learning in higher education since it was conceptualized. Her knowledge and skills as well as her broad-based experience and network within the digital learning profession will be extremely beneficial to enhancing our already robust digital learning program.”

Prior to accepting the role at LU, Kumar served as the inaugural director for online learning and academic innovation at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. In this position, she provided strategic leadership for online learning for five academic colleges and led the expansion of online and hybrid programs in nursing, health sciences, social work, computer science and business and management. 

“In my professional network, I have met many people who have graduated from Lamar University’s online graduate programs and they have spoken very highly about their experience at LU,” said Kumar. “When I interviewed, I was impressed by LU’s interest in continuing to innovate to provide a diverse portfolio of programs using different delivery models.”

A firm believer in enhancing student success through excellence in teaching, Kumar established the Center for Academic Innovation to foster a culture of innovation and to provide support for departments and faculty to engage in teaching and learning innovations. At Saginaw Valley State University, Kumar also served on the Provost’s Committee for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success. Before moving into an administrative role, Kumar served Saginaw as a tenured faculty member of educational technology for 11 years.

Prior to her tenure at Saginaw Valley State University, Kumar worked for the University of Wisconsin System as a faculty member in the college of education and was one of the early adopters of online education.  Kumar is passionate about using technology and innovative educational models to increase student access to education.  She has authored more than 30 journal articles and has received several federal grants to support teaching and learning projects.  She is actively involved in various professional organizations such as the AACSB online education committee/affinity group and is a Master Quality Matters Reviewer, Higher Learning Commission reviewer for distance education programs, an Open Educational Resource Research Fellow and serves as a guest faculty for Online Learning Consortium.

“I believe this is a very exciting time to be in the digital learning space. The pandemic has transformed the higher education landscape and the demand for lifelong learning will increase significantly as people try to skill and reskill, and LU is very well positioned to be a national leader in digital learning,” said Kumar. “I am very excited about the opportunities we have to support our students and our community. I look forward to collaborating with faculty and staff to advance this important work.”

Kumar earned her doctorate in instruction and curriculum leadership from The University of Memphis, an M.B.A. from Central Michigan University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Management Development Program. She is also trained in design thinking.