About NaropaLeadershipPast PresidentsPresident Emeritus Thomas B. Coburn

President Emeritus
Thomas B. Coburn

President (2003-2009), Core Faculty


Dr. Thomas B. Coburn was president of Naropa University from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2009. Prior to assuming this post, Dr. Coburn served from 1996 to 2002 as vice president of the university and dean of academic affairs at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where he was also the Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies.

During his tenure, Dr. Coburn oversaw numerous advancements during his first three years as the school’s president, emphasizing the place of students in Naropa’s mission.

“The reason we’re in business is to educate students,” he says. “Everything we do should be filtered through the lens of those who have chosen to work with us.”

For example, during those three years, Naropa University increased institutional funds dedicated to student financial aid by 60 percent. Today, 68 percent of Naropa undergraduate students benefit from financial aid, all of which is based on student need. Also, 44 percent of Naropa’s student population is Pell Grant–eligible, compared to a national average in private institutions of 28 percent.

“What this demonstrates,” says Coburn, “is that Naropa is a national leader in providing opportunity for everyone, regardless of income, to obtain a college education. This commitment to providing access actually models the egalitarian outcome of contemplative education: putting oneself in service to others.”

Further advancements during Dr. Coburn’s tenure as president include providing university housing for all first-time first-year student students through a new student residence hall; enhancing the contemplative education experience outside the classroom as well as within; introducing new levels of coherence to the BA core curriculum; establishing the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education; increasing the university’s resources dedicated to diversity education; revising Naropa’s mission statement; undertaking a strategic planning process; and further developing the faculty governance system.

Dr. Coburn holds a BA in religious studies from Princeton University and a MTS and PhD in comparative religion from Harvard University. He is a well-known scholar of the great goddess tradition in Hinduism. He has lectured broadly in the United States and India, and is a widely published author specializing in comparative and Asian religion.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.