It is with great pleasure that Rutgers AAUP-AFT welcomes our new president Jonathan Holloway. Holloway, who most recently served as provost at a fellow Big Ten school, Northwestern University, will also be Rutgers’ first African American president. In the words of Board of Governors Chair Mark Angelson, “A new day is coming.”
As a renowned scholar of African American history and an experienced administrator at two of the nation’s most esteemed Research One universities, President Holloway is uniquely suited to governing the State University of New Jersey during this critical period in its history. His visionary writings on black labor intellectuals, global peace activism, race and social science, and the history of segregation and inequality bring an invaluable perspective to leading one of the nation’s most diverse universities. “Jonathan is an esteemed university leader of remarkable vision and character. His commitment to higher learning and to the next generation of scholars is beyond measure,” said Mellon Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Kathryn Hall.
As President Holloway assumes office, our university is facing profound challenges following a spring semester upended by the coronavirus pandemic and with Rutgers’ plans for the fall and beyond uncertain. The response of the Robert Barchi administration to the twin health and economic crises it faced in its final months caused those with the least to suffer the most.
Barchi chose layoffs and damaging cuts to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, while rejecting an alternative approach developed by a coalition of Rutgers’ 19 unions. The people-centered response proposed by the Coalition of Rutgers Unions, would have combined federal government relief aid with the university’s substantial financial reserves, accumulated in large part from our labor and from tuition increases, to protect students, staff, and faculty while ensuring Rutgers’ future. Sadly, the arrogant dismissal of our proposal was symptomatic of the Barchi regime’s upside-down priorities.
As our country reckons with some of its most painful truths, Rutgers is entering a new phase of its history. The values that Jonathan Holloway has expressed offer an inclusive vision for Rutgers’ future, in which students, faculty, staff, and the unions that represent them work together to fulfill the true mission of a public university: teaching, research, and service to the community. In order to do this, it is essential that we put a people-centered approach to the current crisis at the top of our agenda.
“If we aren’t prepared to acknowledge all the workers at Rutgers, for instance—if we aren’t prepared to acknowledge the people who clean the restrooms and make the food or drive us around—we are perpetuating a problem that’s as old as the institution,” argued President-Designate Holloway in a recent book talk. “And that part needs to change.” We agree wholeheartedly with President Holloway and look forward to working with him to make this a reality.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFTRutgers AAUP-AFT
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