‘Everything turned upside down’ – New Rutgers president assumes post in unprecedented times

The new president of Rutgers University says that he assumed his position during unprecedented times.

News 12 Staff

Jul 6, 2020, 3:19 PM

Updated 1,414 days ago

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The new president of Rutgers University says that he assumed his position during unprecedented times.
“I was building my agenda for the next few weeks and then everything turned upside down,” Jonathan Holloway says.
Holloway says that this was not the presidency that he expected when he took over as head of Rutgers. There is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen enrollment drop 3%, while also forcing students to learn remotely, as well as what he refers to as a “racial reckoning” in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Holloway also inherited a $250 million shortfall for the university.
“This is not easy for anybody, and everybody is in the same boat,” Holloway says. “Please do your civic best and wear those face masks when out in public and please fight the urge to congregate all the time.”
When it comes to housing, only 25-30% of students will be on campus to maintain social distancing. Testing and contact tracing will be put into place, although protocols have not yet been determined.
Another big topic will be sports at the university. Football is a major revenue source for Rutgers. Holloway says that more answers will be known within two weeks. He says that he is closely watching how professional sports, particularly the NBA, which starts in July, will handle the pandemic.
“If they can’t protect their players and support staff with all of their resources, I don’t know how the Big 10 or any college will be able to do so” he says.
Holloway is the first Black president in Rutgers’ 253-year history. He says that he has already made a decision on a recently controversial topic – he says that the name of the school should not be changed, even if Henry Rutgers had ties to slavery.
“Names have value that exceed someone’s existence. So, in the case of the namesake, where are we going to find names that don’t have blood money related to them?” Holloway asks.
More: Your New Jersey 'We're Open' Photos
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But Holloway says that the topic should be talked about and history should be discussed. He says that he does plan to make the diversity of staff a priority during his tenure. He added that he was the first Black dean at Yale and the first Black provost at Northwestern. He also says that at this point in history he shouldn’t be the first of his race at any job.
Holloway also says that he fully expects more students to be on campus for instruction and housing by spring. But he says that he will not force any faculty to teach on campus if they are not comfortable.
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