EDITORIAL: Holloway hire could strengthen Rutgers

New President's record bodes well for U., but questions linger

For the first time in its 253-year history, Rutgers University will have a Black President. 

Current University President Robert L. Barchi is slated to exit his current position on July 1, at which point Jonathan Holloway — an esteemed academic with previous tenures at Northwestern University and Yale College — will take the reigns. 

While other press organizations will focus on the openness to diversity the University has displayed, which is certainly a welcome sign as Rutgers pushes toward the future, Holloway earned this position through his merit, and it cannot be spun as anything other than a good hire by the school.

Holloway most recently served as Northwestern University’s provost, according to NBC.

Northwestern has nothing but acclaim for Holloway, which is evident upon looking at the school’s article regarding his departure.

“At Northwestern, Holloway has developed and overseen the University’s educational policies and academic priorities. During his tenure, he has hired several deans to the University’s academic leadership team and spearheaded several important initiatives, including the Faculty Pathways Initiative and the Undergraduate Student Lifecycle program, with a goal of making sure all students can thrive at Northwestern, including first-generation, low-income and underrepresented minority students,” according to the article. 

Considering Rutgers’ struggles with diversity, students can be hopeful that a university president with the track record of Holloway will help improve the school’s inclusiveness and commitment to underrepresented and low income students. As a public school in a diverse state, aiding the students who need it most should be a priority.

Northwestern University is also a Big Ten Conference school, making Holloway's experience valuable to our University. With Rutgers recently joining, having somebody with prior dealings with the conference will help assure that the transition between presidencies is seamless.

The new president’s background in the humanities — specifically history — also sets him apart from other academics and from the past administration.

“An accomplished author and scholar, Jonathan has served as a professor of history and African American studies, specializing in post-emancipation U.S. history with a focus on social and intellectual history,” according to the article. 

Rutgers has made a point to invest heavily in its research, which is mutually beneficial to the University and the general public. That being said, the humanities are often an overlooked part of the broader higher education picture, and having a scholar who emerged from one of those fields will aid the school in ensuring a multidisciplinary vision of the road ahead.

Another indication that this hiring will be beneficial for the University in the long run is the endorsement of Holloway from the American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), one of the largest unions that operates at the University.

“Dr. Holloway has studied and written about many of the ideals for which the union has fought, including equity and diversity. Moreover, his scholarly career reflects the Board of Governors' recognition of the importance of serious academic research,” according to the AAUP-AFT in a press release. 

“We are glad the University is beginning to prioritize many of the issues on which the union has long been advocating. We welcome Dr. Holloway to Rutgers and look forward to a long and productive relationship making Rutgers the finest public university in the world.”

Considering the recent difficulties that administration has endured regarding union relations, including the near-strike back in the spring of 2019 and the ongoing CourseAtlas dispute, a president that focuses on union relations could be of great aid to the University at this current tumultuous juncture. 

Holloway has not been without his faults. 

“Dr. Holloway was at the center of a storm of student protests that were set off by an email in 2015 from a faculty member who suggested that students should be allowed to wear whatever Halloween costumes they wanted, regardless of whether they offended someone. Many students considered the email to be culturally offensive, and the controversy sparked debate about the university’s history and the way it has dealt with race,“ according to The New York Times. 

”Dr. Holloway, who became the first Black dean of Yale in 2014, embraced some student demands, like calling for a more diverse faculty. But he was also criticized by some students who said he should have worked harder to address concerns about race on campus.”

Holloway has an opportunity to put that controversial incident behind him. With Rutgers being a school consisting of a wide array of students, Holloway has plenty of ways to make his presidency a constructive and innovative one. By working with important faculty, professors and staff and employing his wide-ranging experience, Holloway must capitalize on this chance to re-energize the State University of New Jersey.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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