Page 12 - RU RWJ Medicine Magazine • Winter 2021
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A Conversation with New Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway
Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, PhD, who was most recently the provost of Northwestern University, began his tenure as the university’s 21st president on
July 1, 2020, amid unprecedented, intersecting crises: a global pandemic, and a global racial reckoning.
“I am proud that I now have the privilege and the responsibility to lead an institution that is committed to making the world better while also opening its doors to that world,” President Holloway said on his first day at Rutgers. He told the university community he will be focusing much of his initial energy on the repair and rebuilding required by COVID-19 and the fight for social justice calling us to work toward a country that lives up to the aspirations of our founding documents.
As he prepared to begin his new role, Holloway talked with Rutgers Today about his initial goal and his vision for nurturing a “beloved community” at the university.
At Rutgers, we talk a lot about community and family. What does the concept of a university community mean to you?
When I think of university communities— I refer to a university as a beloved com- munity. Some may find that a bit precious, but I absolutely don’t. A community is a complex organism and if it’s really healthy and working well, the different aspects of that community, of that family, are helping one another. They’re informing one another. They know who is doing what and they’re taking care to make sure these various tasks are being taken care of.
So, when I think about a university as a community, what I’m talking about is not just undergraduates, not just graduate and profes- sional students, not just faculty and researchers, not just administrators; I’m thinking about the people who are driving us around, who are cleaning up the spaces in which we live our lives, who are making sure that we’re well fed. Everybody is part of this community—all these people together are necessary if Rutgers is going to be smoothly operating and efficient and successful.
What were the factors that led to your decision on fall instruction?
When it came to fall instruction, I felt compelled to make the decision that I made led by one major factor—the health and safety of the community. We are seeing every day new unsettling information about the spread of COVID-19. Universities are not set up to socially isolate people. They are designed to bring people together in close proximity. When we think about housing on the New Brunswick campus alone, we know that we can only house a small portion of the population we normally would house. Right there, it made it almost impossible to say we’re going to be in person for all of instruction.
So, we need to find ways for all of our faculty to be prepared for a single type of instruction. I know as a professor trying to manage three different ways to try and run a class is almost an impossible task. So, we’re trying to be mindful of the pedagogical practice of the university. We’re trying to be mindful of the health and safety of our students, and we’re absolutely trying to mindful of the health and safety of the staff and faculty. Too many times, people leave them out of the equation. Well, we need to make sure that the staff and faculty are going to be healthy and feel safe. So all of these things together are the sources of the decision that I felt was really the only decision that I could make.
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