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Rutgers University elects its first African American president

Rutgers University named the first African American president in the school's history when the university's Board of Governors unanimously voted to appoint Jonathan Holloway as the 21st president.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 4:04 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 4:30 AM


Rutgers University named the first African American president in the school's history Tuesday.

The university's Board of Governors appointed Jonathan Holloway as Rutgers' 21st president following a unanimous vote on Tuesday morning.

Board of Governors Chairman Mark Angelson addressed a room of university officials following the announcement, calling Holloway 'an extraordinarily distinguished scholar' who is 'thoughtful, visionary, inclusive and decisive.'

'He leads with remarkable integrity, and is just the right person to build upon Rutgers' long tradition as an academic and research powerhouse,' said Angelson.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, also in attendance, said it was a historic day for Rutgers and 'equally importantly a historic day for New Jersey and our state's future.'

Holloway said he is excited to take on his new role as president.

'I was drawn to the opportunity at Rutgers University because of its amazing history, its foundation of excellence in teaching and its ambition to continue conducting life-changing research that improves our communities, our country and our world,' he said.

'Please know in everything that I do here I expect to be held to the same high standards to which I will hold others, and that I dare presume exist here already.'

'Mom, I got the job'

Holloway ended his address with a story from his time in graduate school 29 years ago and recounted how he called his now-deceased mother to discuss what he thought was a potential job offer from esteemed historian David Levering Lewis at Rutgers University.

'Somehow I was able to ignore the fact that I was only in my third semester of my doctoral program, and in retrospect I'm quite certain that professor Lewis wasn't offering me anything of that kind,' said Holloway. 'But as I've come to know, I'm the kind of person with whom hope always springs eternal, and wouldn't you know it ... wouldn't you know it, this time my hope paid off. Mom, I got the job,' he said.

Holloway currently serves a the provost at Northwestern University where he is also a professor of history and African American studies, according to the school's website. He earned his doctorate from Yale University in history, where he served as a dean and professor before joining Northwestern in 2017.

Holloway succeeds Robert Barchi, who has served as president of Rutgers since 2012, according to the university's website. Barchi, a neurologist, announced last summer that the 2019-2020 academic year would be his last as president. He will return to Rutgers for the next academic year as a university professor.

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