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The Year Ahead: Advancing Our Campus in Challenging Times - From Interim Chancellor Margaret Marsh, Ph.D.

Member Announcements

Dear Members of the Rutgers University–Camden Community:

Many of you have sent me messages in recent weeks as I’ve prepared to return to the chancellor’s office. Thanks to all of you. It has been just over a decade since I last served as interim chancellor, and I’m honored to have been asked to serve the campus and university again in this role. The qualities of Rutgers–Camden that brought me here two decades ago – its outstanding faculty, bright and motivated students, committed and caring staff, and ambitious leaders – have kept me here ever since. In the face of the unprecedented challenges that 2020 has brought and will continue to bring, I have confidence that, working together, we can meet this moment.

To say that these are uncertain times may be an understatement. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the nation and the world in ways not seen since the pandemic of 1918, and the virus continues to surge across the country. Here in New Jersey, the measures taken by the state appear to have slowed the virus’s growth, but it remains a threat, and we cannot let down our guard.

Moreover, the economic toll the pandemic has taken has had a significant impact upon New Jersey, including on our state’s economy. State revenues are down and, as a result, so are appropriations to state colleges and universities, including Rutgers. In turn, the university’s revenues are affected, and the impact of budget shortfalls can be expected to be felt across the campus in the coming months. Nevertheless, I intend to explore all avenues to sustain our academic priorities and, where appropriate, plan for and develop new initiatives.

In addition, the surge of activism on behalf of racial justice, following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, has led to what Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway has referred to as a “global racial reckoning.” At this hinge moment in history, we have the obligation and opportunity to address racial injustice and inequity in our society and lay the groundwork for a just, diverse, and inclusive future.

I am confident in our ability to meet these challenges. In a few weeks, after I’ve had a chance to consult with the campus community, I will communicate my broad priorities for the upcoming year. Meanwhile, I want to provide you with information on a few areas that already are identified as top priorities.

Although I wish it were otherwise, the fall semester will not offer us a return to pre-pandemic operations. Digital platforms and remote course delivery will be the dominant forms of teaching and learning. However, not all of our operations will be remote. We will have students, faculty, and staff on campus, offer some in-person instruction, and provide a range of student-support services. This has been a difficult situation for all of you, I know, and everyone has shown remarkable resilience in adapting to these unexpected changes and developing creative ways of interacting with each other. This fall, with more activity on campus and more flexibility in course delivery, we will be as committed as ever to providing high-quality teaching and service. Within the next week or so, President Holloway will share details about the university’s plans for returning to Rutgers in the fall, and we will provide information about our plans at Rutgers–Camden shortly thereafter.

The commitment of the campus community to diversity and inclusion is not new. Today, however, we are experiencing a profound urgency to address issues of racial justice, societal inequities, and policies of inclusion. Rutgers–Camden fosters a community of diverse perspectives and mutual respect, and there are multiple ways, reflecting the mission of a public university in one of the most diverse states in the nation, for us to address these issues – on our campus, in the larger community, in the nation, and the world. Within the next few weeks, I will announce a series of initiatives designed to help us move forward on these issues, working together and learning from each other.

In research and graduate education, Rutgers–Camden is nationally recognized for its cross-disciplinary research and innovative Ph.D. programs. Beginning in July, Provost Michael Palis, the academic deans, and I will begin to work toward developing new initiatives in these areas that will address some of the defining issues of the 21st century.

Today is not only my first day as chancellor. It is also Jonathan Holloway’s first day as president of Rutgers University. As we welcome President Holloway to the university, we will provide opportunities for him to get to know us and our campus. In the coming weeks, we can look forward to having him meet our students and the outstanding researchers, dedicated teachers, and committed academic administrators and staff who have made our success possible. I know firsthand how much value Rutgers–Camden brings to the entire university and I look forward to all of us being able to share the energy and excitement we feel about our plans, hopes, and dreams for the future with our new president. Although social distancing will require these first interactions to be done remotely, we will set up numerous sessions that will introduce President Holloway to the remarkable character of our campus.

My return to the chancellor’s office has been made easier by the kindness of our former chancellor, Phoebe Haddon, as well as the generosity of campus and university leaders, and I want to thank all of them here. These challenging times notwithstanding, I am excited to be working with all of you as we move Rutgers–Camden forward. Together, we can achieve a great deal. I welcome all of you, colleagues I have known for years and others that I have not yet met, students whom I have taught, and those whom I not yet had the opportunity to get to know, to share your ideas with me at any time.

Margaret Marsh, Ph.D.
Interim Chancellor

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