University President Jonathan Holloway was formally inaugurated on Friday as the 21st president of Rutgers after 16 months of being in office.
The University community celebrated his inauguration over two days and held events such as a street festival and a virtual academic panel on the importance of public service. The inauguration ceremony itself was held at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus and was livestreamed for gatherings on each campus.
The ceremony started off with the Scarlet Knights Jazz Trombone Ensemble and Rutgers Brass Quintet playing opening music and the University’s alma mater “On the Banks of the Old Raritan” respectively. Mark Angelson, chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors, gave opening remarks and welcomed members of the audience.
Rev. Micah McCreary, president of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Rabbi Esther Reed, interim executive director of Rutgers Hillel, Imam Kaiser Aslam, Muslim chaplain of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers and Dipal Pandya, Hindu chaplain of the University each spoke to offer their support to Holloway on behalf of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu communities at Rutgers.
Tilak Lal, chair of the Rutgers Board of Trustees, spoke next on Holloway’s accomplishments and qualities that he said have contributed to Holloway’s success thus far as president of the University.
“Those of you who are as fortunate as I am to know (Holloway), and those of you who have worked with him, know him to be resilient, decisive and singularly focused on one thing — our students,” Lal said. “In the president’s short time here, he has taken this university from the depths of the pandemic through the bold and decisive steps that were needed to reclaim Rutgers as an in-person place of learning for our students.”
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) gave remarks on Holloway taking charge during a challenging time. He said Holloway has demonstrated the qualities needed by the University throughout and collaborated with him for the benefit of Rutgers and New Jersey.
“This has been a time that has called for steady leadership, a focus on science and facts, and empathy and compassion,” Murphy said. “In each, President Holloway has proven himself a capable leader who has put the health and safety of the entire Rutgers community as his very top priority."
Several students and alumni provided remarks as well, including Susan Badia, a Rutgers Business School senior and Nikhil Sadaranganey, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly.
Both students spoke on how Holloway’s policies and leadership helped them through their college experience. Bandia discussed the Scarlet Promise Grant, which provides additional need-based financial aid to close the gap between federal financial aid and what families can afford, while Sadaranganey discussed how Holloway supported and engaged with students throughout his first year at Rutgers.
Additional speakers included Jon Oliver, chair of the University Senate, Nyeema Watson, vice chancellor for diversity, inclusion and civic engagement at Rutgers—Camden and Engelbert Santana, assistant dean of advisement for the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers—Newark. Each offered their well wishes and support to Holloway and discussed their positive experiences with him as University president.
Dwight McBride, president of The New School, delivered the keynote address, leading the audience in singing the first verse of the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Angelson and Lal then presented Holloway with the presidential medallion, and Holloway delivered the inaugural address.
He said that while it has been a challenging first year in office, he is grateful for his experience at the University thus far. He discussed his hopes for higher education in the U.S. and how universities are providing a multitude of services to society.
“Just consider what colleges and universities are providing on a daily basis — we are training tomorrow’s workforces, we are preserving the world’s cultural heritages, we are addressing the most difficult societal challenges through research, advocacy and the education of future leaders,” he said. “From where I stand, we are the best hope for a better tomorrow."
He said he believes in the excellence that already exists within the University community and that he plans to build toward something bigger by focusing on service, equal access and research.
Plans for the future include expanding the Scarlet Promise Grant program and constructing the New Brunswick Innovation and Technology Hub as a new facility for research at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, he said. In addition, he announced the creation of the Rutgers Summer Service Initiative, which will place second and third-year students in public service internships where they will learn to serve the broader community.
“When I look at Rutgers, I want to see a place that aspires boldly to be both a leading engine of world-changing research and a vehicle of social mobility for students across the socioeconomic spectrum,” Holloway said. “This is what excellence looks like.”