Skip to content

What's next after Holloway no-confidence vote? University senators weigh in

On Friday, the Rutgers University Senate passed the no-confidence vote for University President Jonathan Holloway. – Photo by Zeete /

The Rutgers University Senate's no-confidence vote regarding University President Holloway's leadership passed on Friday, with 65 percent in favor of the resolution.

Paul Boxer, a professor in the Department of Psychology and University Senator, added the resolution to the agenda of the Senate's meeting on Friday. In an interview with The Daily Targum, he said he was relieved after the vote was passed and saw it as necessary to regain the Senate's shared governance power.

"If history is our precedent here, we will see more of the same from the president — ignoring our resolutions, setting aside our recommendations and neglecting shared governance," Boxer said. "But I hope we have reached an inflection point. I am going to maintain my optimism because I have to — I have a very strong affinity for this university, and I know that through collaborative shared governance, we can accomplish great things."

The University Senate is a "deliberative" group that functions to, within its jurisdiction, assess University legislation, advise University issues, the Board of Governors or the University president and evaluate appeals submitted to the Senate.

"(The Senate is) meant to advise the president, but it does hold some real shared governance power," said Heather Pierce, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and University Senator. "One of the issues that's on the resolution, though, is that over the summer, one of those powers — that University policy actually gives the Senate real decision-making power, veto power over is in the creation and merger of academic units. And this came up with the (medical) school merger."

The decision to merge New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) in New Brunswick took place in July when the Board of Governors unanimously voted in favor of the merger, as previously reported by the Targum.

Pierce said Holloway and the Board of Governors encroached on the Senate's power to advise major academic decisions, by unanimously ratifying the vote after many community members expressed their disdain with the decision.

She said Friday's resolution will not result in any immediate formal action but will be heard by the Board of Governors, who will make final decisions since they collectively preside over the University president.

In a statement to the Targum, University Spokesperson Dory Devlin said Holloway will keep working with the Rutgers community and University Senate.

The statement listed several accomplishments by Holloway, faculty, staff and students, including navigating the pandemic, increasing the University's national rankings, raising sponsored research at Rutgers and yielding more scholarship and fellowship applicants.

The statement's closing remarks said the Board of Governors aids Holloway and that the group is obligated to appoint a University president.

In response to the University's statement, Boxer said the verbiage is inaccurate and that the University has not coordinated with the Senate for months.

"During that time, many of our direct communications to him were ignored. The history of those attempts is clearly spelled out within the no-confidence resolution," Boxer said.

Kevin Schroth, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and executive committee member of the Senate, said the no-confidence vote would not benefit communication between the Senate and the University.

"I don't think it's productive at all. I don't think that it will help us to rebuild bridges that will help the Senate to get where it is at its best, which is being able to provide advice and contribute to a dialogue with the administration. I think this builds bigger walls between the Senate and the University," Schroth said.

Regarding the Senate's vetoing power, Schroth said the exact text referencing the Senate's veto ruling is obscure, and previous moves to change the ruling were negated. He also said that the Senate acknowledged this unclear policy, whether they had the power or not, in 2018 with former University President Robert Barchi.

Also in opposition to the vote was Natalie Borisovets, a Rutgers librarian and University Senator, who said that while she disagrees with the decisions Holloway has made, she thinks this vote will not result in a positive outcome for shared governance or the advancement of the Senate and the University.

Ronald Quincy, a professor of professional practice in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and University Senator, said he is opposed to the vote due to its implications.

"I think this action, if we approve it, is extreme. It's extraordinary. I think it is a hindrance to reconciliation. I think that it has destabilizing elements," he said.

Audrey Truschke, a professor and the Asian Studies director in the Department of History and University Senator, said that the vote is a means of holding University officials responsible.

Truschke said the no-confidence vote is the culmination of a series of grievances with Holloway's leadership and that the board waited some time for this decision.

"Nobody wanted this. We all wanted Holloway to succeed. We were all excited when he was appointed as University President. He had some questionable decisions in his past, but we were hopeful that he had grown and that at Rutgers, it would be a sort of a new thing. He came in with so much goodwill and so many people, including me, very much rooting for him to succeed, and he has gotten chance after chance after chance," Truschke said.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe