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Cantor delivers final report at U. Board of Trustee meeting

On Tuesday, the Rutgers Board of Trustees gathered at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers—Newark where trustees shared strategic and financial goals. – Photo by @rutgers_newark

On Tuesday, at noon, the Rutgers Board of Trustees met at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers—Newark to discuss trustee engagement, financial aid and what it means to be an anchor institution.

University President Jonathan Holloway, Rutgers—Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor and other University leaders shared reports and fielded questions from trustees.

Alan Crosta, the chair of the Board of Trustees, opened the session with an outline of the University's goals including those related to Rutgers Giving Days, donations to the Scarlet Promise Endowment, trustee attendance in upcoming University events and Rutgers' participation in statewide legislative districts.

Holloway then presented his statements, beginning with a discussion of his recent travels to cities such as Charleston, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., London, Paris and Dubai.

He said Kimberly Hopely, the executive vice president for development and alumni engagement, and her team arranged these visits. Holloway said the intention of these visits was to promote the University's presence in locations where alumni currently reside.

Holloway also discussed the recent undergraduate town hall that took place at the Newark campus on March 6.

"It was a really great event — this was for undergraduates — well organized, very well managed by Newark student government," he said. "Lots of important questions — tough ones but fair ones — and very well attended. So, I was very happy to do that."

Holloway concluded his statements with praise for the University's recent achievements, and Crosta opened the floor to questions.

Trustee Walter MacDonald asked about the University's progress on processing delays surrounding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In February, issues with the FAFSA resulted in Decision Day getting postponed from the traditional deadline of May 1 to June 1, as previously reported by The Daily Targum.

J. Michael Gower, the executive vice president — chief financial officer and treasurer for the University, responded that Rutgers, alongside other higher education institutions, have been in communication with the U.S. Department of Education about issues related to inaccurate FAFSA data.

"As of yesterday, we received six real records. We had, had 100 test records last week, but six real records, and each of them was incorrect, meaning data that came from the Department of Education was incorrect," he said. "It's just a bloody mess."

Holloway said he is considering when his office should disseminate communication around the FAFSA in order to ensure transparency with students and families.

Additionally, he said the University is exploring ways to become more exclusive as a means to generate interest in applying. He added that he foresees an increase in applications due to the University's recent integration of the Common Application in its admissions process, as well as the three campuses' record-high U.S. News & World Report rankings.

"What I can say is that we need to continue to do sort of (an) all-hands-on-deck effort to make sure that we break the narrative about Rutgers being the safety school," Holloway said.

Cantor then shared her report, featuring a roadmap of the Newark campus's journey from 2014, when she became chancellor, to its present state as an anchor institution in Newark.

She said the process involved answering fundamental questions about the identity of the University and the expectations of the community in which it operates. Cantor added that a non-gentrifying approach was central to the pursuit.

Trustee David Harris asked Cantor about the University's initiatives surrounding graduation rates and its involvement in efforts to address homelessness in Newark.

Cantor said that while the University is not primarily involved in sheltering those without housing, the City of Newark is engaging in efforts to simplify the trajectory of those seeking help. She also said the University is collaborating with corporate partners, such as Prudential, to shorten the time it takes students to graduate.

"We forget that we get better when the city gets better. We get better when we create the social mobility that brings a very diverse population to our table," Cantor said.

After Cantor answered all questions on the floor, Crosta thanked her for her work, as it was her final presentation to the Board of Trustees.

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