Rutgers University names its first black president in 253-year history

Jonathan Holloway most recently served as Northwestern University's provost.
Jonathan Holloway.
Jonathan Holloway.Courtesy of Northwestern University

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By Doha Madani

Rutgers University named Jonathan Holloway as its new president Tuesday, making him the first black president at the centuries-old school.

The school formally announced the move to replace current president Robert Barchi, who announced his retirement in July, after NJ.com first reported Holloway was up for the role over the weekend.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy commented on Holloway's hire on Twitter, where he said the historian shares his commitment to keeping college education affordable and the need to put students first.

"Under his leadership, I’m confident Rutgers will continue rising as one of our nation’s leading universities," Murphy said.

Rutgers announced Holloway will begin his presidency July 1. He will be the first person of color to lead the university in its 253-year history.

Holloway, who most recently served as Northwestern University's provost, earned his bachelor's degree in American studies from Stanford University and a postgraduate degree in history from Yale University. He was also the first black dean for Yale College, but stepped down two years short of his full five-year term in 2017.

He announced his resignation in 2016, a year after the school experienced heightened divisions after a school committee warned against students wearing offensive Halloween costumes, such as Native American headgear, turbans or blackface. Protests were sparked when a faculty member sent an email that said students should be able to wear any costume.

Black students on campus criticized Holloway for days of silence over the incident, according to the Yale Daily News. He apologized to the students on campus after a week of protests, the school paper reported.

"It is clear that what I’ve been trying to do quietly and behind the scenes has not been enough,” Holloway told students in 2015, according to the Yale Daily News. “I don’t expect your faith that I’ll do better, but I want you to know that I’m going to try my damnedest.”