Rutgers University’s First Black President In Its 253-Year History Gives Emotional Speech

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - MAY 15: Students listen to U.S. President Barack Obama while he speaks to students and attenders after receiving an honorary doctorate of laws during the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony at Rutgers University on May 15, 2016 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Obama is the first sitting president to speak at the school's commencement. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Rutgers University’s First Black President In Its 253-Year History Gives Emotional Speech

“Wouldn’t you know it, this time my hope paid off.”

Published January 23rd

Written by Alexis Reese

Rutgers University named their first Black president, Jonathan Holloway, in the school’s 253-year history. Halloway will take office later this year. 

Unanimously appointed by the University’s Board of Governors on Tuesday (Jan. 21), Holloway is the 21st president of the institution. 

He gave an emotional and touching speech reflecting on a call he had with his late mother years ago while attending graduate school. 

Holding back tears while still making the audience laugh, Holloway recalled telling his mother about what he eagerly thought was a potential job offer from Rutgers. 

While he didn’t get offered a position with the prestigious university as a graduate student, that moment would pave the way for his future. “Wouldn’t you know it, this time my hope paid off,” he said, “Mom, I got the job.”

The newly voted president said he was most interested in the job because of the excellence and motivation the university has to conduct “life-changing research.” 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted his excitement days before the official Rutgers announcement.

Rutgers announced Holloway’s presidency on their Twitter, calling him an “eminent historian, author and academic administrator.”

The move to replace the university’s current president, Robert Barchi, came after he announced his retirement to start in July

Most recently serving as Northwestern University’s provost, Holloway was also the first Black dean for Yale college. 

Before completing his full five-year term in 2017, he had an untimely resignation in 2016 a year after Yale experienced heightened racial tensions when a school committee had warned students against wearing offensive Halloween costumes (blackface, turbans, Native American headgear).  

Black Yale students were displeased with Holloway’s many days of silence over the racial incidents, including a protest. He later went on to apologize to students. 

The newly appointed president received his bachelor’s degree in american studies from Stanford and a postgraduate degree in history from Yale. 

He will begin his presidency on July 1, 2020.

(Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

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