Former Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway to lead Rutgers University

Jonathan Holloway delivers Yale College’s Freshman Address in 2016
Jonathan Holloway delivers Yale College’s Freshman Address in 2016 (Photo credit: Michael Marsland)

Jonathan Holloway ’95 Ph.D., who served as dean of Yale College from 2014 to 2017, was named the 21st president of Rutgers University on Jan. 21, becoming the first African American to lead New Jersey’s largest research university.

Holloway, a noted scholar of post-emancipation United States history with a focus on social and intellectual history, begins his new role on July 1, 2020. Currently, he is provost at Northwestern University, a position he has held since August 2017.

I am completely delighted that Jonathan Holloway has been named the next president of Rutgers University,” Yale President Peter Salovey said. “Jonathan was an exceptional dean of Yale College. He cares deeply about the educational mission within the research university, and his love for students is obvious to anyone who knows him. At Yale, he was an exceptional scholar, teacher, and head of college before becoming dean. Rutgers will be well served with Jonathan at the helm, and I am thrilled that I will now get to work with him as fellow presidents of institutions in the Association of American Universities.” 

Holloway began his career at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), before joining the Yale faculty in 1999.  He became dean of Yale College in July 2014 — the first African American to hold the position.

He also served as head of Yale’s Hopper College, chair of the Council of Heads of College, director of undergraduate studies, and chair of the Department of African American Studies. In 2009, he received the William Clyde DeVane Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching in Yale College. He was named the Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies in 2015.

Holloway reflected on his journey through the academy, the next step of which will find him leading a university with an enrollment of nearly 69,000 students.

Arriving at this moment is very exciting, certainly, but today is really the culmination of so many different experiences I’ve had over my career: my first job at UCSD, my climb through the ranks at Yale, and then my immersion into administration first through Hopper and then the Yale College Dean’s Office,” Holloway said.  “I brought so many Yale lessons with me to Northwestern, and they served me well. I am grateful that I’ll be able to carry them with me again as I take this next step toward Rutgers.”

Holloway will succeed Robert L. Barchi, who has led Rutgers since 2012. The university’s board of governors and board of trustees approved his appointment Tuesday.

As dean of Yale College, Holloway helped set the stage for the smooth and successful expansion of the student body that accompanied the fall of 2017 opening of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges, which increased the undergraduate population 15% from 5,400 to 6,200 students.

In a 2014 address to the Opening Assembly for the Yale College Class of 2018, Holloway urged the first-year students to be willing to engage in difficult conversations about the core values that shape our nation and world.

If you accept our charge and ask and answer challenging questions you will no doubt encounter situations that are upsetting and that might force you to take unpopular positions as you journey toward a more profound understanding of yourself and your role in society,” he said. “If you accept our charge, the voyage will be rocky. I can assure you, however, that it is worth it.” 

Holloway has authored two books: “Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941” and “Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940.” In 2015, he wrote an introduction for a new edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’ “Souls of Black Folk,” published by Yale University Press. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in American studies from Stanford University, where he played outside linebacker on the football team.

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