Faces of Rutgers-Newark: Ronald K. Chen

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Ron Chen at the 2010 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland

Most people know Ronald K. Chen as vice dean, clinical professor of law, and Judge Leonard I. Garth Scholar at the Rutgers School of Law—Newark where he teaches courses on contracts, federal courts, mass media law, and church-state relations. Others are aware of his service for four years as the Public Advocate of New Jersey where he provided advocacy for a number of constituencies and represented the public interest in various legal proceedings. But there is a whole other world of individuals that do not associate Chen with teaching law courses or handling law-related matters. For this group, when they think of Ron Chen, they think of rowing.

Rowing (or crew) is one of the oldest competitions of the Olympics. Like all other sports, it takes skill, intense training, and physical stamina. It is a team sport that requires tremendous group coordination and effort and a strong work ethic. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Chen would be attracted to the sport. He has been an active  participant in rowing since his prep school days at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and his devotion to rowing continued throughout his undergraduate years at Dartmouth College through his years as a Rutgers law student and up to the present.

Chen currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Rowing Association, umpire and Masters Commission member of Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron (International Rowing Federation) or FISA, and umpire of the home races on the Raritan River of Rutgers University’s rowing team.

“I’ve been serving as a Rutgers umpire for nearly 30 years,” comments Chen. “It’s my way of giving back to the university. I’ll gladly referee races on the Passaic River whenever Rutgers-Newark establishes its own rowing team,” Chen jokes.

Chen brought to Rutgers his sense of teamwork honed over the years from crew. He is the ultimate Rutgers cheerleader and exudes tremendous school spirit. He graduated from Rutgers School of Law—Newark in 1983 and has been a member of the Rutgers law school faculty since 1987. He has served as the associate dean for academic affairs and the acting director of the Minority Student Program. With a passion and commitment for public service law, Chen’s focus areas include voters’ rights, affordable housing,
childhood lead poisoning prevention, deinstitutionalization of persons with developmental disabilities, and affordable energy for ratepayers.

From law and rowing Chen has ventured into dance … sort of. While serving as Public Advocate he was introduced to the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which “fuse[s] the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art.” Chen now is a member of the company’s Board of Directors.