Fall 2020 Welcome Message from Chancellor Nancy Cantor

Dear Rutgers University – Newark community members,

It is always an uplifting moment for me to welcome back our students, faculty, and staff—and warmly welcome new students—to our close-knit community. It’s a moment full of hope, and we need hope more than ever in this moment of collective uncertainty, of heartrending losses, and of heartfelt calls for a long-overdue reckoning with structural racism and social inequity. We are deeply wounded, but hopeful that things can actually change. The struggle to overcome the pandemic and to overcome injustice both call for a collective sense of responsibility to walk step by step together down a long, winding, uneven road. To effect change, we need each other now more than ever.

In these unprecedented times, we are walking that road through uncharted territory, but being the community we are, we know that our diverse talent is needed ever more to change the status quo as we strive not for a “new normal” but a better world. In that sense, we are pioneers not only of a new educational landscape but hopefully of a new societal landscape that is fairer, more just, more equitable, and full of more opportunity for more people.

As we all think and interact, synchronously, asynchronously, by email, by phone, together, let’s keep front and center in our minds the mandate of this critical moment: to use all our imagination and pent-up energy for new ideas, new ways to spread and create social equity, to give more people in our city, state, nation, and world, real opportunity to grow and prosper. While at first glance, it may seem impossible to imagine keeping momentum on the publicly-engaged scholarship, learning, and collective work that so characterizes our Rutgers-Newark family as we all pivot to a mostly virtual world. Yet, having watched the creativity of our faculty in their newly-tuned pedagogy and research over the last months, the overwhelming persistence of our dedicated staff to stay connected and on top of our work, and the ingenuity of our amazing students in finding the places and means to succeed as the world turned upside down, I know that “remote” will not be “distant” for this dogged community—not when there is such a collective call to waken us all.

We have a lot of work to do – in our teaching, learning, innovating, and activism, and we can’t let down for a moment in our effort to not just recover, but to get to a better place—a place where health is for everybody, where justice is for everyone, where all children can thrive in every school, where economic growth is equitable, where every community is sustainable. If there is any community where we can find the diverse talent, as well as the hope and the perseverance, needed to move us closer to that kind of world, it is ours. Let’s commit the full breadth and depth of our best selves to this together.

In solidarity,
Nancy Cantor