Holloway’s freshman year as Rutgers University’s 21st president has been the same as that of the freshman students: mostly online.
He took his post in July months into the ongoing global pandemic, and his inaugural address to the Rutgers student community in September was on Facebook Live, something he lamented in real time.
Holloway’s had to make some tough calls: hundreds of layoffs, thousands of furloughs. Cost-cutting measures still left Rutgers in the red, however. Holloway told members of the Senate Higher Education Committee in late January
that the state university’s cumulative pandemic-related deficit was approximately $180 million.
Another tough call: On Feb. 11, he announced that despite the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine rollout, commencement events this year will all be held virtually. He called the decision a disappointing one, and noted, “unfortunately, it is not feasible to create appropriate, smaller ceremonies in a safe and equitable way.”
But Rutgers researchers have been in the forefront of the battle against the pandemic, producing some real breakthroughs. And Holloway occupies the top spot.
“He’s an incredibly impressive guy,” someone in the know said in September. “He started under the most difficult of all circumstances, I mean, I can’t imagine a tougher way to start. And more people know him already than [seven-year Princeton University President] Eisgruber. In a time when it’s very hard to meet people, he is meeting people, and as much as you can in this impossible environment, has hit the ground running. And that’s to his total credit.”
“He’s quickly tried to make himself into a New Jersey entity,” the insider said. “And kudos to him.”
Hard decisions will likely continue, but Holloway puts his money where his mouth is: he kicked off a $10 million campaign for Scarlet Promise Grants on Day 1 of his role, and to launch it, personally donated $75,000.
He told the Senate Higher Education Committee in January that the campaign has reached $7 million so far.