One and Done

Chancellor at Rutgers’s flagship campus resigns after a year, an unusually short tenure at a university already juggling its share of changes.

Rick Seltzer, InsideHigherEd

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Faculty members found themselves surprised by the way Dutta’s resignation was announced. The chancellor sent out a resignation email that arrived about 40 minutes before professors received an email from Barchi about the chancellor change, said David M. Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the New Brunswick campus who is Rutgers’s American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers chapter vice president.

“In 18 years, I’ve never seen that before,” Hughes said. “Then the fact that he admitted to a difference of opinion — that’s something I’ve never seen before in a resignation of an administrator.”

Hughes also read a statement from the Rutgers Council of AAUP-AFT Chapters, which said the leadership change indicates uncertainty at the top about the nature of Rutgers and who it serves. The statement called for the administration to grant authority to students, faculty and staff members in the selection of Dutta’s replacement.

Union members are unhappy the university has relied on more part-time and non-tenure-track professors as it increased enrollment over the years. It is “running itself like a corporation,” and the administration has not articulated a clear vision, Hughes said.

Contracts recently expired for 24 bargaining units representing 20,000 workers at Rutgers, Hughes said.

“Chancellor Dutta was effectively the second most powerful person at the university, and for him to have a public rift with the first most powerful person at the university makes those of us who have very little power at all wonder what the values of the institution are and how we should be negotiating with them,” Hughes said.

Dutta has spoken about making Rutgers affordable and how his last employer, Purdue University, charged lower tuition, Hughes said. But in recent days, the Board of Governors approved changes seen by some faculty members as being out of step with that vision.

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