Famous Friday: Dr. Jonathan S. Holloway 

Dr. Jonathan Holloway has been named as the twenty first President of Rutgers University and is expected to step into the position in July. Holloway will be Rutgers’ first non-white president since the college was founded more than 250 years ago. Rutgers board of governors Chairman Mark Angelson welcomed Holloway saying, “He has a giant heart and a sense of humor. … His academic credentials are through the roof.”

It is certainly true that Dr. Holloway has a very impressive academic and professional history. He went to college at Stanford, where he received a bachelor’s degree with honors in American Studies and played football with Senator Cory Booker. Holloway went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Yale. He began his academic career at UC San Diego and later joined the faculty at Yale in 1999. Holloway‘s academic work focused on post-emancipation American history and black intellectual history. He is a supporter of affirmative action and reparations for slavery. He became a full professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies at Yale in 2004. He chaired the governing body of Yale’s residential colleges, the Council of Masters, from 2009 to 2014. He was appointed Dean of Yale College in 2014. Holloway left Yale to become Provost of Northwestern University in 2017.

Holloway, who is 52, called himself honored to lead Rutgers, its 70,000 students enrolled and 23,000 employees. “We are still living in an era of firsts, which is exciting and shameful to be honest,” Holloway said.

Dr. Jonathan Holloway mostly grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and comes from a family of high achievers. In fact, both his brother and his sister also attended Stanford and his brother Brian played in the NFL at the same time my dad did. Holloway’s father, Dr. Wendell Holloway, was a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force and had successful careers in government, corporate lobbying and higher education. Wendell concluded his military career on the faculty of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, where he was the first African American to teach. Holloway’s mother Kay Trent Holloway was an elementary school teacher.

The Rutgers community is obviously delighted to welcome Holloway.

Derrick Darby, a Rutgers professor in social and political philosophy and the founding director of Rutgers Social Justice Solutions Research Collaboratory said, “The appointment of Jonathan Holloway as the 21st president of Rutgers University is an historic achievement. It cements the institution’s commitment to merging diversity with academic and athletic excellence.”

Kimberly Mutcherson, professor of law at Rutgers Law School, said, “There’s often something disconcerting about celebrating firsts that feel like they’ve been such a long time coming. But I couldn’t be happier to welcome Dr. Holloway to Rutgers. He brings stellar credentials to the role of president and a commitment to representation and inclusion that can only serve us well. His appointment is a welcome reminder that excellence comes in a wide variety of people.”

Holloway also authored and edited several books including Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity. He wrote an introduction for a new edition of W.E.B. Du Souls of Black Folk.


Holloway is married to Aisling Colón, and they have two children.


  • by Karson Baldwin, President, Project RACE Teens

Photo Credit: Yale University