Dear Rutgers–New Brunswick Community,
I begin my tenure as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of Rutgers–New Brunswick with a sense of excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to work with you in support of our academic mission.
As an immigrant, first-generation, Black female college student, I was appreciative of all that I received from the academy. In most of the prestigious universities I attended, my intersecting identities meant I was often in the minority. My experiences in academia undoubtedly inform why I ascribe high importance to diversity efforts in academic spaces. But despite best intentions, some members of our community can be made to feel unwelcome and invisible. President Holloway has shared his vision for Rutgers as a ‘beloved community.’ And faculty who have worked with me have heard me talk about the importance of ‘belonging.’ Belonging is arguably the most sought-after human experience. I believe a beloved community is one where we all have the understanding that we belong.
I see Rutgers–New Brunswick—a comprehensive public research land-grant institution with the combined breadth of academic resources through its alliance with the Big Ten—as poised to deliver on its promise to serve the public; to be a sanctuary for individuals from diverse backgrounds; and to transform the lives of individuals, communities, and the world. The opportunity before us is to consider how to maintain momentum and excel in an evolving academic enterprise. Universities need to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 health pandemic and calls for racial justice, articulate a global agenda, and keep pace with rapid advances in technology and online learning. As Rutgers faces evolving challenges, further exacerbated by the health pandemic, cooperation and collaboration across units will be critical. I have seen firsthand the transformative power of unity during my tenure as dean, and I believe together, we can realize our aspirations. As Provost, I look forward to working under the leadership of Chancellor Molloy, partnering with the president's leadership team, and collaborating with the New Brunswick faculty and staff to articulate a common academic purpose and co-construct a shared academic identity.
My leadership framework is one that values transparency, collaboration, creativity, compassion, and community. I value the university’s diverse suite of academic offerings, and I look forward to working with the Rutgers–New Brunswick community to advance our academic mission. As a scholar-practitioner, I appreciate the role of research inquiry in solving real-world problems. My clinical psychologist training provides me with the knowledge of human behavior and the interpersonal skills needed to work effectively with others. But more importantly, my core value of 'community' has informed my approach to creating and fostering a sense of belonging for all individuals.
I look forward to partnering with you as we work together to advance the academic mission of Rutgers–New Brunswick.
Francine Conway, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs