The Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies is proud to recognize and celebrate our very own Professor Michelle A. Stephens, Dean of Humanities, who has been recently named as the founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice. Please see the official announcement from Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway on September 24, 2020.
Members of the Rutgers Community,
The United States is at a tipping point with respect to racial and social justice. As I have been communicating since I arrived at Rutgers, we are living in a moment of global racial reckoning, a moment that calls upon us to be a country that lives up to the aspirations in its founding documents and takes concrete actions to end the social, economic, and racial inequities that persist. Moreover, from the conversations I have had with faculty, students, staff, and alumni over the past few months, I am convinced that Rutgers has both the capacity and the obligation to play a critical part in this work.
For this reason, I am thrilled to announce today that Rutgers has been awarded a $15 million, five-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new, university-wide initiative: The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, a scholarly project with centers based on our New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden campuses.
Aligning with the Mellon Foundation’s humanistic orientation, the Institute will support and amplify the scholarship of researchers who are based in the humanities or lean on humanistic methods and whose work has consequences in areas such as policy reform, K-12 education, social justice work, and the carceral state. It will bring together scholars from all disciplines so that the product of their work can help to inform real-world decisions about solutions to the problems that have, at long last, been thrust into sharp focus in this country and around the globe.
In establishing the Institute, we are declaring Rutgers’ deep investment in scholarly inquiry related to anti-racism and social inequality, at home and abroad. In this way, Rutgers will make clear that it is a welcoming place for scholars committed to the study of race and systems of inequity in governance, culture, commerce, and social control. This grant allows us to recruit more emerging and top scholars in these areas, regardless of academic discipline, and help retain our top young talent. The Institute will also fund post-doctoral fellowships, giving us an early look at the next generation of academic leaders on these critical topics.
I want to emphasize that the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice will function actively on each of our regional campuses and truly be Rutgers-wide. Each local center of the Institute will be led by a faculty member, coordinating with an executive director who will operate centrally and report directly to Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prabhas Moghe. Professor Michelle Stephens, who submitted the grant on behalf of Rutgers, will serve as its founding director and principal investigator for the grant. We intend to recruit outstanding scholars to each of our campuses while drawing upon the strong talent we already claim in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick. Moreover, there will be synergies between the Institute and the important work of our Senior Vice President for Equity, Enobong (Anna) Branch.
I am extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this significant grant (full disclosure: I serve on the Mellon board but was recused from the decision on this matter), and congratulate Dr. Stephens and everyone at Rutgers who worked on preparing the grant proposal. I fully expect that this initial funding will be supplemented by philanthropy from individuals and foundations who share Rutgers’ commitment to understanding, confronting, and addressing global racial and social inequity and injustice.
Rutgers, an institution older than the country itself, has a history of excellence in the humanities as well as in the advancement of social justice through our centers, institutes, and clinics. Building on these strengths, the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice provides us with an opportunity to be an international leader in understanding the causes, effects, and solutions to problems that have plagued the world.
President and University Professor