Marks First Year,
Looks to a
Bright Future

Antonio D. Tillis hit the ground running when he began his tenure as Rutgers University–Camden’s chancellor on July 1, 2021. “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a fruitful and productive first year at Rutgers–Camden,” said Tillis, a noted scholar of Afro-Hispanic studies who previously served as interim president of the University of Houston–Downtown.

Accomplishments from Tillis’ first year leading the university include his “15 in 5” slate of initiatives, which consists of 15 strategic programs in a five-year strategic plan. Initiatives that have already launched include the Chancellor’s Learning Abroad Course Scholarship, the Chancellor’s Grant for Staff Development, and the inaugural edition of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Global Racial Reckoning and Civility, which featured noted author and scholar Sheryll Cashin.

Another program in Tillis’ 15 in 5 plan is the Chancellor’s Mayoral Internship Program, which will give at least five students per year the opportunity to work alongside civic leaders in the City of Camden’s Mayor’s Office. “This program is an excellent example of how we can serve the city of Camden as an anchor institution striving for the public good,” Tillis said. “Our students will be introduced to the many possibilities that accompany a career in public service. And they will bring their own knowledge to the internships, applying their skills to help advance the key government functions that are essential to the life of our great city.”

Minority Serving and Hispanic-Serving Designations

In January of Tillis’ first year, Rutgers–Camden achieved status as a Minority-Serving Institution. The U.S. Department of Education designation—given to institutions where 50 percent of undergraduates are minority students—ensures increased access to higher education for low-income and minority students. To build on that designation, Tillis is striving for the Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institution designation. “We are very close to achieving that additional distinction,” Tillis said, adding that it will bring numerous benefits to Rutgers–Camden and better serve Hispanic residents of South Jersey and beyond.

Global Reach

While Tillis has worked to strengthen Rutgers–Camden’s influence in the city of Camden and across South Jersey, he has also developed and enhanced the university’s ties around the globe. He attended the 25th Learning Abroad trip to South Africa in March, and he also visited a university in Egypt to develop a partnership. In addition, he has been closely involved in Rutgers–Camden’s expanding relationship with Universidad Nacional de Asunción (UNA), Paraguay’s largest university. “Rutgers–Camden is very focused on making local impact,” Tillis said, “but we also have an extensive global reach.”

New Traditions

Rites of Passage Ceremony
The first traditional commencement ceremonies that Tillis presided over in May included the inaugural iteration of the Rites of Passage ceremony at Rutgers–Camden, a pre-commencement event that began at Rutgers–New Brunswick in 1992 to honor Black and Latino/a students. 

In September, Tillis will introduce the first convocation to be held at Rutgers–Camden, a new tradition that will bring together students to mark the beginning of their journeys through a new academic year. “I’m very excited to establish this convocation, which will energize the campus,” he said. “Rutgers–Camden is a place that cherishes its traditions, and this will be one more tradition that we will all look forward to enjoying.”