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April 13, 2020

To the Campus Community:

One month ago, we began to realize the scope of the challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic would pose to Rutgers University–Camden and to our entire nation. At that time, we could not have imagined how this crisis would disrupt our lives. Now, we recognize that we are living in an historic moment that remains fluid.

Throughout it all, I have been, and remain, in awe of how our campus community has risen to confront this challenge.

We have pulled together as only Scarlet Raptors can. Confronted with a challenge unprecedented in its scope and urgency, we have responded with creativity, focus, energy, and compassion. We have long expressed that Rutgers–Camden is a place of community and support, and never has that been more vividly demonstrated than it is right now.

Thanks to your efforts, our students are continuing on their pathways to a Rutgers–Camden degree while they continue to receive the high level of support that defines our Camden campus experience. I am certain that your kindness and empathy have helped to alleviate some of the burden that this crisis has placed upon our students – and upon us all.

While we all are missing acutely our ability to connect in person, the remote nature of our work has not diminished our drive. There are many reasons to be proud of Rutgers–Camden right now, and I would like to offer a few:

Our colleagues are going above and beyond the call of duty to make certain that our services continue as smoothly as possible. The Rutgers University–Camden IT and instructional design and technology units worked with our academic units and the faculty to lift our learning experiences onto platforms so that they could be offered remotely. Everyone involved in that enterprise performed a truly herculean task.

While most of our staff and faculty are working remotely, some of our colleagues remain physically present to insure that our campus remains secure, and that all of our students are served. Those units include the RUPD, facilities, IT, the Wellness Center, student affairs, dining, and the mail room, among others. Please join me in thanking these colleagues for their herculean effort. Their work is also essential to our ability to reinitiate campus life when the crisis has passed, and I am most grateful.

I applaud and thank our students, who have been patient and collaborative as we have moved our enterprise to a new model. Their feedback has helped us to better respond to this situation and I am certain that we will continue to rely upon constructive input from them. I also thank the deans and the campus executive team, who have been functioning on a non-stop basis to make certain that our institution continues to advance.

Our Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs is at the forefront of data analysis to help health care and government leaders anticipate trends. I encourage you to review the Rand Institute’s research reports and its daily COVID-19 tracker. Our Small Business Development Center is assisting South Jersey’s entrepreneurs. Our law school clinics – such as the Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic and the Domestic Violence Clinic – are helping to protect many of our citizens. In our nursing school, faculty and students alike are answering the call to service in many ways.

Our faculty are applying their research to address issues arising from this pandemic. For example, in our chemistry department, work is underway to develop the rapid detection of viral RNA as a method of diagnosing COVID-19. Other science faculty are utilizing 3D printers to create masks to support health care providers. Our Center for Risk and Responsibility is studying the overwhelming stress that this pandemic places on insurance providers.

Recently, some of our students and colleagues have been called to active service as nurses and/or members of the military. As a veteran-friendly campus, we have a population of students who are being activated as reservists or guards to help combat COVID-19. They, and the many others on the front lines of this battle, are true heroes. Please join me in thanking them and keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

This is a difficult time for all of our families, and it is disproportionately so for some of our students. If you are in a position to do so, please consider supporting the Chancellor’s Emergency Fund, which is helping students who are struggling to remain focused on their studies while confronting such issues as housing insecurity and hunger.

The severe financial strain upon our state economy profoundly affects Rutgers. There will be difficult decisions ahead, but we will make certain that our mission remains undiminished. Working together, we will emerge as a stronger institution.

I have never been more proud, nor felt more privileged, to serve as your chancellor. May the remarkable resiliency and courage shown by our Rutgers–Camden community be as much a source of hope and comfort for you as they are for me.


Phoebe A. Haddon, J.D., LL.M.
Chancellor, Rutgers University–Camden