NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – On July 25, Christopher J. Molloy was named interim chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick. In making the announcement, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said Molloy was the obvious choice, as he “knows what it is to be a student, a faculty member and a dean at Rutgers-New Brunswick and a senior administrator at the university.”

Since 2013, Molloy had served as the university’s senior vice president for research and economic development, where he handled oversight and strategic planning for the university’s more than $700 million in annual research expenditures and management of the many institutional offices and resources that support Rutgers’ research and economic development activities.

As chancellor, Molloy now oversees Rutgers’ flagship, with more than 50,000 students, 4,000 faculty, 13 degree-granting schools, and 175 research centers and institutes, among its academic assets.

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TAPinto New Brunswick recently met Molloy at his office in the Old Queens administration building for a free-ranging interview. Molloy talked about the need for Rutgers to sell its story to prospective students, to bring more capital improvements to campus and his long-term plans.

Some background, first: Molloy joined Rutgers in 2007 as dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in New Brunswick. In 2011, he was appointed interim provost for biomedical and health sciences and led the complex integration of Rutgers and most of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2013. Molloy then served as interim chancellor of the newly created Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, before leading the university’s Office of Research and Economic Development.

In that role, Molloy expanded the university’s research innovation through patents, startups and the transfer of technologies to industry, including advanced internal translational research support in the life sciences and other research areas. 

TAPinto: You earned a pharmacy degree from Rutgers. Did you ever think you would be chancellor?

Molloy: “I never thought I would be in academic administration. I was a good chemistry student in high school. My mother worked at Pfizer in Brooklyn. I heard a new pharmacy school was opened here.  I applied and got in. I knew a good thing about Rutgers is that if I didn’t like pharmacy, I could always transfer to a chemistry major. There were many majors to choose from. I became interested in pharmacy, and ended up coming back here for graduate school.”

(Molloy earned his doctoral degree from the joint Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Graduate Program in Toxicology. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute and went on to hold senior research and management positions at Johnson & Johnson, 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute.)

TAPinto: As Chancellor, please try to summarize this huge job you have in New Brunswick.

Molloy: “Yes, I am the chief operating officer, responsible for academic administration to the entire New Brunswick university unit. I am also proud to be one of the very few Rutgers alums to have served in a senior administrative position at the university. I have full budget responsibility for all schools in New Brunswick and Piscataway.  I have full academic oversight and manage all student services for the university, increasing communication and marketing for the university and working directly for the university president. I am also responsible for human resources and research across the university.”

TAPinto: You mention marketing. In the heavily competitive environment to attract the most successful students, and keep them in New Jersey, what is your elevator pitch for Rutgers?

Molloy: “We are a very large, dynamic, research-intensive university that is part of the Big Ten. So Rutgers has all the great dynamics of student life with Division 1 sports. We have very high-quality majors in the humanities and scientific disciplines. We have lots of options for students in studying and changing majors in a variety of areas. Our student body is organically diverse and a reflection of the state of New Jersey. Also, I am very focused on expanding real-world opportunities for our students.

Our campus life is exciting: we have the largest college residence hall system in the country, with 16,200 in New Brunswick and Piscataway.

The quality of our faculty is what really differentiate ourselves. We are one of the nation’s top public research universities with $700 million in research expenditures. There are plenty of opportunities for our students to work in labs to get those undergraduate experiences that far exceed what a student may get elsewhere. 

It’s really all about the breadth and depth we offer. Students want choice.

Plus, the cost to attend a comparable university out of state could cost double or triple in tuition for a New Jersey student. Rutgers offers tremendous value, with a very competitive higher education degree at a reasonable price.”

TAPinto: What does this all mean for admissions?

Molloy: “Rutgers is truly a global village, with students representing all 50 states and 100 counties. The percentage of our students from out-of-state is about 18 percent, and admissions are getting more and more competitive. That is because the price point of our tuition is modest, the reputation of the school is increasing, applications and are up and we now have the largest freshman class ever in New Brunswick this year, with approximately 7,000 students.” Average SAT scores for incoming Rutgers-New Brunswick students are now 1299, with an average GPA of 3.8

The University of Michigan has 40-50 percent of its students from out of state, paying three times in the in-state tuition. We are looking for 25 percent of our students to come from out of state, which will keep our in-state tuition low. We want to attract more students from Long Island and other areas of New York. We have a recruiting group throughout the tri-state area showing what we offer in the Big Ten is comparable to Michigan.”

Coming Friday: Part Two of the Molloy Spotlight