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Rutgers Chancellor Abruptly Steps Down, Interim Steps In

Telling sources that his vision didn’t fit with the way others see the role, Rutgers University-New Brunswick Chancellor Dr. Debasish “Deba” Dutta suddenly stepped down Tuesday after one year in the position.

Dr. Debasish DuttaDr. Debasish Dutta

The problem seemed to be a difference of opinion between Dutta and the president, Dr. Robert Barchi, about the role of chancellor and how the position should evolve, according to a story in NJ Spotlight.

In a story in the Daily Targum, the school’s independent newspaper, Dutta wrote in a letter to students: “(It) has become clear that my vision for the chancellorship is not in alignment with that of the University. It is only fair that I step aside and let the University select a new leader for the New Brunswick campus.”

The action was effective immediately and Dutta will serve as a distinguished professor in the school of engineering. He will continue to receive his chancellor’s salary of $480,000 during a one-year sabbatical.

“A year is a good time to take a look back and see if something is working or not … it was just not a good fit,” said Pete McDonough, Rutgers senior vice president for external affairs.

Barchi named Dr. Christopher Molloy as interim chancellor. In a letter to the campus community, Barchi wrote, in part:

“Dr. Dutta served admirably as chancellor of Rutgers–New Brunswick. During his year as chancellor, Deba oversaw a significant administrative restructuring of the campus and met well the challenges of such an awesome responsibility.

“I wish him the best as he assumes his faculty position; I know that the members of the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees share my good wishes for Deba.

“Christopher J. Molloy, Ph.D. was today named as interim chancellor of Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Dr. Molloy assumes this position after serving as the university’s senior vice president for research and economic development since December 2013. He was previously the dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, the interim provost for biomedical and health sciences, and the interim chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.”

Molloy is a Rutgers former student and as an administrator there played a key role in overseeing the 2013 merger with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Dutta was the first New Brunswick chancellor from outside the university. As of Friday afternoon, he was still listed on the university Website as chancellor.

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