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First Black Chancellor of Rutgers-Camden Brings Community-conscious Approach to Job

When Dr. Wendell E. Pritchett becomes the first Black chancellor of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden — the southernmost of three regional campuses that make up The State University of New Jersey — he will preside over a campus that is steadily growing even as other institutions are experiencing a decline in enrollment.

At one time, the sprawling 5,200-student campus headquartered in one of America’s most impoverished cities was often viewed as a step-child to Rutgers flagship campus located in New Brunswick. Political leaders often overlooked the campus, and for years it struggled for additional funding, despite the fact that many students were attracted to the urban campus because of its affordable tuition and its proximity to Philadelphia.

But over the past few years, Rutgers-Camden has put great efforts into reshaping its image and aggressively courting talented minority students who have the grades and test scores to go to more prestigious academic institutions.

Last year, Rutgers-Camden launched a doctoral program in childhood studies, the first Ph.D. program on campus and the first program of its kind in the nation, attracting seasoned faculty and undergraduate students from some of the country’s best institutions.

Pritchett, who is currently a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will arrive at Rutgers-Camden at a time when it is experiencing tremendous growth. In his new role, he will manage the day-to-day operations of the campus and oversee an annual budget of about $50 million.

Pritchett, a noted historian and legal scholar who currently teaches courses in property land use and urban policy at Penn, says that the city of Camden could benefit from the campus’ growth. He doesn’t just bring his academic credentials to his post, but he also has years of practical public policy experience that he says will serve him well. Pritchett previously served as policy director and deputy chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and is currently the president of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp., and vice chairman of the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia.

“Rutgers-Camden is really a terrific place and it has a good infrastructure,” says Pritchett, who is the author of several books including Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews and the Changing Face of the Ghetto. “I plan to build on what the campus is already doing well and increase interest in Camden and other urban areas.”

Pritchett, who has taught at Penn since 2001 and served as associate dean from 2006-2008, holds a bachelor’s from Brown University, a law degree from Yale Law School, and a doctorate in history from Penn. He says that he plans to continue to increase undergraduate and graduate enrollment and expand the faculty and staff by adding new programs.


“We can leverage those resources to help the city of Camden,” he says. “I’ve always been really interested in cities and how they’re organized, how they operate, what their problems are.”

Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick says that Pritchett is the best man to lead the campus forward.

“Wendell Pritchett is an outstanding choice who will help the Camden Campus continue to grow as a national leader in teaching, research and service,” says McCormick. “He brings vision and energy to the role of chancellor, as well as a keen perspective on how higher education institutions can become critical partners in the advancement of a city and region.”

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