Rutgers-Camden's new leader takes a public bow

Wendell E. Pritchett (left) introduces Phoebe A. Haddon (center), his replacement as Rutgers-Camden's chancellor, to university secretary Leslie Fehrenbach.
Wendell E. Pritchett (left) introduces Phoebe A. Haddon (center), his replacement as Rutgers-Camden's chancellor, to university secretary Leslie Fehrenbach. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 06, 2014

Phoebe A. Haddon, the incoming chancellor of Rutgers-Camden, on Tuesday described her appointment as a homecoming, and said she was committed to community development and educational access.

Haddon spoke briefly to the Rutgers-Camden board of directors, a governing body created as part of a higher education restructuring that took effect last year. The board oversees campus budgets and expenditures, construction, and appointment of personnel.

"I assure you that I will work hard and be a good influence here," Haddon said in her first public remarks since her appointment. "Let me also add that not only is this a coming home, in the sense that I was a longtime member of the faculty at Temple and engaged in the community there, but I also was born and raised in New Jersey."

Haddon, who begins work July 1, pledged to make Rutgers-Camden "the best that we have to offer, nationally."

The board voted to set Haddon's base salary at $325,000.

Haddon comes to Rutgers-Camden from the University of Maryland, where she is dean of the law school. She taught for 28 years at Temple University's Beasley School of Law before that.

"Phoebe has been a regional leader in this region for a long time," said Wendell E. Pritchett, the outgoing chancellor of Rutgers University's southernmost campus.

At Tuesday's meeting, Pritchett offered the first public look at a campus strategic plan that will take effect this year. Rutgers-Camden first began a self-evaluation in 2012, Pritchett said, following legislative approval of a statewide higher education restructuring. It is now part of a universitywide plan.

Rutgers-Camden's plan includes increasing undergraduate research opportunities, creating a graduate student culture comparable to that at Rutgers' New Brunswick and Newark campuses, and expanding programs under which students can learn by experience, Pritchett said.

"These are things that we have focused on over the last couple of years, but we have much more work to do," Pritchett said, "with our student orientation and advising, enhancing our services, and making them clearer so that students have a path toward graduation."

Rutgers-Camden has increased its enrollment and opened new programs, such as three doctoral programs, Pritchett said. But although the number of out-of-state and international students has increased, he said, "our bread and butter will remain students from New Jersey, particularly from Southern New Jersey."

Sitting in the front row, Haddon took notes as Pritchett outlined the campus plan, which she will inherit.

"These things are all important; probably the most important thing we can do for our students is provide more financial support," Pritchett said. "We know that the largest reason why students stall in achieving their degree is financial, so figuring out how we can meet those gaps is crucial."

Later in the presentation, he returned to funding. Rutgers-Camden has an annual budget of about $80 million.

"Our students are working-class, most of them are first in their family to go to college, and they desperately need financial support to attend here," he said.

A draft of the strategic plan will be completed over the next few weeks, Pritchett said, and then handed off to Haddon and Robert L. Barchi, Rutgers' president. It will not be made public until the summer or fall.


jlai@phillynews.com856-779-3220 @elaijuh

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