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The Daily Targum sat down with Interim Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and a few members of his executive team on Dec. 11 for an interview. Topics such as Molloy’s job status, campus improvements, campus mold, marijuana legalization, student safety and the University's future were discussed.
The Targum reported in September that Molloy would take the position of University chancellor in an interim basis after Debasish Dutta resigned in August.
On his current status, Molloy said, “I expect to be in this role for some time, whether it converts to permanent or not that’s really up to the president and the Board, but it is possible that that may happen.”
He has worked at Rutgers for 11 years, he said, serving as the dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, head of the merger between the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and senior vice president for Research and Economic Development.
Molloy said he wants University Career Services to better advertise or market the network of internship opportunities available for students. He wants the office to work with individual schools to talk with students about the opportunities Rutgers can offer.
“This is something that we could do better,” he said.
Rutgers is also planning to be involved in a project run by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), called "The Hub." Molloy said it would be in New Brunswick at a location with 4,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and will include an innovation or incubator center where Rutgers will be able to carry out or show some research that students have been working on. The building will allow for students to connect with potential employers as well.
Environmental sustainability is also an area where he would like to see more action taken by faculty and students, by perhaps having more committees and student-faculty interactions. He said Rutgers has been progressive on the issue, making new buildings Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, placing solar panels on the Livingston campus and continuing to conduct important climate research as well.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Salvador B. Mena said that the University has officers and personnel in place to deal with any mold issues in buildings.
“We’ve got some buildings where students have to partner with us better,” Mena said. “There are some buildings, for example, where students leave their window open. And those conditions allow moisture to come in and contribute to mold.”
The Targum reported in October that the Rutgers Psychology Department building on the Busch campus had a mold infestation, forcing some faculty and student researchers out of their offices and into tightly packed spaces.
While marijuana legalization is up to the state, Molloy said, it does create some problems for Rutgers at the federal level. Although Rutgers has conducted research on the drug in the past, potentially helping growers farm legal marijuana in New Jersey would be complicated, as he does not want to risk losing federal funding for research.
He said if marijuana were to become legal in New Jersey, it would propose some challenges but its impact on safety is unclear.
“There are some people who can argue that driving safety can be impacted by marijuana. I don’t think the studies have been that clear on that,” he said. “In my opinion it has been no worse than alcohol, and alcohol has clearly been a problem.”
Whether marijuana legalization impacts student behavior is also unclear, he said, as he believes that experiment has been going on for 40 to 50 years.
Molloy said student safety is a concern of his, particularly regarding guns and violence. This January he will participate in exercises that will evaluate how Rutgers handles these situations. He wants the University to remain being proactive toward possible incidents.
And, with a half a dozen students hit by a vehicle on campus this semester, pedestrian safety remains a concern of his, Molloy said.
Rutgers has some of the best departments in the humanities and sciences compared to other Big Ten schools, Molloy said. He is looking to talk about that state-wide in a more marketed way, to really build some momentum about what is being done.
“I’m very interested in Rutgers going from good to great,” Molloy said. “We're trying to be a Big Ten University like Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Minnesota or Penn State. That includes sports, but that really includes all the academics that go with it.”