Peter J. McDonough is the senior vice president for external affairs at Rutgers.


Peter J. McDonough is the senior vice president for external affairs at Rutgers.

Benoit Cortet

It was a proud day at Rutgers University–Newark on May 9, when Governor Phil Murphy came to the university to enact legislation that provides undocumented students access to state financial aid programs like Tuition Aid Grants and Educational Opportunity Funds. Rutgers was the lead institution advocating for the bill, and we were gratified to be recognized by the new governor. He could have gone anywhere, but he came to Rutgers. The governor and N.J. State Senator Teresa Ruiz, one of the bill’s prime sponsors, praised Rutgers for supporting Dreamers before there was a law and before there was a name associated with these children.

Rutgers has indeed been a national leader on Dreamer issues. The Rutgers community sent more than 35,000 letters to federal legislators in support of bipartisan legislation that would put an end to the legal limbo of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Rutgers chancellors—Debasish Dutta, of Rutgers University–New Brunswick; Brian Strom, of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; Nancy Cantor, of Rutgers University–Newark; and Phoebe Haddon, of Rutgers University–Camden—have provided welcoming places for all New Jersey residents to grow, learn, and contribute to the fabric that defines Rutgers.

President Robert Barchi has funded the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Program, which offers all undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students access to free and confidential legal information and consultation as well as guidance on immigration issues. Barchi and the Rutgers chancellors are also members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which brings together university leaders wishing to heighten the public’s understanding of how immigration policies affect students, campuses, and communities. Cantor is a member of the group’s steering committee.

Yes, Rutgers was there even before there was a law. It’s nice to be noticed.