Rutgers-Newark provost resigns in a
quest to return to teaching

Announcement comes within week of Lawrence's decision to leave

Friday, February 08, 2002

Star-Ledger Staff

Less than one week after Rutgers University's president announced his
resignation, the head of the state university's Newark campus surprised
the school yesterday by announcing he will step down at the end of the

Norman Samuels, 64, said he will give up the Rutgers-Newark provost's
job to return to teaching. After 20 years in the job, he said it was time for
a new generation of leadership on the university's second-largest campus.

"At a certain point I think it's the right thing to do," Samuels said. "It's
time to have somebody new."

The former political science professor had been considering leaving the
$177,000-a-year post to return to the faculty for years. But when he
prepared to announce his resignation last year, Rutgers University
President Francis Lawrence insisted the well-liked provost he stay on.

"I said, 'I'm getting old,'" Samuels said. "He just bullied me and talked me
out of it."

This year, Lawrence did not protest when Samuels again raised the idea
of resigning. The Rutgers president was engaged in his own struggle with
Gov. James E. McGreevey. Sources close to the Governor said
McGreevey made it known last fall he wanted a new president at Rutgers
and helped force Lawrence's resignation.

Lawrence, 64, announced Feb. 1 he would step down after 12 years in
office and return to the faculty as soon as a successor is found. Samuels
said he waited weeks to announce he too was resigning because he did
not want it to look like he was "jumping ship" while Lawrence's job was in

"There is no connection between the two," Samuels said.

Rutgers officials said losing Samuels on the heals of Lawrence's
resignation is a blow. The state university now must organize dual
searches to fill two of its top jobs. However, university officials are
considering placing an interim provost in Samuels' job until a new Rutgers
president is chosen and can select his or her own provost, according to
sources close to the search process.

Lawrence praised Samuels in a written statement yesterday and said he
accepted his resignation with "profound regret."

"His resignation as provost is a great personal loss for me and for all of his
colleagues on the president's Cabinet. His wisdom, understanding, and
courage have been of tremendous benefit, not just to Rutgers-Newark, but
also to the progress of the university as a whole," Lawrence wrote.

"Dr. Samuels has been a great friend and a valued colleague. He has
done a phenomenal job for us and will be sorely missed," the president

Born in Montreal, Samuels received his undergraduate degree from McGill
University in Canada and a master's and doctorate from Duke University.
He arrived at Rutgers-Newark to teach political science in 1967, just as
the city was erupting in race riots.

On his first day of summer school, he arrived by train at Penn Station and
found the National Guard lining the streets. "I said to myself, 'What am I
getting into?'" Samuels recalled.

But he stuck around. Within a few years, Samuels was drafted to serve as
an administrator, rising from associate dean to dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences and finally to provost in 1982. He is credited with building
the reputation of Rutgers-Newark's academic departments and helping in
the city's revival.

Samuels helped bring the city's four colleges -- Rutgers, New Jersey
Institute of Technology, Essex County College and the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey -- together to form a coalition that
fought to sell Newark as a college town.

NJIT President Saul Fenster, who also recently announced his retirement,
said the mild-mannered, good-humored Samuels was well-liked even as
he fought for change.

"You're not going to find anyone to say anything negative, but at the same
time he was an activist," said Fenster.

Samuels and his wife, Sandra, will remain in their house in West Orange.
The couple have four grown children. Sandra Samuels, a physician in the
Rutgers-Newark's student health center, will remain in her job.

Samuels said he is unsure what political science courses he will teach
after more than 20 years out of the classroom.

"It's kind of scary," he said. "But I was a good teacher once, and I'm going
to be a good teacher again."

Kelly Heyboer covers higher education. She can be reached at or (973) 392-5929.

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