Announcing Rutgers Reads 2018 and “Beyond the Classroom” Grant Support

Sent Friday, June 22, 2018

To the Campus Community:

During the past few years, our Rutgers Reads program has provided incoming first-year students with a shared, intellectually engaging experience that also serves as an introduction to academic life at Rutgers University–Camden. Each year, a small committee convenes to discuss and decide on a selection, which is then incorporated into the English and writing curriculum for all first-year undergraduate students. The Office of New Student Programs provides these incoming students with a copy of the Rutgers Reads book before they begin their first semester at Rutgers University–Camden.

The Rutgers Reads committee, together with the Department of English, is pleased to announce that the 2018 Rutgers Reads common read is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. The 2016 recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Whitehead’s novel brilliantly recounts the story of the harrowing journey to freedom taken by many in the antebellum South by transforming the metaphorical “underground railroad” of history into a literal railroad with secret tracks and stops below the earth. It is one of the most inspiring and illuminating narratives exploring this period of our nation’s history.

Students in the first-year writing program at Rutgers University–Camden will read The Underground Railroad at the start of the fall semester. On Wednesday, Sept. 26, our campus will welcome author Colson Whitehead for a full day of interaction with our students, culminating in a public lecture at 7 p.m.

In 2017, Rutgers Reads selected Hidden Figures and welcomed author Margot Lee Shetterly to campus for a public lecture before a full Gordon Theater. We are planning now to meet and exceed that level of energy, visibility, and opportunity for our students.

To that end, I am pleased to announce that I am making available a series of small “Beyond the Classroom” grants to encourage cross-departmental and co-curricular programming in connection with The Underground Railroad. Information about the grants is accessible from our Rutgers Reads website.

Rutgers Reads provides an exceptional opportunity for our new undergraduate students to connect with one another and our campus while becoming acclimated to the academic rigor of Rutgers University–Camden. I thank Dr. William FitzGerald (associate professor, FASC-English) and the entire Rutgers Reads committee for this impressive contribution to our campus life.

Phoebe A. Haddon, J.D., LL.M.

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