Not sure if an earlier email I sent reached you all, so apologies if you’ve already seen this.
Some of you may have heard by now that I notified Dean Lemish and Amy Jordan of my decision to leave Rutgers at the end of this month.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, have felt honored and privileged to be part of such a wonderful group of colleagues as all of you on the JMS faculty, and to have shared my journalism knowledge and experience with our terrific students. My fondest memories include the many well-attended campus-wide events I helped to organize (on Journalism in the Age of Trump, on Repression of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, on the 20th Anniversary of the World Trade Organization Protests and the Rise Indymedia Centers, and on Anti-Asian Violence). Most rewarding were the amazing ties that my wife Lilia and I established with New Brunswick’s Latino immigrant residents during the turbulent and ultimately unsuccessful community fight to save Lincoln Annex school, and my work representing Rutgers in the founding and establishment of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, a truly pioneering effort in preserving local media. But the achievement I take perhaps the deepest pride in was the top national prize for a college newspaper that a group of my students won from the Investigative Reporters and Editors association for their sensational series of investigative articles in the Daily Targum, “The COVID-19 Money Trail.”
When I joined the JMS staff in January 2017, however, my original intention was to serve only for three to five years. That time has now extended to six and a half years (though it seems only like yesterday that I retired from the Daily News). Some recent unexpected events, however have convinced me it is time to go. First, was my wife’s decision last year to accept an extraordinary position at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and thus our need to relocate to that city. While former Dean Potter and Dafna graciously agreed to an accommodation in my contract so that I could continue to remain on the Rutgers faculty, I’ve increasingly come to believe that a professor teaching remotely and not being a daily part of campus life does not serve the best interests of students or of building a vibrant academic community. Second, a very debilitating bout with pneumonia a month ago reinforced my wife’s repeated urgings that, at my age – I’ll be 76 in a few months – it is definitely time to reduce my workload and start to enjoy some form of at least semi-retirement. I’ve even begun a discussion with Amy Goodman about the need to wind down my work at Democracy Now, though that may take some more time accomplish. Meanwhile, Chicago’s progressive activist community rapidly welcomed us with open arms, and I somehow ended up recruited by newly-elected mayor Brandon Johnson as one of the volunteer co-chairs of his mayoral transition committee, despite being a total newcomer to the city. In addition, there are still have some big writing projects I want to tackle while I still can. So it’s looking like my plate will remain pretty full in semi-retirement.
My deepest thanks to each and every one of you for making me feel so welcomed at JMS, and especially to Steve Miller for all those wonderful conversations we so frequently had in the hallways and in his office about everything under the sun, including sports, as well as for his selfless guidance on navigating through the labyrinth of academia and his unflagging energy for all things Rutgers. I leave with nothing but fond memories of our time together and wish you all the greatest success in your future endeavors. And please don’t forget, whenever any of you pass through Chicago be sure to call or write so we can have a cup of coffee or a beer.
After June 30th, when my Rutgers email expires, you can always reach me at jgonzaleznahj(a)aol.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> or at juan(a)democracynow.org<mailto:email@example.com>