How One University Harnessed Internal Knowledge and Expertise to Effectively Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Brent Ruben Rutgers University
  • Antonio Calcado
  • Vincent Gracias
  • Jennifer St. Pierre
  • Brian Strom



covid-19, pandemic, vaccination requirement, higher education, collaborative leadership, crisis management, crisis communication, information management, rapid institutional change, population health


This case history provides a snapshot of the leadership and organizational context that supported a bold and collaborative decision-making process at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, highlighting the importance of a disciplined approach to information and communication that takes full advantage of internal resources and expertise. Rutgers was the first university in the United States to make and announce a decision to require COVID-19 vaccination of all students for fall 2021. The decision to protect the university community with a mandated vaccination effort was the cumulative result of more than a year’s effort to sustain a campus environment that maintained some of the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates in the country. From the outset, the announcement triggered extensive media coverage, an outpouring of reactions, and considerable debate that placed the university in the national spotlight. The university relied on its core values, internal subject-matter experts, information and communication resources, and collaborative leadership to guide, implement, and disseminate decisions. The successful health and safety outcomes that have resulted are no small feat when considering New Jersey and New York were the epicenter for the first east coast surge of the American COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020.



27 Jan 2022



Special issue on University of the Future