If there is a candidate who is ideally qualified to oversee the administration of Rutgers University–New Brunswick, that person is Christopher J. Molloy. Recently appointed as interim chancellor of the flagship, Molloy PHARM’77, GSNB’87 has a long and varied history with Rutgers as a student and executive. More than 40 years ago, Molloy received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Rutgers–New Brunswick and, 10 years later, his doctoral degree from the joint Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Graduate Program in Toxicology. Molloy went on to have a successful career in senior research and management positions at Johnson & Johnson, 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. 

Molloy returned to Rutgers in 2007 to serve as dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. In 2011, he was appointed interim provost for biomedical and health sciences and successfully led the complex integration of most of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers in 2013 to form Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, serving as its interim chancellor. Up until his recent appointment, Molloy was leading the Office of Research and Economic Development, which oversees the university’s more than $700 million in annual research expenditures and its research innovation through patents, start-ups, and the transfer of technologies to industry. Molloy, who holds a faculty position as Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is associated with the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society for Biochemistry and  Molecular Biology, and American Pharmacists Association. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2016. 

The first in his family to attend college and the eldest of four brothers, Molloy grew up in Livingston, New Jersey, and attended Livingston High School. Upon visiting Rutgers as a high school junior, he knew he wanted in, setting in motion a career of successes that led him to be named interim chancellor of Rutgers–New Brunswick. Molloy says he is still in somewhat of a state of disbelief that he holds this position. But, working from the desk that was once used by former Rutgers president Edward J. Bloustein, the man who transformed Rutgers–New Brunswick into a major research university, is a constant reminder of his responsibility and optimism for Rutgers.

Christopher J. Molloy 1977 graduation


Christopher J. Molloy receives his diploma from Rutgers University–New Brunswick in 1977. He returned to the university in 2007 and has held several administrative positions.

courtesy Christopher J. Molloy

RUTGERS MAGAZINE: For alumni with whom you graduated in 1977 and who have not been back to Rutgers, what would you tell them about the place?

CHRISTOPHER J. MOLLOY: When I graduated, Rutgers–New Brunswick was a federation of smaller colleges. But just in the last six years alone, the university has undergone a massive transformation, with the impetus of taking Rutgers from being a very good university to making it a great one. We’re building a Big Ten research university in the state of New Jersey with outstanding academics and outstanding health care. It will serve our students and society with its research. And the innovations that we produce will spin out to form new companies and jobs, and not just in the life sciences but across the spectrum of expertise that Rutgers has. Alumni should be aware that we continue to emphasize our strengths in the humanities, in areas such as mathematics, English, and philosophy.

RM: Rutgers–New Brunswick looks different, too.

CM: The College Avenue campus has really changed since my days, with things like the new Honors College and additional academic and residential buildings. The Livingston campus is different, totally changing the dynamic on that side of the Raritan River. Busch campus has successfully and steadily expanded, with a new chemistry building and engineering building. Rutgers 2030 is a physical master plan designed to transform all the campuses at Rutgers–New Brunswick in many ways. 

RM: What is your sense of the students attending Rutgers today?

CM: They are terrific, as good as or probably better than the students who were here during my time. I’m not even sure I could get into the pharmacy school today [laughing]. The GPAs and SAT scores for pharmacy students and honors students are pretty mind-bending. The students seem to be a bit more serious than when I was going to Rutgers. They are serious about school and getting a job. So, a lot of our effort outside the classroom is to improve the coordination so that students can get job experience through internships while still in school. This is something I really want to focus on. Companies are increasingly recognizing the talent that we are producing at Rutgers.

RM: You have held several significant administrative roles here, making you well suited for your new position.

CM: My becoming an administrator didn’t come necessarily by plan. I was  a strong scientist and enjoyed running research groups as a postdoctoral student and then when I entered the pharmaceutical industry. It happened that I got selected for leadership roles because I had that quality of knowing how to manage teams. This kind of aptitude and experience is very useful in the administrative roles you find at a big university. 

It’s especially useful for me to be in this role because, given my experience bringing Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences on and its impact on Rutgers–New Brunswick, I understand how the greater university can work closely with it and align the research and educational opportunities. I can facilitate the research effort and make it much more seamless.

Molloy with students during Move-In Day


Molloy, standing to the left of the Scarlet Knight, and Salvador B. Mena, the vice chancellor for student affairs, right, team up with student volunteers Priyanka Tiwari, left, and Sarah Park to greet students during move-in day at B.E.S.T. (Busch Engineering, Science, and Technology) Hall at Rutgers–New Brunswick.

John O'Boyle

RM: How would you describe your management style?

CM: I have always had the ability to bring people together and to help them see the bigger picture. I’m a consensus-builder. I like to build teams of talented people who are smart, knowledgeable, and experts in their fields. I take their advice in a collective way, oversee the problem-solving in a group, and then make a decision. I want the people on the team to see how this decision is the effective way to move forward. It’s not about individuals here; it’s about the greater good. 

RM: President Robert Barchi and you worked together during the enormous task of integrating most of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers to form the division Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. The relationship you formed must be advantageous now.

CM: I found President Barchi to be an excellent partner during that experience, and he and I are very much aligned in making Rutgers go from very good to great. We share a vision for what Rutgers should become.

RM: You love sports, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Your paternal grandfather was John “Honey” Russell, the first coach of the Boston Celtics, legendary coach of Seton Hall in the 1950s and ’60s, and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

CM: When I was a kid, he would take me around and introduce me to famous athletes like Hank Aaron. So, I am a big supporter of sports at Rutgers. Our basketball coaches are terrific. We had those great teams back when I was here. I am telling you, we are only a year  or two away from having that success again. 

Patrick Hobbs, the athletic director, is cognizant of pursuing great academic achievement among our student-athletes, who are competing in a program that is clean and hopefully very successful. 

RM: You are clearly very optimistic about Rutgers.

CM: There are a lot of things moving in the right direction. And we need the support of our alumni, and I invite them to visit and take a close look, because it is really exciting times here right now. •