RU Professors Were Among the Winners in the Latest National Book Critics Circle Awards

The National Book Critics Circle Awards  for 2020 were announced late last week, with awards for literature published in the U.S. in six categories (criticism, fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography and poetry) as well as three annual prizes. The winners in the main categories included two Rutgers University professors. Nicole Fleetwood, a professor of American studies and art history in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-New Brunswick won in the criticism category for “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” and poet Cathy Park Hong, a professor in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Rutgers-Newark won in the autobiography category for her memoir, “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning.”

Fleetwood’s book, based on interviews with incarcerated people and their families, prison staff, activists and other observers, explores the importance of people in prison creating art as a means to survive incarceration. In her acceptance speech given during a virtual ceremony on March 25, Fleetwood talked about her cousins who had been incarcerated and had shared their stories and experiences with her. “There has never been a time in my life when prison didn’t hover as a real and present threat over us,” she wrote in “Marking Time.” Justin Rosier, chair of the criticism committee, described her book as “a blistering critique of the penal system and ultimately a testament to human flourishing in spite of it.’’

Hong said she started writing her memoir when she was pregnant because she wanted a better world for her daughter. READ MORE

Quizzing Cousins – in a New Q&A Feature Column – Seek Your Opinion

The Highland Park cousins hit the streets – actually during COVID they go to their screens and telephones- to find friends and relatives and neighbors and teachers who are willing to answer a simple topical question each week.  This week the interviewees are mostly family members, but in subsequent weeks, the Quizzing Cousins hope to branch out.  So check your phones and emails for messages. The reporters are Lily Solomon, HPMS 8th grade; Harry Solomon HPMS 6th grade; Rubin Hersh HPMS 6th grade; and Ilana Hersh Bartle 4th grade. We start this feature with a question about the pandemic, which has upended lives all over the world. In New Jersey as of Feb. READ MORE

Reformed Church of Highland Park Wins Prestigious DCA/HUD Grant for Affordable Housing Rental Project

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced that nine New Jersey organizations were awarded a total of $6.3 million in federal Housing Trust Fund (HTF) monies to create rental housing for extremely low-income individuals and families. The federal funding that DCA receives comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Reformed Church of Highland Park was one of the nine New Jersey projects to win a grant for the acquisition and substantial rehabilitation of three rental units. “Governor Murphy and I are working everyday to make New Jersey a place where housing is more affordable and accessible for everyone regardless of income level,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “These nine projects will certainly help individuals and families who are most in need find stable, safe housing that has a positive effect on their quality of life. READ MORE

Renowned RU Professor is Honored with a Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citation

Long-time Rutgers professor and extension agent Dr. Mel Henninger was recognized with a Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citation by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture during the virtual New Jersey State Agricultural Convention recently.“Mel Henninger’s significant contributions to New Jersey agriculture have made major impacts on how we grow produce,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “He is known and highly respected across the country for his in-depth knowledge of potatoes and the availability of his expertise, experience and insight to farmers here has heightened the Garden State’s production and agricultural reputation.”

Dr. Henninger graduated from Penn State University with a degree in agronomy and he returned there to earn his Masters and Ph.D. in agronomy as well. Before being a professor emeritus for the last 10 years at Rutgers, he spent 391/2 years of his career as an extension specialist in vegetable crops at Rutgers. His career included nine years as Department Chair.“Working with my fellow Rutgers staff and agents for the farmers in New Jersey has allowed me to have a very rewarding and satisfying career,” Dr. Henninger said. “Receiving this honor is especially significant to me. READ MORE

Rutgers University’s “Earth Day Every Day!” Spring 2021 Series Begins March 8

Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s “Earth Day Every Day” educational webinar series is back for Spring 2021. Open to the public, these free sessions focus on steps everyone can take to protect the environment. We can all do our part to take actions that make our homes more sustainable, from starting a native plant garden, to protecting local watersheds, to choosing the right trees for your property. These actions, more than ever, start at home. The 2020 series was a success with more than 2,900 people from all 21 counties in New Jersey in attendance, as well as representation from 30 other states. READ MORE

Rutgers Astrophysicist Will Use the New Webb Space Telescope to Determine Star Formation in Two Galaxies

Rutgers Professor Kristen McQuinn, an astrophysicist based on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus, has an out-of-this-world stake in the new James Webb Space Telescope. In her opinion, the Webb Telescope will be a giant leap forward in our understanding of the universe. The large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror is scheduled to be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana this fall, according to NASA. The Webb Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the universe’s history, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our Solar System. READ MORE

Celebrate Women Artists at the Zimmerli – Marking Women’s History Month with a Virtual Arts Reception on March 2

In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the Zimmerli Art Museum and Rutgers Global present Art After Hours: Women on View on March 2. The evening kicks off with a preview of Communism Through the Lens: Everyday Life Captured by Women Photographers in the Dodge Collection, led by Maria Garth, Dodge Fellow at the Zimmerli and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at Rutgers, who organized this upcoming exhibition. Garth will discuss works by Māra Brašmane, Zenta Dzividzinska, Olga Ignatovich, Valentina Kulagina, Lialia Kuznetsova, Olga Lander, Ann Tenno, and Natalia Tsekhomskaya. In addition, the program spotlights five women artists from other areas of the museum’s collections in honor of the annual #5WomenArtists campaign. This Zoom event is free and open to the public, with registration details at READ MORE

How Are Highland Park’s Students Holding Up Under the Stress of this Pandemic Year?

This article is reprinted from the Feb. 19, 2021 edition of NJ Spotlight News and was written by NJ Spotlight Founding Editor John Mooney

NJ students resilient in pandemic, but some show signs of mental health stress

Much has been said about a potential mental health crisis among schoolchildren nationwide, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and looming ahead as students return to schools. NJ Spotlight News on Monday plans to host a panel discussion on the challenge in New Jersey and how — and if — schools are providing adequate support and other services, such as counseling. The New Jersey School Boards Association recently released a report on the experiences so far in the state and school leaders’ impression of the extent of the problem. The fourth of six reports by the association on the pandemic’s effects on education, it found that more than half of school board members, administrators and educators surveyed said they were seeing the pandemic’s effects on their students’ mental health. READ MORE

Ice Storm Mess Expected to Hit New Jersey on Feb. 15 and 16 – Just in Time for School Reopening

Just as the Highland Park School District was hoping for the restoration of in-person classes on Tuesday, February 16th, a wintry mess is expected to greet students, parents, teachers and administrators. An ice storm warning and winter weather advisory were issued across New Jersey for a prolonged wintry mess that’s expected to hit the Garden State on Monday and last well past the Tuesday commute. At this time, it is unclear as to the impact on the school opening. As of Sunday, February 14, Irving, Bartle, the middle, and high schools will be open for teaching and learning on Tuesday, February 16. Students returning for in-person school should follow instructions provided by their principals. READ MORE

Vaccinations Arrive at Pharmacies but Appointments Fill Up Immediately

Governor Murphy and NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced on February 10th press conference that doses of the coronavirus vaccine will arrive at Rite Aid and CVS locations across New Jersey on February 11th  and 12th. CVS will receive 19,900 doses of the vaccine through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, while Rite Aid should receive around 7,500 doses, Murphy said during his Wednesday news conference. Rite Aid has yet to announce pharmacy locations as of Thursday, but consumers should keep checking.

 CVS confirmed the location of stores that will receive the vaccine (see below). At CVS, patients must register in advance at

or through the CVS Pharmacy app. READ MORE