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Division of Student Affairs
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Hiring of Reverend Katrina Jenkins Highlights Faith and Spirituality Initiative at Rutgers—New Brunswick

Douglass Campus Interfaith Room
Interfaith Meditation Room at Douglass Student Center
Jack Ouligian

For many years, the Division of Student Affairs at Rutgers University—New Brunswick did not have a staff member dedicated to addressing students’ spiritual needs. Now, it’s taking steps to prioritize faith and spirituality at Rutgers.

In June, Rutgers hired Reverend Katrina Jenkins as its assistant dean for faith and spirituality initiatives. Jenkins is a veteran multi-faith reverend, with experience in higher education institutions in Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts, over the past 20+ years. 

“In divinity school, we had to do field education opportunities, and I worked as a social justice intern in interfaith programming,” said Jenkins, who also has experience in community-based faith work. “I had originally thought that I was going to be a pastor, but as I continued having these encounters with students from different faith backgrounds, I just started recognizing that I loved doing things like this.” 

At Rutgers, Jenkins is not starting from zero. The Student Centers have multi-faith rooms where students can pray throughout the day, and Rutgers has an ongoing partnership with Interfaith America, one of the nation’s biggest interfaith organizations. Student Affairs has established relationships with local faith organizations, including campus chaplaincies, and Jenkins also arrives in the midst of a Rutgers—New Brunswick Interfaith Strategic Plan, which will guide the direction of multi-faith development at Rutgers over the next few years. 

“Right now, I’m trying to get to know as many people as I can,” said Jenkins. “There’s already an audience here for this work, and I’m going to be looking at what structures make the most sense for religious and spiritual life on campus.” 

“We need to be advocates in the sense that students know that they can come to us when something’s going on, whether that is something spiritual, faith-based, or something unrelated,” she continued. “If we have a developed mission and vision, we can pull all of the moving parts of structure, programming and support together into one cohesive whole.” 

The hiring of Jenkins, as well as the implementation of the interfaith strategic plan, represents a big step forward for Rutgers in serving their students of faith. 

“It’s taken us a while to get here,” said Kerri Willson, the associate dean of students and the director of off-campus and community initiatives. “I’ve been at Rutgers for 19 years, and some folks used to think that, since we were a state institution, we shouldn’t talk about religion.” 

“People now see our work around faith and spirituality issues as key to help support smaller pockets of communities, to make students feel better-connected to the university, and to help them be successful while they’re here.”  

While support for this work may have been sparse in earlier years, it is now reflected in all levels of Student Affairs leadership.

“Students don’t leave their faith and spirituality at the door when they come to Rutgers,” said Dr. Anne Newman, who serves as the associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs and the dean of students. “We want to support all of our students in every way that we can, and that includes their identity development through their faith and spirituality.”

Dr. Newman also emphasized the importance of having a dedicated person to support students, as opposed to sharing the responsibility among others doing other work.

“Reverend Jenkins’ presence will let us collaborate, work on programs together, and students will know that being a person of faith or having spirituality on a college campus is just as important for your wellness and well-being as walking every day,” she said. “It’s a part of who you are, and we recognize, support, and celebrate who you are as a person.”

Looking ahead, the interfaith strategic plan calls for greater collaboration with other university departments, more engagement with students, and the eventual creation of a Faith & Spirituality Center, as well as the hiring of additional staff.

“There are a lot of moving parts at Rutgers, and we should pull those moving parts into one cohesive whole where people now have faith and spirituality,” Jenkins said. “We can be a service not only to students, but to staff and faculty, and we can build a structure of programming and support for the Rutgers community.”

To get in touch with Reverend Jenkins, you can email her at