Antonio D. Tillis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Antonio D. Tillis
Academic background
EducationVanderbilt University (BS)
Howard University (MA)
University of Missouri (PhD)
Academic work
DisciplineAfrican-American studies
Latino studies
Sub-disciplineAfrican-American culture
Latin American culture
Afro-Latino culture
Afro-Latino literature
Latin American literature
InstitutionsDartmouth College
College of Charleston
Purdue University
University of Houston–Downtown
Rutgers University-Camden
Chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden
Assumed office
July 2021
Preceded byMargaret Marsh
President of the University of Houston–Downtown
In office
July 2020 – July 2021
Preceded byJuan Sánchez Muñoz

Antonio D. Tillis is an American academic administrator currently serving as the chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden. He assumed office on July 1, 2021. Only a few months later, faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences voted no confidence in him, criticizing Tillis for having "“grievously injured the College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-Camden” and having “seriously eroded the trust of its faculty in his leadership.”[1]


Tillis has contributed articles to several academic publications, including The Afro-Hispanic Reader and Anthology, Callaloo, Hispania, Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, CA, and Transit Circle. He co-authored The Trayvon Martin in US: An American Tragedy and edited Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature. Tillis served as the dean of the School of Languages, Culture & World Affairs at the College of Charleston. He also chair of the Latin American and Latino studies department at Purdue University. He was also the chair of the African and African-American studies department at Dartmouth College.[2] Tillis joined the University of Houston–Downtown as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. He was selected by trustees of the University of Houston System to serve as interim president on July 2, 2020.[3] On April 27, 2021, Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway announced that Tillis would assume the post of chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden on July 1, 2021.

Tillis' research focuses on Hispanism, African-American studies, Latino studies, African-American culture, Latin American culture, Afro-Latino culture and literature,[4] and Latin American literature.[5]


Tillis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Spanish from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Arts in Spanish literature from Howard University, and a PhD in Latin American literature from the University of Missouri.[6]

Controversy and No-Confidence Vote[edit]

The no-confidence vote, which has rarely occurred at the university, arose because of Tillis' sudden dismissal of Howard Marchitello, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean at Rutgers—Camden. The decision sparked widespread controversy and apprehension among faculty, graduate workers, students, and staff. Marchitello's abrupt removal was purportedly tied to his vocal criticism of ongoing university pay equity issues. Camden professors argued that they receive lower pay compared to their peers at Rutgers’ New Brunswick and Newark campuses.

During a Faculty Senate meeting on November 1st, Marchitello said it was possible that his termination was a result of public remarks he had made regarding the "structural and chronic underinvestment" in the Camden Campus.[7] Rebecca Givan, president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union, highlighted the university's lack of sufficient investment in the campus, which predominantly serves students from lower-income backgrounds, making them "feel like second-class citizens, and that matters."[8] According to an official statement from the AAUP-AFT, “years of underfunding and neglect because of top-down central administration policies … are seen and felt every day in Camden: meager course offerings, deteriorating dorms and classrooms, inadequate equipment and supplies.”[9] These circumstances contributed to the occurrence of the 2023 Rutgers University strike.

Marchitello also disclosed that he was instructed by his superiors on multiple occasions to refrain from discussing the pay equity program with faculty, despite his pivotal role in the recommendation process.[10] According to Keith Green, director of Africana Studies at Rutgers-Camden and associate professor of English, the dean's dismissal is reflective of a style of leadership that disregards the concerns and viewpoints of Rutgers-Camden students and faculty. “We are the most under-resourced campus within the Rutgers system, and we need a chancellor that will champion us, not punch down on us,” said Green. “We need a chancellor who favors input and reflection, not top-down decisions or outside consultants.” [11]

Enrollment Decline[edit]

Under Tillis' chancellorship, Rutgers’ Camden campus experienced a decline in first-year enrollment of over 30 percent, the largest drop of any university in the country, according to a September 2022 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Though many universities have faced a decline…. since the pandemic… no drop has been as large as that of the University’s Camden campus.” In contrast, the Newark campus experienced a decrease of only 8.2 percent while New Brunswick’s rate increased by 9.9 percent and the overall University’s first-year enrollment increased by 3.3 percent.[12] According to a university report, the campus had a total of 3,928 undergraduates in 2023, down 32% from a seven-year peak of 5,776 in 2018.[13] At a board of governors’ meeting in September 2022, Tillis admitted that enrollments “are not where we would like them to be.”[14]


  1. ^ "'A Long Path Ahead of Us'". Retrieved 2023-10-11.
  2. ^ "Antonio D. Tillis". Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  3. ^ "Dr. Antonio D. Tillis Ready to Support Gator Community as UHD's Interim President". Dr. Antonio D. Tillis Ready to Support Gator Community as UHD's Interim President. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  4. ^ Gilliam, Doris; Tillis, Antonio (2012). "Review of (Re)considering Blackness in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian (Con)texts, TillisAntonio". Obsidian. 13 (1): 147–152. ISSN 2161-6140. JSTOR 26390275.
  5. ^ Tillis, Antonio D. (2012-04-23). Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-66255-3.
  6. ^ "Interim President Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D. | University of Houston-Downtown". Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  7. ^ "After abrupt firing of Rutgers—Camden dean, U. community raises concerns with chancellor" |url=
  8. ^ "' First-year and transfer enrollment at Rutgers-Camden is down 27%, and faculty are concerned".
  9. ^ "' Rutgers-Camden Deserves Equity and Respect" (PDF).
  10. ^ "' After abrupt firing of Rutgers—Camden dean, U. community raises concerns with chancellor".
  11. ^ "' Rutgers-Camden Faculty Vote No Confidence in Chancellor and Provost".
  12. ^ "' Special report: Enrollment rates drop drastically at Camden, Newark campuses".
  13. ^ "' As undergrad enrollment slips, Rutgers-Camden plans to push harder with potential area students".
  14. ^ "' Enrollment at area colleges is increasing, although many still aren't at pre-pandemic levels".