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Roxane Gay, author and cultural critic, to teach at Rutgers

Roxane Gay, the renowned cultural critic and author, will join Rutgers University in the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in media, culture and feminist studies. The appointment was announced at the university’s Board of Governors meeting Tuesday.

“I walk and work in the footsteps of the many feminists and womanists who came before me, and Gloria is one of the giants among those women,” Gay said. “I look forward to joining and contributing to a vibrant intellectual community both on and beyond campus.”

The chair is a collaboration among the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, the Institute for Women’s Leadership, and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies within the School of Arts and Sciences.

Jonathan Potter, the outgoing dean of the School of Communication and Information, called Gay “incisive, analytic, disruptive, and comfortable challenging conditions of all kinds.”

“What a perfect match for Rutgers,” he said. “I look forward to seeing her stir up the thinking of the next generation of students.”

Dafna Lemish, the school’s incoming interim dean, called Gay’s appointment timely. “[S]he serves as a wonderful role model of resilience, dedication to social justice, and the value of being community-engaged,” Lemish said. “I have no doubt that Roxane will be inspirational and transformative for our campus.”

Gay’s books include Ayiti, An Untamed State, Difficult Womenand New York Times bestsellers, Bad feminist and Hunger. A university spokeswoman said she would teach, participate in public events, and lead workshops on cultural criticism, trauma, creating change, and writing across diverse perspectives.

Gay has also taught at Yale University, Occidental College, Michigan Technological University, Florida Atlantic University, Eastern Illinois University and Purdue University.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Gay noted she would not be leaving Los Angeles. She lives in Los Angeles and New York.

Gay’s chair, a three-year appointment, was first held by climate justice advocate Naomi Klein. Gay will be paid $250,000 a year, the university spokeswoman said.

The endowed chair made headlines in 2017 when media mogul Harvey Weinstein, who donated $100,000 to the $3 million endowment campaign, came under fire for sexual harassment and assault. Rutgers chose to keep the donation, made in honor of Weinstein’s mother.

“We think devoting these funds to advance women’s equality is a better use of the dollars returning than the donation to Harvey Weinstein and the H. Weinstein Family Foundation,” Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin said at the time.

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Tina Kelly may be reached at tkelley@njadvancemedia.com.