Dey Cantor traffic accident

Video from Rutgers University police shows former University of Illinois Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s exchange with officers in March.

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Former University of Illinois Chancellor Nancy Cantor is back in the news again — and not in a good way.

Now chancellor of Rutgers University’s Newark campus, the ever-high-strung higher-ed official went ballistic when university policy officers treated her like an ordinary citizen after the car in which she was riding was involved in a minor traffic accident.

There were no injuries and no damage caused when Cantor’s driver tapped the rear bumper of a campus police SUV.

When police were called to the scene to make a report of what happened, “Nasty Nancy” became enraged, demanding to be allowed to leave immediately because she was on her way to the airport. She and one of the two female passengers riding with her proceeded to berate police officers, at times conducting separate arguments with separate police officers in which they demanded Cantor be allowed to go before police were done.

Here’s what’s interesting. The accident occurred in March, with no one the wiser about Cantor’s intemperate behavior but insiders with access to video recorded by the officers’ body cameras.

Somehow, someway, the video featuring an angry Cantor threatening police officers with reprisals magically found its way to a local television station.

“The chancellor suddenly had a change of heart after a local media station acquired the police footage,” one news outlet reported.

“The chancellor just recently saw the video of the incident from several months ago and reached out to the officers with an apology. They have responded with appreciation for her sentiments,” Rutgers-Newark said in a statement.”

Rutgers’ PR mavens moved quickly to put the controversy to bed.

“The chancellor saw the video, apologized, and her apology was accepted by those involved. There is really nothing to add to that,” said Rutgers’ Senior Vice President Peter McDonough.

Maybe, maybe not.

The New York Post picked up the story headlined, “Rutgers chancellor apologizes after being caught on video berating campus cops.”

The video catches the volatile Cantor at her ugly best.

Seething, checking her watch, striding the sidewalk and speaking loudly to whomever was closest to her, Cantor was consistently unpleasant.

An obviously nervous, female Rutgers University officer tried to commiserate with Cantor.

“I understand, I understand,” the officer said.

“You DON’T understand,” Cantor angrily replied.

“I’m just trying to do my job. That’s it. ... I just can’t let it go. It’s not like I can just let it go,” the officer said.

The officer explained that she was waiting for a sergeant and a lieutenant to come to the scene to check out the situation, a position Cantor rejected as unnecessary because there was “absolutely no damage” caused by the traffic bump.

“If I miss my plane, you folks are in trouble,” Cantor told the officers.

Officers repeatedly tried to de-escalate the conversation. But Cantor was having none of it.

When another officer approached and said, “Hello, how are you?” Cantor unleashed her fury.

“I’m not well. I’m being held here from going to the airport,” she replied before repeating her prior threat.

“You folks are in trouble,” she said again.

Officers clearly were unaware who Cantor was, although they must have suspected it was a university bigshot.

At one point, an officer approached and asked, “I’m sorry — who are you?”

“I’m the chancellor,” Cantor yelled.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” he responded.

While Cantor walked in exasperation up and down the sidewalk complaining to no one and everyone, one of her cohorts explained to police why Cantor deserved special treatment.

“She’s on university business. Would you do that to the president of the United States? No, you wouldn’t. No, you wouldn’t,” Cantor’s companion said.

When an officer replied that they were simply following instructions from superiors and had to do their jobs, Cantor’s companion explained why they were wrong.

“No, you have to be thoughtful about doing your job, not just following rote. OK?,” Cantor’s companion said, explaining that officers “have to know who they’re dealing with.”Clearly flustered, officers tried to move the situation along while waiting for their superiors to arrive.

But when the female officer asked Cantor for identifying information, Cantor screamed “I wasn’t driving.”

She then went to one of his colleagues and explained that Cantor “won’t give me her passenger information.”

Ultimately, Cantor got the special treatment she demanded. Officers decided to take pictures of the collision point and allow Cantor, her two companions and the driver to leave the scene.

Before they departed, Cantor’s companion gave police another lecture on proper procedure that she punctuated with a command — “Listen” — when she suspected officers weren’t paying her proper heed.

“When you have somebody like (Cantor), you call (your superiors) and say, ‘What should we do? Should we follow protocol or should we do something else?’ That’s what you have should have done,” Cantor’s companion said.

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is

Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is