President's Message on Rutgers' 250th Anniversary
November 10, 2016
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff of Rutgers:
On this day in 1766, a charter was signed to establish an institution of higher learning in New Jersey to be named Queen’s College. Our founders envisioned a college dedicated to, as stated in a subsequent charter, “the Education of Youth in the Learned Languages and in the Liberal and Useful Arts and Sciences.” Thus began the remarkable history of what we now call Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
For 250 years, Rutgers has been evolving. Although we are two and a half centuries old, our history is filled with new beginnings. Much of our vitality lies in the constant agitation for change, for growth, for advancement:
The quest to become New Jersey’s land-grant university.
The development of a college for women—and later coeducational learning.
The expansion into a statewide presence, welcoming Rutgers University–Newark and Rutgers University–Camden.
The transition to a public state university and emergence as a major public research institution.
The creation of dozens of different schools—and the merger of a few.
The fight for access and opportunity that began with student protests and led to such rich diversity.
The opening of Rutgers programs on other continents.
The integration of a major biomedical division and now the establishment of Rutgers Health.
Again and again we have made our mark on this nation’s history. We are the alma mater of men and women who have served bravely in wartime, who have fought for civil rights, whose medical discoveries have saved countless lives, whose entrepreneurial spirit has created innumerable jobs, whose creativity has produced memorable art, literature, and cinema, whose public service has brought America and the world forward. And I’m enormously proud to say that we continue to be a place of opportunity for so many who are the first in their family to attend college.
Today we celebrate our unique place in American higher education not only with fanfare and fireworks but also with the force of ideas. We have asked dozens of our most accomplished graduates to return here today to speak with our community on A Day of Revolutionary Thinking. We look forward to their talks and wish to thank them for so capably representing the more than half-million individuals who have earned a Rutgers degree over the years.
We have much to be proud of and many reasons to celebrate the leaders and doers and heroes who have shaped the history of Rutgers. We have all the motivation in the world to honor their spirit by working together to make our University stronger in the years ahead.
Whether you have been at Rutgers for months, years, or decades, you are part of our story. You have contributed to the richness of our history and—more important—the enormous potential of our future. I hope you will celebrate with us. Please consult today’s schedule of events and join us in marking this milestone occasion. Watch the fireworks—in person or online—and look for images of the Empire State Building, which will be lit in scarlet to honor us tonight. I also recommend that you read our spectacular 250th Anniversary issue of Rutgers Magazine, in print or online.
Happy Anniversary, Rutgers. Let’s make the coming years equally historic!