President’s 2015 Report to the University Senate

September 18, 2015


This year will mark the beginning of a milestone for Rutgers: the year-long celebration of our 250th anniversary that will kick off on November 10.  We have been working toward this celebratory event for three years, and I am proud of what we have already accomplished together. We have built strong momentum on many levels: as one of the top public comprehensive universities in the country, as a public institution engaged in academic and medical research of the highest order and noblest purposes, as a vital contributor to wellness, job creation, culture, and social progress in New Jersey and the nation, and as one of the best places for a gifted high school graduate to earn a college degree.

I have seen the excitement of rising 8th graders in our Rutgers Future Scholars program as they learn about the promise of a Rutgers education, tuition-free, if they work hard and earn their grades.  (More than 250 graduates of that program are now enrolled at Rutgers, including 93 first-year students.)  I have heard incredibly bright rising high school seniors in the Governor’s School of Engineering & Technology summer program tell me about their plans for applying to Rutgers.  I have talked with students accepted into the inaugural class of the Honors College in New Brunswick, and heard the sense of accomplishment and anticipation in their voices. And on the morning of Commencement in May, I saw the deep pride on the faces of parents whose sons and daughters were graduating with high honors and were now headed to prestigious graduate fellowships around the world. More and more gifted and dedicated students are choosing Rutgers. In the past admissions cycle, we drew more applications for seats in the incoming class than ever before, and our students’ academic profile continues to rise each year.

At the core of this momentum is the excellence of our faculty. Rutgers faculty members have continued to win election to prestigious academies and to earn recognition for their achievements across the widest range of academic disciplines, from ocean science to psychiatry, nursing to business to the history of language. Through honors programs across the system and resources like the Aresty Research Center, more and more of these faculty scholars are engaging undergraduate students in their research, exposing them to the rigors and satisfaction of discovering new knowledge.  This past year, Rutgers faculty accounted for more than a half-billion dollars in sponsored research and grants, placing Rutgers within the top 30 institutions in the nation in total research funding.  And they are called upon by government, industry, and nonprofits for their expertise, as we saw this past year when the Obama administration asked our Center on Violence Against Women and Children to pilot a survey on sexual violence, drawing upon the Center’s national leadership in research.

We have put many critical pieces in place over the past three years. Rutgers is working from the first University-wide strategic plan in nearly 20 years, a comprehensive document that resulted from a highly inclusive planning process, and complementary strategic plans are now in play in Newark, Camden, New Brunswick, and at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS).  Thanks to the input of many thousands of individuals in the Rutgers community, this year we completed a visionary physical master plan that both meets practical needs and stirs the imagination of students, faculty, staff, and alumni alike. We accepted an invitation into the Big Ten Conference and its Committee on Institutional Cooperation, fittingly aligning Rutgers with some of America’s most distinguished public research universities. And on the heels of a historic billion-dollar fundraising campaign, we achieved the highest single-year private giving total in our history.

In the midst of all this institutional progress, there have been special moments of immense pride for Rutgers.  Just two months ago, Rutgers graduate Carli Lloyd scored a phenomenal three goals in the World Cup championship game, leading the U.S. Women’s National Team to its third World Cup soccer title. A week later, alumnus and Cincinnati Reds star Todd Frazier won the Major League Baseball All-Star Game’s home run derby.  And last week we were thrilled to learn that professor emerita and geneticist Evelyn Witkin has won a share of the 2015 Lasker Award for her discoveries regarding the DNA-damage response, a fundamental mechanism that protects the genomes of all living organisms. The Lasker Award honors the contributions of scientists who have made significant contributions to the understanding, treatment, and prevention of human disease, and is often a precursor to a Nobel.

Buoyed by our milestone achievements, yet ever cognizant of the financial and administrative constraints that challenge us, we enter this historic anniversary year at Rutgers determined to complete the foundation required to achieve our aspiration: to be recognized as among the nation’s leading public universities—preeminent in research, excellent in teaching, and committed to community.


Our Outstanding Students

I am pleased to say that the academic desirability of a Rutgers education and the strength of our student body continues to grow. Rutgers deserves to be the top choice for students of the highest caliber, and we are seeing clear evidence that this is happening. In fact, in last year’s admission cycle, applications to Rutgers increased by 11 percent, including a 14 percent rise in out-of-state and 41 percent jump in international applications. Across all of Rutgers, the average SAT scores of incoming first-year students rose by 9 points over last year—and by 18 points at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS). On top of last year’s 11 point increase, Rutgers–New Brunswick has seen the SAT average of its incoming class increase by 40 points over the past three years. This year’s incoming Rutgers class includes more than 220 high school valedictorians or salutatorians, 84 Presidential Scholars with an average SAT score of 2305 out of 2400, and 114 Henry Rutgers Scholars with average SATs of 2170.

Of course, test scores are only one measure of great students and their potential success, and test scores can correlate with financial resources such that worthy but less fortunate students are disadvantaged. We continue to search for other measures of accomplishment and for students who show their potential in other ways.  I am particularly pleased that 2,400 members of our incoming class are the first in their family to attend college, and that 1,500 military veterans are enrolled at Rutgers.  Diversity in our student body remains a high priority. Of our first-year and new transfer students, 45 percent identify themselves as African American, Latino, or Asian.

Last year, Rutgers students continued to compete successfully for many of the most prestigious international scholarships. A record four of our rising seniors won Goldwater Scholarships, awarded for excellence in math, science, and engineering. Universities are permitted a maximum of four nominations, and Rutgers was one of only 10 institutions nationwide—alongside Stanford and MIT—to claim four Goldwaters in 2015.  Rutgers students also earned a Luce Scholarship (only 18 are awarded nationally per year) for the third consecutive year, and our second straight Mitchell Scholarship—a scholarship given to only 12 students across the country each year.

This past May, Francis and I inducted the first class of students into the Matthew Leydt Society, a new academic distinction named in honor of Rutgers’ first-ever graduate, to further recognize and celebrate our most accomplished graduating seniors. In a pre-graduation event for these students and their families held at the President’s House this past May, we launched the society with 150 graduates of Rutgers University–New Brunswick and RBHS.  Starting in 2016, the Matthew Leydt Society will welcome graduating students at Rutgers University–Camden and Rutgers University–Newark as well.

It is also important to measure our graduates’ success as they move on from Rutgers. One of the primary purposes of higher education, along with molding well-informed and responsible citizens, is to prepare students for successful careers and give them the skills to adapt to the changing needs of the workforce.  I was pleased to see that the U.S. Department of Education’s recent College Scorecard placed Rutgers University–New Brunswick among 15 four-year public institutions that rank in the top 10 percent on graduation rate and median earnings—alongside aspirant schools such as the University of California–Berkeley and the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

Honors College Programs

One of our stated initiatives within the strategic plan goal of enhancing the student experience is to create distinctive honors college experiences at each of our undergraduate locations. As honors students gain robust opportunities to take advantage of the superior resources of a major public research university, they in turn contribute to the richness of academic life at Rutgers and help us to attract even more top scholars from within and beyond New Jersey. 

Our honors college at Rutgers University–Camden—in the recently renovated space at 319 Cooper Street—continues to give students unique interaction with faculty members through small seminars, while promoting Rutgers-Camden’s deep commitment to civic engagement and molding the leaders of tomorrow.

Rutgers University–Newark is moving forward with plans for a new residential honors college facility that will be a living-learning community with both an urban and a global focus. We are now assessing developer proposals with an eye toward an aggressive construction schedule. This honors college will take a unique approach in engaging a population of underprivileged students who would not have traditionally had this opportunity by taking a holistic view of the students’ academic profile. This new residential learning community will align with the university’s mission as an anchor institution for the City of Newark, and it will provide unique opportunities to students through partnerships with the City.

This September, after two years of planning, construction, and recruitment, we opened the New Brunswick Honors College on Seminary Place.  It is a magnificent facility, complete with high-tech seminar rooms and beautifully designed common spaces, comfortable student rooms and live-in faculty apartments, and offices for academic advising. 

The inaugural class of the New Brunswick Honors College is a community of 530 students drawn from across New Jersey, the nation, and the world.  These young women and men have distinguished themselves as outstanding high school students involved in a remarkable range of leadership activities, and with standardized scores averaging more than 300 points higher than their peers in New Brunswick, and more than 600 points higher than the state and national average. They are living and learning alongside faculty advisors in a state-of-the-art facility that will encourage the cross-pollination of inquiry, ideas, and perspectives from colleagues engaged in a wide array of schools and majors.

The honors college curriculum will introduce first-year students to scholarly inquiry across the university though honors seminars and common courses, connect students with faculty-guided research opportunities through the Aresty Research Center, and ultimately support students in senior capstone projects in which they play a lead role in creating new knowledge.

Faculty Honors

Rutgers faculty serve as instructors, mentors, role models, and inspiration to our students, and many of our most outstanding faculty members have been recognized by prestigious academic organizations for their contributions to the store of human knowledge. Let me offer a few examples to give a sense of the broad range of scholarship pursued by our gifted faculty and the recognition their work gained last year. 

  • Longtime Rutgers professor Joachim Messing, director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, was elected to the National Academy of Science.  Among his many achievements, Dr. Messing developed the shotgun sequencing approach that was used in the Human Genome Project, and he has played a vital role in the work of deciphering the genetic code of corn and other crops.
  • Astronomer Rachel Somerville was one of only 16 theoretical scientists to be named a Simons Investigator by the Simons Foundation, singled out for her contributions to understanding how galaxies formed and evolved. 
  • History professor Beryl Satter and MFA professor Akhil Sharma each were awarded John Simon Guggenheim fellowships in the humanities—Dr. Satter to work on a book on the fight against black economic marginalization, and Dr. Sharma to work on a collection of short stories, some of which have already been published in The Atlantic and The New Yorker
  • Supply chain management professor Don Klock was presented a lifetime achievement award at the Procurement Leaders Global Awards in London—only the second such award the organization has given in the past decade. 
  • Professors Karen D’Alonzo and Tony Forrester were inducted as fellows of the American Academy of Nursing. 
  • Associate professor of English Keith Green’s new book exploring the suffering endured and chronicled in more than 6,000 surviving slave narratives, Bound to Respect, earned the Elizabeth Agee Prize from the University of Alabama Press.
  • And, months before earning the Lasker Award, Professor Emerita Evelyn Witkin received the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences for her research in DNA repair.

Faculty Leadership

In order for Rutgers to become a truly premier public research university we must also make sure the proper academic leadership is in place. I began that process when I first arrived on campus with national searches for senior University academic leaders culminating in the appointment of our current chancellors. Chancellors Haddon, Cantor, Strom and Edwards have all made significant strides in advancing their vision for their respective universities.        

This year we formally separated the roles of Chancellor of New Brunswick and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Richard Edwards continues to serve as the New Brunswick chancellor.  Since the scope of responsibilities for the EVPAA position was altered by the integration legislation that created the four chancellor positions, the title of the position was changed to Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.  After a thorough internal search, I was delighted that Dr. Barbara Lee agreed to become the University’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, our most senior academic administrator. I would like to thank Chancellor Edwards, who formerly held this position by serving in a dual role as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chancellor for Rutgers University–New Brunswick. With the separation and reclassification of this important administrative function, the University can now move forward with an academic leader solely dedicated to our University-wide academic mission.

Dr. Lee is a gifted scholar and a brilliant and experienced administrator—and, as a Rutgers faculty member for over 30 years, she possesses intimate knowledge of the University. Dr. Lee has served both as dean and as department chair at the School of Management and Labor Relations and has chaired and participated on academic committees throughout the state and nationally.  I could not imagine anyone more qualified to fill the chief academic administrator position for the University.  Dr. Lee’s responsibilities include coordinating academic programs throughout Rutgers in conjunction with the provosts at Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and RBHS; chairing the Promotion Review Committee and managing tenure and promotion; coordinating professional programs; and overseeing academic affairs, enrollment management, global affairs, institutional diversity, continuing studies, libraries, veterans services, and Rutgers University Press.

Under Dr. Lee’s leadership, this fall we will be rolling out a faculty diversity hiring initiative. With the advice of the President’s Advisory Council on Faculty Diversity and our four chancellors, we will initiate a five-year plan to enhance the diversity of the faculty at all of the Rutgers University locations.  The initiative will focus on best practices in the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty.  An announcement will go out to the University community within the next few weeks that provides details about this initiative.

As Dr. Lee announced this summer, we also have a new Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian—Krisellen Maloney.  Dr. Maloney has come to us from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where her leadership helped the UTSA libraries earn the American Library Association’s prestigious John Cotton Dana Award for library public relations in 2014.

Many of our schools and units also recruited exceptional new leadership last year—most notably with the appointment of two new provosts. Dr. Michael Palis has been named Provost at Rutgers University–Camden, a position formerly held by Dr. Rayman Solomon. Dr. Palis is an internationally recognized scholar and a founding chair of the Department of Computer Science at Rutgers–Camden. At Rutgers University–Newark we welcome Dr. Jerome Williams as Provost, replacing Dr. Todd Clear. Since his arrival at Rutgers in 2010, Dr. Williams has held the Prudential Chair in Business, served as director of the PhD program, and overseen research at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

I am excited to have both new provosts join us and welcome the unique experience and leadership they bring to their new positions, joining our other talented provosts—Dr. Lily Young at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Dr. Jeffrey Carson at RBHS in New Brunswick, and Dr. Robert Wieder at RBHS in Newark. I would also like to thank Ray Solomon and Todd Clear for their vision and wisdom during a critical transitional period for Rutgers as we established the new leadership model at each university.

Finally, it is important to recognize the exceptional recruiting effort over the past year in regard to our school deans. Last month we welcomed two prominent scholars from the United Kingdom: Dr. Jonathan Potter has come from Loughborough University to join us as the dean of the School of Communication and Information and Dr. James Hayton joins us from the Warwick Business School as the new dean of the School of Management and Labor Relations.

Also this year, Chancellor Strom has recruited extraordinary academic leaders at RBHS. Dr. Sherine Gabriel, who served as the dean of the Mayo Medical School at the Mayo Medical Clinic, began her tenure as the new dean of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School last month. This past April, Dr. Jasjit Ahluwalia came from the University of Minnesota to serve as the dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. And in March Dr. Strom announced the appointment of Gwendolyn Mahon as dean of the School of Health Related Professions after four years as the school’s associate dean for administration and with more than a decade of excellence at Rutgers and the former UMDNJ as a researcher and administrator.

Law School Merger

In looking back at the milestones we have hit this past year, it would be hard to overlook the recent resolution passed by the American Bar Association that officially approved the merger of Rutgers–Newark and Rutgers–Camden law schools, a merger that has been years in the making. This merger positions the University at the forefront of legal education and provides a platform for enhancing our already esteemed reputation.

Rutgers Law School is now one of the nation’s largest single law schools, with more than 1,000 students and 100 faculty members. The combined faculty broadens the expertise available to our law students and allows us to create a more comprehensive curriculum. Equipped with cutting-edge immersive, synchronous learning technology implemented between Newark and Camden this year, law students at both campuses are now taking courses with specialized legal scholars from across the state in real time. Students at both campuses now have access to an alumni network of 20,000 lawyers and two of the largest legal employment markets in the country.

The benefits for our students are clear, but there are also more pragmatic benefits to this merger that the University will begin to realize as integration of the law schools proceeds. We now have one admission system, simplifying the application process for our students and lowering costs as we find new ways to combine other business processes. Our faculty searches are coordinated throughout the school.  Fundraising focuses on a single law entity.   And administrative support services for both locations can be rationalized.

A unification like this is not accomplished easily or overnight, and I would like to recognize all those individuals who ushered this process along, including Chancellor Phoebe Haddon and Chancellor Nancy Cantor, co-deans Ronald Chen and John Oberdiek, and former deans John Farmer and Ray Solomon. Without the hard work and dedication of all these individuals and this faculty, this merger would not have been possible.

First Year in the Big Ten

Our first year in the Big Ten Athletic Conference was more positive than many pundits had predicted. Scarlet Knights teams across all sports enjoyed the excitement of joining a storied and competitive conference whose origins began as an aggregation of like-minded, research-oriented comprehensive universities. The year included memorable wins over Michigan in football and Wisconsin in men’s basketball, our first men’s and women’s individual gold medals in Big Ten track championships, NCAA Tournament berths for our women’s basketball and women’s soccer teams, and the 10th wrestling All-American in school history. 

We did struggle for victories in several sports, but that was to be expected in year one. Our fellow B1G schools include some of the nation’s top academic institutions and boast some of the nation’s top programs in many sports—in fact, Big Ten teams won national titles last year in football, wrestling, rowing, women’s lacrosse, women’s volleyball, and women’s cross country—and finished runner-up in men’s basketball.

These same institutions claim outstanding faculty who are engaged in some of the nation’s most promising research; through our participation in the Big Ten’s academic consortium, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Rutgers has already begun to participate in collaborative research on Traumatic Brain Injury with our CIC colleagues, pursue professional development through the CIC’s Academic Leadership Program, share resources through the Center for Library Initiatives, and take part in conferences such as a first-ever CIC meeting of Classics graduate students that Rutgers hosted last fall.  The CIC is also giving our deans and other administrators invaluable opportunities to share best practices and discuss emerging issues.

It’s hard to measure the full impact of our participation in the Big Ten, but we have seen a number of very positive measures—from a surge in out-of-state applications, particularly in the Midwest, to the approximately $2.4 million worth of media exposure for Rutgers’ academic programs on national television, to the 18% increase in giving to the university for Athletics and athletic scholarships. And with each year of conference membership we come closer to a full share in Big Ten television revenues, critical to moving Athletics toward financial self-sufficiency.

Campus Climate Survey

While everything we are doing to strengthen Rutgers is important, we have no higher duty than ensuring the safety of those who live, work, and learn at Rutgers. Earlier this month, Rutgers’ nationally regarded Center on Violence Against Women and Children released the findings of a pilot survey on sexual violence that it conducted at Rutgers University–New Brunswick during the 2014-15 academic year.  This is an extremely important topic for every college and university.  We are proud that the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Violence asked Rutgers to pilot the survey, and that our report on the survey has been included in a Resource Guide the White House made available this week to colleges and universities across the country.

The survey employed a broad definition of sexual violence that ranges from comments about physical appearance to rape and other forms of sexual assault.  Its findings revealed that about one in five undergraduate women at Rutgers–New Brunswick told us they have been victims of unwanted sexual contact—similar to the numbers reported at other institutions around the country.  Just as important, however, the survey revealed that 24 percent of New Brunswick undergraduate women—nearly one in four—report that they experienced sexual violence before ever coming to college.

We need to take these findings to heart. We have to change attitudes and behaviors, strengthen policies, and increase prevention—whatever we can do to create a safer and more positive environment, here at Rutgers and in society at large. And while the survey for the White House Task Force looked only at New Brunswick, all of us at Rutgers need to work at this. Under the leadership of Chancellors Edwards, Cantor, and Haddon, each university is developing and carrying out action plans to address sexual violence and build awareness of the problem.  We already have quality programs to help survivors of sexual violence, and those who use them give them high marks, but the survey showed that not nearly enough students who experience sexual violence are taking advantage of these services.

We also need to recognize and address the fact that sexual violence is not a problem that is unique to college campuses.  It is clearly a part of the lived experience of our students off our campus and prior to arriving at Rutgers.

Rutgers has been recognized as a leader in research on sexual violence. Now we have an opportunity to take the lead in preventing sexual violence, reporting it when it happens, and supporting the victims of sexual violence.  Our goal should be to eliminate all forms of sexual violence from our campus.


Our Rutgers, Our Future

Calendar year 2015 began with the good news that our fundraising campaign had reached its billion-dollar goal—and then some.  In all, we raised $1.037 billion over a seven-and-a-half-year period, ending on December 31, 2014, including $412 million for faculty and research, $286 million for students and learning, $132 million for campuses and facilities, and $174 million for university and community programs. 

It is particularly gratifying to report that the Our Rutgers, Our Future campaign enabled us to double the number of endowed chairs at Rutgers. When combined with the chairs that came to Rutgers through the integration of UMDNJ, this gives us a current total of 86 endowed chairs, still far fewer than we need but nonetheless a significant improvement from where we were eight years ago, when the total stood at 29.  And I am pleased to say, with enormous gratitude to all those who responded with their own matching gift, we have now completed the 18 Chair Challenge that originated with $27 million from an extremely generous anonymous donor. Meeting the 18 Chair Challenge has brought internationally regarded scholars across a range of fields to Rutgers, fields that include adult autism, cancer research, engineering, entrepreneurship, genetics, mathematics, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, real estate, surgery, and water resources.

Through the campaign we have been able to create 658 undergraduate scholarships and 284 graduate fellowships for students—many of whom might not otherwise be able to experience a Rutgers education. Behind each of these scholarships is a story and a motivation.  Janice and Al Gamper created a scholarship for full-time students at Rutgers University–Newark with a preference for candidates with academic potential from low- or modest-income households. Camden Law graduate Daniel Phelan and his wife Victoria endowed a scholarship to help law students, especially those who are the first in their family to go to college. And the Class of 1962 set up a public service scholarship to assist dedicated upperclassmen at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in maintaining their volunteerism. In total, more than 130,000 donors gave to the campaign, including more than 70,000 alumni, and we are grateful to them all.

The campaign also helped us move forward on critical projects throughout Rutgers, such as new buildings for the Rutgers Business School in Newark and on the Livingston Campus; the Hill Family Center for College Access and the Daniel J. Ragone Center for Excellence in Accounting in Camden; the Health, Education, Advocacy and Law Collaborative at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; 1 Washington Park in Newark; Mortensen Hall on the Douglass Campus; the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on the Busch Campus; and the Byrne Seminars for first-year students in New Brunswick.  And an outpouring of generosity following the unexpected passing of Professor Clem Price, a nationally regarded historian and public intellectual and one of our most beloved faculty members, brought about the naming of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience in Newark.

Fundraising Beyond the Capital Campaign

Our Rutgers, Our Future provided momentum in a host of areas around Rutgers—in student recruitment and the student experience, in faculty excellence, in the enhancement of our campuses, in the enrichment of our curriculum, and in the breadth of our service to New Jersey and the wider society.  But the end of the campaign is not the end of our fundraising effort.  While we will not immediately launch a major new, multiyear capital campaign, we have already begun focused fundraising in a number of targeted areas that include:

  • Honors College Programs in New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark
  • Building a “Healthy New Jersey” – which will ignite new opportunities to improve health across the state through partnerships in research, clinical care, health, and wellness
  • Endowed Professorships – building from 86, which is still well below our peers
  • Undergraduate Scholarships – both endowed and term scholarship funds
  • Graduate Fellowships – both endowed and term scholarship funds
  • New Athletics Facilities – Big Ten-worthy facilities that will enable our student athletes to compete at the highest levels

Alumni and friends who support each area through private gifts will help sustain our commitment to excellence. These investments, however, will not simply enhance life at Rutgers. By giving to Rutgers, alumni and friends can advance thousands of causes that transform lives far beyond the boundaries of campus. From advancing diversity and curing cancer to solving climate change, there are so many ways to make a difference in the world, and the Rutgers community is working tirelessly to solve the social and global problems that matter most.

Giving to Rutgers will fuel momentum at the university, momentum unlike any we have seen before, and momentum is a facilitator of innovation and research, which leads to discovery and ultimately improves lives across the world.


Data Security

The University experienced several distributed denial of service attacks last year, culminating in a prolonged attack in April that was the largest and most intense ever experienced by an institution of higher education.  It became increasingly evident that Rutgers must become very aggressive about data security. As we all witnessed last year, cyber-attacks can disrupt the operations of the University and—in the most extreme cases—compromise sensitive personal data. However, let me be clear in saying that no personal information was compromised during the DDoS attacks, and our security systems were not breached. The way a DDoS attack works is that a cyber attacker overloads the input channels to our system with access requests, to the point where connections between the University and the internet fail.

I want to assure you that we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that the operations of the University will not be interrupted in this way in the future. Among other preventative measures, we have expanded our internet connections and access points in order to give the University more bandwidth and to provide mitigation capabilities.

Although the recent attacks brought intense focus on the University’s cyber security, the Rutgers administration has been working on this concern for some time.  Earlier this year—and prior to the DDoS attacks—the Office of Information Technology, through its Division of Information Protection and Security, distributed a survey to assess the level of our information risk, to raise security awareness among senior management, and to identify areas in need of improvement. As each of the selected Rutgers units completed the survey, they received an individual report on how their unit’s risk compared to Rutgers’ overall risk. A follow-up survey will be conducted this year to measure improvements made throughout the organization. In addition, we will be conducting regular and extensive penetration tests throughout the year to provide an in-depth security review of applications that access sensitive information.

In large part, the primary way for us—as a university—to prevent cyber-attacks is to assess our weaknesses and educate those who have access to sensitive information. Those who have criminal intentions and a high degree of technical ability are constantly developing new methods of breaching the most up-to-date safeguards, and we need to be vigilant not just in protecting our information but in detecting and addressing new threats.

IT Supporting Core Administrative Operations

Rutgers’ integration of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has underscored our need to have a single modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to serve as the information technology foundation for the entire University and its administrative support systems. A modern ERP system should support efficient, effective, and responsive Universitywide business practices and processes, serving as a foundational element of the University Strategic Plan and a way to provide real savings for strategic initiatives. In addition, the University’s move to a Responsibility Center Management budgeting approach requires a major change in the budget process and its supporting software infrastructure.  The new system must also provide more reliable and accessible information to our academic and administrative leadership through improved management reporting capabilities.

During the past 18 months, senior vice presidents Michael Gower and Bruce Fehn have led a task force charged with pursuing an ERP system “refresh.”  After careful consideration of our needs and of options available in the field, the group decided to standardize on Oracle’s Finance and HR Solutions and then to select best-of-breed compatible products for certain limited analytical and transactional functions.  Working with this cloud-based solution enables us to promote standard practices, reduces dependency on IT resources, and puts us in the forefront among our peers.

Executing the ERP refresh is a very large and complicated process. It will require interim upgrades, such as moving RBHS employees in the Banner system to PeopleSoft; creating a new University chart of accounts; and implementing the Hyperion suite of tools for financial reporting, budgeting, and budget planning.  In addition, we will be expanding our use of SciQuest for Procurement across Rutgers and looking into a modern expense-management system that will replace the current TABERs.  We have also selected best-of-breed products for sponsored projects pre-award functions and are well under way in implementing them.

But that is just part of the story.  On the Student Information Systems side, we know there are products with much better functionality that what we have now. Our existing system exposes us to significant risk due to its age and to the relatively “unfriendly” nature of the services provided.  We have issued a Request for Proposal to several potential partners to assist us in the business process review, which will help us determine the best replacement system. 

The systems refresh will move forward in several phases.  Last year, we undertook projects to identify the business requirements, build our implementation roadmap, and create our reporting strategy.

This year’s phase, which has already been approved by the Board of Governors, includes replacing our financial and procurement systems, migrating all employees to a single payroll system, and studying the best ways to reengineer business processes in our finance, HR/payroll, and student areas.

In subsequent phases over the next three years, we will upgrade our Human Resources system to the Oracle platform, move payroll to that platform, complete our business process reengineering, and select and implement a robust new Student Information System.

Other Information System Enhancements

Last year, the University continued to evaluate critical enhancements to all our administrative information systems.  As one step, all student e-mail services were moved to Gmail. We also began the process of moving all remaining e-mail and calendaring functions to a cloud-based environment, Office 365, and expect to have 75 percent of the University migrated by July 1, 2016. 

Also last year, we focused on improving wireless capability across Rutgers, with installations of additional wireless access points in 18 residence halls and 69 buildings throughout the system.  In all, nearly 5,100 access points have been installed in New Brunswick, more than 900 in Newark, more than 400 in Camden, and more than 1,400 throughout RBHS. We expect to complete the remaining sites by next April.

Research Computing

As my administration continues to analyze the University’s IT systems to improve administrative operations, it also becomes critical to assess what advanced computing systems will be necessary to remain competitive with other prominent research universities nationally and internationally. With this in mind, we committed to enhancing our research computing capabilities by creation of the Advanced Research Cyber Infrastructure (ACI) initiative. Through this initiative, the ACI planning committee set out to develop a plan for an advanced research computing ecosystem and a strategic long-term plan for the University.

The committee’s report, which I received last year, outlined key areas in which the University was critically deficient—especially in relation to our peers. Advanced computing permeates the University, with disciplines ranging from genomic studies in the medical and life sciences to computational gas dynamics in the physical sciences. The University’s deficiency in ACI is strikingly evident when looking at the University’s strongest areas such as the Protein Data Bank operated by the University or Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository. In both cases, the University was forced to outsource computing needs to other universities.   

Subsequently, the committee provided numerous recommendations that would allow the University to keep pace with our peers, drive innovation, improve research capabilities and productivity, and enhance our faculty competitiveness. I have already put one of those recommendations into action with the establishment of the Office for Advanced Research Computing, which was announced this past February.

To lead the initial development of this office, I appointed Dr. Helen Berman, Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and a founder of the Worldwide Protein Data Bank, and Dr. Manish Parashar, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute, as Interim Associate Vice Presidents of Research Computing. 

Under the direction of Chris Molloy, Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development, I am confident this new office will advance our University-wide capabilities in research computing and cyberinfrastructure.  In the coming year, with funds from the New Jersey Higher Education Leasing Fund, Rutgers will acquire a large-scale computational platform that will more than double the computing power currently available at Rutgers and will immediately allow us to compete with the top academic systems in the country. This platform will be accessible by students, faculty, and researchers for advanced research and instructional computing.

We have also begun work on another recommendation given by the committee to invest in advanced computing infrastructure.  Work is scheduled to begin in April 2016 to expand the power and cooling capacity of the Hill Research Data Center.  This will allow the University to accommodate more of the increasing demand for on-premises Tier II infrastructure dedicated to research computing. University Facilities and the Office of Instructional Technology will continue to design infrastructure changes that will meet the university’s needs, and they are working with a vendor to complete a facilities assessment and make current capacity projections.


Throughout last year, it became evident to me that the University needed to improve operations in risk management and compliance. We are now in the middle of a national search for a Senior Vice President and Chief Risk, Ethics, & Compliance Officer who will promote, supervise, and sustain a culture of compliance, ethical practices, and risk management across the University. The senior vice president will ensure that the University is in compliance with federal and state regulations and programs related to health plans, hospital operations, healthcare billing and compliance, and privacy and security regulations.  I expect to make an appointment by January 2016.

Perhaps most notably, this individual will oversee the Enterprise Risk Management Program. Since its rollout roughly a year ago, this program has made significant progress toward assessing and mitigating the risks the University faces. With the hiring of several positions this summer in emerging compliance risks—including Athletics, Title IX, and Ethics, Privacy and Research Compliance—the University now has an Enterprise Risk Management structure firmly established.  


Overall Financial Outlook

As we formally close our books for fiscal 2015, we will be able to report a small, but real, positive operating margin for the year, and this is in spite of all the one-time expenses we have had in relation to integration, including IT changes, as well as the negotiation of new contracts with many of our unions. The result of our careful financial stewardship is that the University is on firm financial footing, enabling us to hold this year’s tuition and fee increase to a modest 2.3% in spite of increasing expenses related to our growth and a 3.7 percent decrease in direct state operating funds. 

With the downgrade of the State of New Jersey’s bond rating in April, Rutgers was, at that point, two levels above the state.  Many financial experts felt that there would be significant pressure to downgrade the University’s rating as a consequence of the State’s reevaluation.  There is a strong budgetary relationship between states and their state universities, and until now, only three state flagship universities have managed to maintain a bond rating two or more levels higher than that of their own state. 

Our external rating agencies came back to Rutgers shortly after the state’s bond rating was downgraded. Rutgers underwent a full and complete review by Moody’s that included a day-long, on-site visit.  I myself met with their team at length. On the basis of that review, in June Moody’s reaffirmed its rating of Rutgers’ debt at Aa3, two notches above the State’s A2 negative rating.  They specifically cited two positive factors in their report as strengths of our position: our affiliation with the Big Ten and the formation of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.  Moody’s also noted our solid growth in enrollment and demand and in net tuition per student.  They cited as challenges the likelihood of continued strained state operating aid and state pension funding, ongoing costs associated with integration, and modest financial reserves.  Finally, they noted that our brand is getting stronger and our operating margins will continue to improve for the next five years.

Since the Moody’s review, another rating agency, Fitch, also reaffirmed our current rating.  We will hear from Standard and Poor’s in the coming weeks.

To be sure, the University will remain in a difficult fiscal environment for the next two or three years, and many events both within and beyond our control could change our rating overnight.  However, it is clear that our current financial position is sound, and we can take pride in the discipline we have shown and the smart choices we have made.

Responsibility Center Management

When I arrived at Rutgers three years ago, it was apparent to me that the University was operating under a budgeting system that was not capable of moving Rutgers to the next level, one that no longer reflected best practices in higher education.  That was further complicated when RBHS units came to Rutgers with a completely different budget model.  With this in mind, we began planning for a move to Responsibility Center Management (RCM), a budgeting system that clearly places both the resources and the expenses with each responsibility unit, and that supports and encourages entrepreneurial business decisions by academic leaders and by staff managers.  Recruiting Michael Gower as our Senior Vice President for Finance, with his considerable experience in the design and implementation of RCM systems, was a major enabling step in this process.

The past year continued our major design work for the shift to RCM.  We began budgeting within an RCM framework for the current fiscal year thanks to the diligence and hard work of many people. In addition to Senior Vice President Gower, Vice President Nancy Winterbauer, and their staffs, I want to thank the chancellors and their chief financial officers who spent countless hours offering policy guidance on the RCM model to ensure that it is the joint creation of both our academic and fiscal leadership.  I also want to thank the Senate Budget Committee members who were on the RCM Advisory Committee, as well as the other Advisory Committee members who served as ongoing sounding boards for RCM. As with all budget models, we will all need to shift our thinking somewhat as we grow accustomed to how RCM works and as we become better at making RCM support Rutgers’ ambitious academic goals.

Although as of July 1, 2015 we have been fully running under RCM, not all RCM issues have been completely resolved. For example, how we disentangle certain centrally provided services from those that are offered to a single campus is still a work in progress. We are continuing to address issues that were put into a “parking lot” for resolution this year in time for the next budget cycle. We are also doing extensive IT systems work to support the new RCM model and to provide a more robust planning environment within the context of the  more general systems upgrades that are in progress across the University.

RCM has served many universities well in the challenging and changing fiscal environment facing higher education.  I fully expect that it will similarly help Rutgers to make better decisions on the strategic use of scarce resources so that we can fulfill the academic visions that have been laid out for each of our universities.

Strategic Planning Update

Last year, each university and RBHS published its own strategic plan to complement the University Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Governors in February 2014.  These chancellor-led plans reflect the energy and ideas of faculty, staff, and students and build upon unique assets and opportunities. 

  • The strategic plan for Rutgers University–New Brunswick emphasizes a research-rich academic environment marked by faculty excellence and community engagement, and an equally strong commitment to providing an outstanding student experience in order to become a public institution of choice for high-achieving students from New Jersey, from across America, and from around the world. 
  • With an aspiration to be recognized among the best academic health centers in the United States, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Science’s plan focuses on signature programs in cancer, environmental and occupational health, inflammation and infection, neuroscience, and community health, as well as complementary programs and clinical initiatives. 
  • Rutgers University–Camden’s plan calls for increased experiential learning and research possibilities for undergraduates, enhanced programs for graduate and professional students, and advanced opportunities for faculty research as it seeks to grow while retaining its intimate and collaborative campus culture. 
  • The strategic plan developed by Rutgers University–Newark builds on its identity as an extraordinarily diverse urban, public research university and an anchor institution, where opportunity is not bestowed on a select few but deliberately cultivated for many.

Meanwhile, as demonstrated by initiatives recounted throughout this report, we continue to pursue the University Strategic Plan.

Two major task forces were created through that plan: a senior faculty working group to make recommendations regarding the optimal organization of academic units within the University to best position Rutgers for progress; and a University-wide group to consider the near-term and long-range impact of technology on our educational model and to develop a plan for exploring, testing, and implementing changes in this critical area.

The Committee on Academic Unit Organization, chaired by Professor Linda Brzustowicz, has worked over the past year to examine the current structures at Rutgers through subcommittees collecting and analyzing data on 1) how interdisciplinary work and faculty collaboration is fostered at Rutgers and how centers and institutes are organized; 2) the current relationships between legacy Rutgers and RBHS and comparing this to the organization at aspirational peer institutions; 3) community and outreach as a land grant institution; and 4) common challenges and opportunities within the strategic planning documents of our campuses. The committee will present its interim report to me later this month, and its final report and recommendations a year from now. 

The Committee on Instructional Technology, co-chaired by professors Susan Albin and Darrin York, issued its own interim report in April. In the report, the committee outlined the results of the first phase of their charge—which included data collection to inform the second phase and their final report.  During phase one, the committee was broken into four groups that collected data on four keys areas: 1) perception and use of instructional technology at Rutgers; 2) the University’s resources and organizations associated with instructional technology; 3) best practices to promote student learning with the support of instructional technology; and 4) peer and peer aspirant institutions’ use of instructional technology. The committee concluded that many of the universities in the CIC are moving toward institutionalization of instructional technology and that Rutgers can become a leader in instructional technology innovations. I look forward to receiving the committee’s final report later in the academic year and to moving forward with a University-wide vision for instructional technology implementation.


New and Renovated Facilities

Since I became president, Rutgers has completed, started, or committed to more than $850 million in construction projects directed at meeting critical student and faculty needs as well as enhancing the character and attractiveness of our campuses.  Let me mention just a few of these projects here.

This fall, 350 graduate and upperclass undergraduate students have moved into 15 Washington Street at Rutgers University–Newark, a majestic building that has been restored to its former beauty. With the use of its spectacular first floor for performances, meetings, and community space, this building will further tie the university to the city.

On Cook Campus, we will shortly cut the ribbon on the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health building.  Funded in part by a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor and a $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Institute is a unique asset for Rutgers and the state, and testament to the power of private giving. The new facility has not only state-of-the-art research laboratories and community clinics but also a children’s nutrition center and preschool and a dining facility that offers healthy food options. We have also finished long-needed upgrades at the popular Bishop Quad residence halls on College Avenue, which serve about 300 students.

In Camden, we have renovated and added onto a historic home on Cooper Street, built in 1885, to serve as Writers House, home to both the MFA program and the English department.  Writers House has first-floor programming space for student readings, community workshops, and other events, and the second story will hold faculty and administrative offices, including the literary journal StoryQuarterly.

Among a number of capital projects at RBHS, we have completed a $4 million lab renovation at the School of Health Related Professions within the Stanley S. Bergen Building, and this winter will complete the addition of 24,500 square feet of clinical teaching space at the School of Dental Medicine’s Oral Health Pavilion.

But perhaps the most visible of these projects is the new Honors College in New Brunswick, described earlier in this report.  This facility is the anchor for the largest academic building addition to College Avenue in 30 years, which we expect to complete in time for the University’s official 250th anniversary in November 2016.  Significant progress has been made this summer on both the School of Arts and Sciences Academic Building on Seminary Place and the Lot 8 apartments on College Avenue.  The SAS Academic Building is a signature project for New Brunswick, sitting on a hill overlooking Voorhees Mall. When finished, it will have 2,700 classroom seats, computer lab facilities, and smart classes, and will serve as the home to SAS language departments.  A grand stairway will cut through the center of the building, linking the end of Voorhees Mall to the residential areas and library beyond Bishop Place.

Projects in the Pipeline

Over the course of our anniversary year, there will be several important construction projects moving forward or reaching completion. 

Construction of the 141,000 gross square feet Chemistry and Chemical Biology Building on the Busch Campus is under way, with a fall 2016 completion date.  The facility will give us flexible research laboratory areas worthy of the department’s high productivity in earning federal research grants.  This morning we broke ground on the Global Village Learning Center at the Jameson Dormitory Complex on Douglass Campus, adding 37 beds along with classroom, kitchen, and public spaces.

At Rutgers University–Camden, we have awarded a contract for design and construction of the Nursing and Science Building the Board of Governors approved in 2013.  This 100,000 gross square feet facility will include specialized simulation spaces for advanced teaching, as well as “discovery labs,” student lounges, group study rooms, and collaboration spaces. We anticipate a summer 2017 completion of this project.

We have also awarded a design and construction contract for phase two (87,000 gsf) of the Life Sciences Building at Rutgers University–Newark. The project will create a Life Sciences Center for the biology, chemistry, and neuroscience departments with shared core functions, flexible research space, and academic support spaces, along with the expansion of the imaging suite and vivarium facilities. 

In Piscataway, RBHS is expanding the Pharmacy Building to house two 300-seat auditoriums, four 60-seat classrooms, as well as collaborative practice simulation laboratories, a patient interaction simulation suite, and small-group study rooms, among other features.  This addition should be completed in 2017.

Farther down the road, we are creating a state-of-the-art, 104,000 square feet gateway building for the School of Engineering on the Busch Campus.  The Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering, scheduled to be completed in 2018, will feature an advanced infrastructure of classrooms, laboratories, and common space to facilitate cutting-edge research and instruction.

Rutgers 2030: The Physical Master Plan

This past spring, the Board of Governors approved the completed version of a physical master plan titled Rutgers 2030.  This plan presents exciting and transformative visions for New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden during the next 15 years. Like the strategic plan we completed in 2014, the physical master plan reflects the input of thousands of members of the Rutgers community, and it builds on the momentum of projects already in progress or completed.

The new plan is the most comprehensive master plan Rutgers has ever had. It will help us enhance the student experience both in the classroom and in the lab, as well as in student centers, residence halls, and recreation facilities, and it begins to address critical issues about transportation. At the same time, the master plan offers improvements to facilities and infrastructure that will enable Rutgers to recruit and retain the best faculty.

In Newark, we will open up the campus with a new college walk from Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard to Military Park, create a unique honors living-learning community, catalyze arts and cultural development through Express Newark in the former Hahne & Co. building downtown, and better serve commuters with a transit hub at Conklin Hall.

In Camden, in addition to new facilities for business education and for scientific research, we will substantially renovate classrooms and other learning spaces, create a new welcome center, and continue to reinvigorate Cooper Street and our surrounding environment.

In New Brunswick, our vision includes a transformed College Avenue with a new dining hall, student center, and green space leading to the river, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting Livingston and College Avenue campuses, and a high-tech innovation park in Piscataway.

We envision using technology to bridge the distances between campuses, potentially using libraries and large classroom facilities as “collaboration centers” where lectures can be broadcast, linking programs and students both within a dispersed university like Rutgers–New Brunswick and across our academic institutions. 

Because a master plan is a living document, we will review and update our plan from year to year, and we recognize that we will need to make revisions as circumstances and funding—and unforeseen opportunities—may warrant.

This year, we will dive deeper into operational master planning for RBHS in both Newark and New Brunswick, and we have launched a major master planning effort in transportation and parking in these cities.  We will be seeking to implement the recommendations from the physical master plan and looking for partners to make that possible. We are working with what we have, but also with the cities of New Brunswick and Newark, with Middlesex and Essex counties, and with other institutions of higher education in Essex County in order to expand our transportation system to serve the population and establish a sustainable parking strategy for both cities.

Now that the physical master plan has been completed, the University will transition into the development of projects stemming from the plan. One of our first orders of business will be to upgrade power plants on the Busch and College Avenue campuses.  As part of the redevelopment of the Brower Commons/Student Center area, we are looking at specific projects that can be done in the spirit of our redevelopment of the Livingston Campus—a comprehensive effort that transforms the campus and makes a profound difference in perceptions.  Some of these projects will be self-supporting, while in other cases we will be looking for grants and credits, and/or for private partners to help us accomplish them.

The University is also launching an operational, in-depth master plan for the university libraries.  Libraries have changed their mission; we are looking to align them with what students want and need today, including better computing resources, collaborative areas, and other amenities.

Scheduling and Transportation

An essential component of the physical master plan process is our attempt to improve class scheduling and bus transportation on the New Brunswick campus in order to reduce load and waiting time on our transportation system. The current configuration forces students to wait too long for buses from one campus to another, to travel too often on overcrowded buses, and to be shut out from courses they need for their majors and minors. This past summer, I asked Senior Vice President Bruce Fehn to co-chair a committee on these issues with Peter March, our School of Arts and Sciences’ executive dean.  The committee’s charge was to consider all possible solutions and give me a report and recommendations in time to implement for Fall 2016.

Already this semester, the committee has worked with Transportation to ease crowding on our most heavily used routes. Specifically, we have added extra service on the REXL route between Livingston and Douglass Campuses on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, and we will be monitoring the B route between Busch and Livingston with an eye toward adding resources if needed. 

This is a first step toward a short-term goal of aligning all the processes, using data assessment tools and more sophisticated scheduling software (we are in the process of obtaining a new system), to optimize times and locations of classes, room assignments, and transportation schedules to serve students best. In the near future, full implementation of the committee’s recommendations will improve the student experience through a more balanced weekly class schedule, with less crowded peak times; more course selections; and classes within close proximity so students don’t have to choose between the course they need and its location.

Innovation Park

The physical master plan for Rutgers University–New Brunswick calls for a new high-speed link between the Busch and Livingston campuses.  This link will create a triangular area between the two that the plan envisions as the location of Innovation Park, designed to facilitate the transfer of new knowledge generated by Rutgers faculty and students to the private sector.

Under the leadership of Senior Vice President Chris Molloy, we have made important strides in making Rutgers a strong partner of the business community in New Jersey, connecting the expertise of our faculty and the vast research capabilities of the University with the State and the private sector to spark innovation and job creation in New Jersey. We have now begun active planning for this future technology park in the triangle between Busch and Livingston campuses.

We plan to build out this 30-acre site to bring together industry-university research capabilities and support services into a single location with space for partnering, specialized facilities, and businesses who wish to be in the hub of academic activity. It will also be the home for Rutgers business services offices such as technology transfer, economic development, and corporate contracts.  Equally important, we will equip Innovation Park with state-of-the-art advanced computing resources being purchased though the state's Building Our Future Bond Act.  This will become the most powerful computing environment in the state.

The siting of Innovation Park, between our business campus and science campus, is ideal.  This will help us create synergies for business and science and provide internships for undergraduates and graduates from both disciplines. And with the increase in demand for amenities that Innovation Park will bring, we also have plans to build a hotel and conference center that can accommodate the influx of people that the new public-private partnership will bring. The hotel and conference center will not only be beneficial to the growth of innovation but also will allow the University to boost revenues by offering overnight packages for sporting events, hosting major international conferences and events, and improving fundraising opportunities.    

Using a $500,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration and under the leadership of associate vice president Margaret Brennan-Tonetta in the Office of Research and Economic Development, Rutgers will take important steps this year to make Innovation Park a reality.  These steps include identification of RBHS capabilities for engagement in the park; physical site assessment; expansion of programs in workforce development, entrepreneurship, international and corporate partnerships and  community outreach; and initiation of an RFP process to select a developer who will build and manage the park facilities. Strong internal and external stakeholder engagement in the planning process will ensure that the park will generate significant activity and be a catalyst for economic growth from day one.


So much of what we do points to the future, including the very nature of our mission of education and service.  We seek to prepare our students for 21st century careers and study solutions to current problems in order to create a more sustainable world for future generations.  Yet we are a product of a proud history at Rutgers, and it is vital that we remain connected to those noble and often heroic people who define the Rutgers story—one that began with the signing of a charter in November of 1766.

Last year, many of our faculty, students, and staff devoted hundreds of hours each to ongoing planning for Rutgers’ 250th year. As a key part of that effort, which is being led by Vice President for University Communications and Marketing Kim Manning, we designed a new University Shield.  The shield, which has been approved by the Board of Governors for official use going forward, is simple and elegant in design and rich in symbolism, honoring our founding as Queens College in 1766, our commitment to knowledge and scholarship, and our service to New Jersey.

We will mark our anniversary year in grand fashion. In fact, some members of our community have already begun the celebration, including our Glee Club, which gave a concert this summer at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, from which we drew our motto. I hope you’ve noticed the pole banners that proclaim “Rutgers 250” or show off our new University Shield.  And the party begins in earnest on November 10 on the lawn of Old Queens, our oldest Rutgers building, with a University-wide event that will include historical artifacts, a fife and drum corps, and a community sounding of bells to ring in the anniversary year. 

All year long, extending until our 250th birthday in November 2016, we will observe the anniversary with a wide array of programming—including lectures, symposia, concerts, exhibits, and a University-wide Rutgers Day next April.  These events will be organized at different levels within each university and coordinated—through groups designated by each Chancellor—with the central Rutgers 250 offices. There are also events being coordinated at the highest levels of the University, as I have asked Senior Vice President Barbara Lee to oversee the coordination of three major academic symposia. Two of these symposia are already scheduled for the 250th Anniversary celebration year, and a third in the planning stages. 

The first symposia on April 7 will host two distinguished scholars and academic leaders who will address the Rutgers community about “The Research University in Transition.”  William Bowen, president emeritus of Princeton, former President of the Mellon Foundation, and author of many books on higher education, access, and athletics, will discuss what the history of the research university tells us about its future.  We also have invited a second prominent scholar to discuss the complexities of the 19th century model of a research university in the 21st century. 

Then on October 26, 2016, we will host a second academic symposium that is designed to examine how the language of Rutgers’ 1766 charter that speaks of the “useful arts” applies to Rutgers, and to higher education in general, today.  As part of this event, Kwame Anthony Appiah, a renowned scholar who teaches at New York University, will address “What the Humanities Mean.”  Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies, will discuss “Why the Humanities Matter.” 

I hope you will take part in as many of these special events as you can, and make sure to take a look at the beautifully illustrated book we have produced about Rutgers’ history.  To read it is to become all the prouder about this university.

Concluding Thoughts

Although the Rutgers community still has a lot to accomplish in the coming year in order to close ground on our aspiration to rank among the nation’s leading public universities, as we head into our 250th anniversary year, our momentum is strong. We have produced a compelling strategic plan, crafted an inspiring vision for each of our campuses, set records in fundraising, started or completed construction of signature facilities to benefit our teaching and research, recruited outstanding women and men to newly endowed professorships in critical fields, and most important, welcomed an already highly accomplished Class of 2019 to our community of scholars.  The new Rutgers we are creating may be vastly different from the college chartered in 1766 to prepare young men for the ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church, but it carries on the revolutionary spirit of that era.  Most important, the new Rutgers honors the University’s two and a half centuries of innovation, opportunity, and service to society. I look forward to working alongside the Senate and the entire Rutgers community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—in carrying out our mission and pursuing our aspiration.  Thank you.