President's 2018 Report to the University Senate

September 21, 2018

I begin this report with a word of tribute and recognition. Just as we prepared for a new academic year—which would have been her 42nd at Rutgers—we learned that Jan Ellen Lewis, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–Newark, had passed away. We mourn Dean Lewis’s death but also celebrate her exceptional life.

Jan Ellen Lewis She embodied so much of what Rutgers stands for:  penetrating, innovative research in her field of expertise, early American history; unstinting dedication to diversity and inclusion in higher education; deep commitment to service; and constant support and advocacy for students as the heart of what we do. Jan Lewis brought humanity and dignity to her leadership and, in doing so, she brought out the best in her students, her colleagues, and the university.

A Record-Setting Year

This has been a record-setting year for Rutgers on many fronts, all of them positive indicators of our upward trajectory. In May we sent forth the largest graduating class in Rutgers’ history. Over the summer, we completed a record-breaking year in fundraising—both in dollars and in numbers of donors. Earlier this month we welcomed the largest first-year class in our history, a third of whom are the first in their family to attend college. And those students were drawn from a record number of applications. Rutgers is attracting, educating, and graduating more students than ever before—and generating more gifts from friends who value and want to support our mission. 

We received other good news about Rutgers this summer. In June, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education informed us officially that Rutgers had earned renewed accreditation for the next nine years. And just last week we learned that both Rutgers University–Newark and Rutgers University–New Brunswick jumped up in the U.S. News & World Report national university rankings by a combined 31 spots.

As the institution has succeeded, so have our students, who continue to garner important international scholarships and fellowships. This past spring, 26 Rutgers students were offered Fulbright U.S. Student Grants—the second highest total in our history. Two undergraduates—physics and math major Maine Christos and cell biology and neuroscience major Nicholas Page—were named Goldwater Scholars. And Class of 2018 classics major Michael Antosiewicz earned the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, the 10th Rutgers student to do so in the past 11 years.

We also take pride in the remarkable things our students do outside the classroom, such as the Dance Marathon team at Rutgers–New Brunswick who raised more than $1 million again this year for children battling cancer; the Rutgers–Newark students who spent spring break delivering “solar suitcases” with electric power to some of Puerto Rico’s most hurricane-devastated communities; and the Rutgers–Camden students who ran into a burning building to save a neighbor from a house fire.

Richard Weeks Hall at Rutgers New BrunswickAs I begin this annual report, it’s instructive to remind ourselves how much the University has changed since 2012. That was the year I arrived and, much more importantly, the year that New Jersey restructured higher education and passed a bond issue for new construction on college and university campuses. Although so much is different from six years ago, we can easily lose sight of the transformation as students move through Rutgers and as buildings become familiar. Let me cite a few examples of how we have changed:

  • In 2012, we had 58,000 students; we’re now knocking on the door of 70,000.
  • That year we awarded a little fewer than 14,000 academic degrees; this past year we conferred more than 18,000.
  • We had not yet entered the Big Ten in 2012, and we had no medical schools.
  • Rutgers’ budget was under $2 billion; now it is more than twice as large, at $4.4 billion.
  • Our fundraising total for the year that ended in June 2012 was $95 million, and we have topped $200 million in gifts for the past two years in a row.
  • External research grants have gone from under $400 million in fiscal year 2012 to more than $600 million, and endowed professorships jumped from 41 to 88.
  • In the five years prior to 2012, the University undertook $870 million in capital construction; from 2013 to today, our construction projects have totaled $2.2 billion. This year, we added the Chemistry and Chemical Biology building and the Weeks Hall of Engineering at Rutgers–New Brunswick and the Nursing and Science Building at Rutgers–Camden.

And we’re not done yet. In the following pages, I will highlight some of the major issues and achievements that dominated the scene during the past academic year.


This summer I wrote in a widely publicized letter that few values are as important to the University as the protection of our First Amendment rights—even when the speech we are protecting is insensitive and reckless. We have been tested repeatedly over the last few years on questions of free speech. By nature, these questions will make us uncomfortable, and will call upon us to weigh the damage done to our community by a person’s words against the damage done to the university by not defending the First Amendment.

We respect the rights of members of our community—our faculty, students, alumni, and staff—to express their viewpoints, including viewpoints that the University itself or I personally may not share. Likewise, we do not restrict the activities of recognized university organizations, including the speakers they invite to campus, as long as these organizations obey the law and follow University policy and guidelines regarding these events.

We do, from time to time, receive complaints about discriminatory speech from members of our community. Such cases, like all allegations of discrimination or harassment involving faculty and staff, are referred to the Office of Employment Equity (OEE). That office has publicly posted policies for how it conducts investigations, and how the rights of claimants and respondents are protected throughout the process.

One of the challenges of free speech is that each instance is unique. Often, the OEE uses a multi-pronged approach, endorsed by federal courts, that focuses on whether an employee’s interest in free expression outweighs the government’s interest in the effective and efficient provision of services at our institution. Speech that makes it impossible for an employee to do his or her job, or which could significantly disrupt the delivery of services by the university, is not protected under the First Amendment. In my view, on this point, we must maintain a very high bar, as it has never been easier for outside forces to disrupt our enterprise. Nor has it ever been more important for us to defend against encroachment on our right to freedom of expression.

First Amendment questions are by nature complex and likely to invite misunderstanding and diverging opinions. It is very likely that speech which many will find offensive or morally repugnant will simultaneously be protected by the First Amendment. Because of this complexity, I have asked our Office of the General Counsel to convene a standing panel of First Amendment experts and legal scholars to advise the Office of the General Counsel and, in turn, the Office of Employment Equity in assessing matters that involve questions of free speech.

Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue Campus at Rutgers New BrunswickThe principles of academic freedom demand the same attention and defense as our First Amendment rights. Now is the time for truth, for scientific inquiry, and for demanding fact, rationality, and civility as the basis of our national discourse. Over the past year, nationally and here at Rutgers, outside groups have demanded that scholars be silenced for views expressed under the umbrella of academic freedom. It is the right of our faculty, in the discharge of their duties, to express their ideas and to challenge the ideas of others without fear of retribution.

As I have stated many times before, and will state again, civil discourse, intellectual dialogue, and the discovery of new knowledge require that our faculty explore new and sometimes controversial material, questions, and ideas. Rutgers is committed to protecting this foundational right and responsibility of academia. At the same time, our students, faculty, and staff must feel comfortable in challenging such ideas. We must continue to protect an open university environment in which such a dialogue can take place.


Over the past year, our campuses continued to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion, civility, and the rights of all members of our community to pursue their education, work, and research—even as at the national level, an often-toxic debate swirled around immigration, international relations, and the nature of our democracy.

Immigration and Federal Issues

Thanks to the overwhelming support of our students, Rutgers has been a leader in advocating for DACA recipients over the last two years. Our students led a campaign resulting in more than 45,000 letters in support of DACA to federal senators and representatives. Rutgers University–Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor is among the leaders of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration—a group of presidents and chancellors (including all of ours) aggressively lobbying for an ethical and just solution for DACA recipients. The four chancellors, with funding from my office, have established the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project, which provides free and confidential legal consultation on immigration and refugee issues to students in our community.

At the state level, Rutgers has been an active partner in efforts to provide solutions for undocumented students. This year, with strong support from Rutgers, the state voted to extend Tuition Assistance Grants to “dreamers” at New Jersey universities. At the request of the state attorney general, I also provided a declaration in support of the state’s attempt to intervene in an effort led by Texas to declare DACA unconstitutional. My declaration speaks to the vital contributions that DACA students make to our teaching, scholarship, and civic engagement, and the very real damage to the University that would result from losing them as community members. Rutgers is home to hundreds of undocumented students, and it is incumbent upon us to defend them—as we would any other group—against attempts to interfere with their path toward their degree. hand holding a nation of dreamers signThe University has also been very vocal on the so-called “travel ban,” and we continue to work aggressively to influence federal policies that impede the Rutgers community and higher education more broadly. Higher education depends upon the free exchange of ideas, globally.

In early 2017, through the leadership of our students, Rutgers made national news by rallying to the aid of international students who, in my opinion, were being unjustly barred from entering our country because of the travel ban. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in favor of the travel ban has made advocacy on this issue challenging, but Rutgers continues to work hard to help our graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduates from the countries named in the travel ban.

We have an outstanding team of people in Rutgers Global, with deep expertise in immigration regulations, who advise and counsel our international students and scholars. The International Student and Scholar Services office within Rutgers Global has been monitoring the situation and is aware of—and in contact with—several students who have been delayed in re-entering the United States by administrative processing.

Roughly 80 Rutgers postdocs and graduate students, primarily Iranian, have been impacted by the travel ban. Rutgers lobbies through established channels in support of these individuals and seeks help for them in their home countries.  From the outset, the University has worked—and will continue to work—with a range of external support groups, as well as members of our law school faculty, to help students and scholars ensnared in the uncertainty of the visa and legal status situation. Rutgers Global also provides financial support to students stranded internationally by the ban on a case-by-case basis.

Equally important, Rutgers counsels our international students, especially those from the countries included in the Trump Administration’s new policy, while they are here on campus. Before a Rutgers international student leaves the U.S., he or she is instructed to obtain a travel signature through the international student services office on campus. This document, plus their valid visa, is needed to get back into the country.  Students from the countries singled out in the Administration’s executive orders who have been admitted and granted visas are supposed to be able to return to the U.S. if they have proper documentation, but because this can be a grey area, Rutgers Global usually advises that these students do not leave the U.S.

We will continue to push back publicly against federal or state policies that threaten to impede the ability of our students to pursue their degrees, our faculty to conduct their research, or our staff to fulfill their duties at Rutgers.

Promoting Faculty Diversity

Three years ago—in recognition that our faculty diversity has struggled to reflect the demographics of our student body and our state—my office committed $21.7 million to efforts that would recruit, hire, and retain diverse faculty members. We are making progress in this critical area, both by building excellent programs to support and mentor our junior faculty, and by hiring new faculty from underrepresented groups. In the past year, for example, Rutgers has added 15 tenured faculty from underrepresented groups (or 40 percent of the 38 tenured appointments), and 53 tenure- and clinical-track faculty from underrepresented groups (or 41 percent of the 129 such appointments). This is important progress, but it is worth noting that, based on self-reported demographic data, the total percentage of underrepresented faculty has remained nearly flat, as their growth is proportionate to our overall faculty growth.

I want to spend a few moments discussing some of the challenges behind this issue. First, more faculty than ever decline to provide demographic data as part of their hiring information. This is their right and one that the University respects—but also a fact that makes it challenging to track progress on issues of diversity. Second, while the University implemented a centralized platform for faculty recruitment, known at the Recruiting, Onboarding and Classification System (ROCS), usage at the school level has been exceptionally poor. Without adoption of a centralized hiring platform, it is simply not feasible for the University to maintain credible data on the diversity of applicant pools or the rate of hire for applicants from underrepresented groups. This is, frankly, a faculty issue, and one that will require leadership among the deans and the faculty to address with the gravity it deserves.

Simply recruiting underrepresented scholars to join our faculty is not sufficient, however. As with all new faculty, these new members of our academic community must be retained and mentored. With this in mind, we have cultivated outstanding programs to strengthen our faculty’s professional community at Rutgers. Under the leadership of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Lee, three universitywide programs offer mentoring and training focused on areas of faculty diversity:

  • The Rutgers Connection Network pairs faculty members with mentors from across Rutgers—and, importantly, from a different department. Last year, 70 faculty participated, from 23 different schools and 50 different departments.
  • The OASIS Leadership and Professional Development Program is a semester-long program designed to accelerate career advancement for female faculty members. Each semester, 20-25 women participate in workshops, networking events, mentoring, and coaching. This program has the added benefit of helping Rutgers cultivate promising emerging leaders from our own ranks.
  • Finally, the Program for Early Career Excellence functions similarly to the OASIS program, but focuses on diverse faculty early in their careers and provides them with the mentoring, professional development, and workshops that will help to ensure their success as assistant professors.

Although as a University we must continue our hard work to enhance the diversity of our faculty, these programs will ensure that robust support mechanisms for faculty from every background succeed in becoming part of the fabric of our community.


Throughout the past five years, beginning with the strategic planning process, improvement of the student experience has been a constant pursuit across the University. It is not enough for Rutgers to seek prominence among the top research universities in the nation. We must also keep students and their educational experience at the center of all we do at Rutgers.

We have the resources, opportunities, and support necessary for students to be engaged learners and prepared for the workforce of today and tomorrow. Indeed, every student who comes to Rutgers deserves the opportunity for a rewarding academic experience marked by personal growth and engagement, and an administrative structure that supports the student along the path toward a degree. Our commitment to our students is ongoing.

This year, for example, we looked at our deregistration policy with fresh eyes. In the past, this policy automatically deregistered students from all their classes by a certain date early in the new semester if their tuition bill was not paid. However, experience has shown us that delays in federal student loan disbursements and other issues that are often out of a student’s control were causing our students to be deregistered, thus disrupting their academic progress. So we have modified the deregistration policy with a much fairer approach, called RUHere, that aggressively asks students to confirm their attendance for the semester with a simple click; only those who confirm that they will not attend will be deregistered and directed to formally withdraw. The system also requires students to actively accept the financial responsibility that comes with their attendance. I’m pleased to report that RUHere has had a 99 percent completion rate this month among more than 66,000 students.

Here are some of the other efforts we have been making to strengthen the student experience.

One-Stop and myRutgers Dashboard

Rutgers has made important progress in adopting a “one-stop” concept for the administrative interactions that students have with the University during the course of the year. We are committed to making it as easy as possible for students to transact business with the offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounting, both electronically and in person. Last year we launched a new financial aid website and implemented a check-in app at the financial aid office. Now we are moving ahead with one-stop service centers on each of our campuses.

Earlier this month, the Rutgers University–Camden one-stop service center opened. It is staffed by employees who can manage transactions that support a majority of our students’ most pressing needs. In August, we co-located staff from the Offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounting in Records Hall on the New Brunswick campus. We plan to open a fully functioning one-stop service center at Rutgers University–New Brunswick by spring 2020, and at Rutgers University–Newark by the end of that year.

screenshot of the myRutgers portal Over the past year we also introduced the myRutgers student dashboard—an integrated, personalized platform that is easy to navigate, allowing students to perform self-service activities from computers and mobile devices. The dashboard, accessible from the ‘My Dashboard’ tab at, provides university information, grouped into intuitively named channels for courses and registration, grades, degree, financial aid, and e-mail, for example. Student involvement has been critical to the development of the new platform. Students have been providing input about what they want and need from such a dashboard, as well as testing new designs and offering feedback as they use it. 

These changes have already had an impact. Key student services offices have reported reduced foot traffic this month despite the growth in enrollment, and customer service survey ratings have improved as well.

Redesign of Course Scheduling

We continue to make progress in implementing the recommendations of our task force on scheduling, housing, and transportation, whose goal was to ease the congestion that students have experienced on the Rutgers–New Brunswick campus transportation system, especially at the busiest times on the busiest weekdays. As an immediate step, we added 18 buses to the fleet last year to reduce crowding during peak hours. A bus tracking information system, Transloc, helps students know when the next bus will arrive at the nearest stop. And a new bus shelter has been installed in front of the Sojourner Truth Apartments on College Avenue to improve the experience of students on that campus. In addition, the synchronous lecture halls—one on Cook, its partner on Busch—continue to help reduce student travel, and we are working to add similar classrooms and functionality on our Camden, Newark, and RBHS campuses.

Just as significant, a new universitywide course scheduling system, developed with broad faculty input, will optimize the room and time scheduling of courses. For students at Rutgers–New Brunswick, the system will help to reduce their travel to and between classes. Across Rutgers, it will help reduce time-to-degree by optimizing course combinations so that students will be much better able to take the courses they need—within a semester and in a sequence of semesters—in order to graduate on time. To cite one example, the software is programmed to make it possible for all the students who would want to take calculus, general biology, and expository writing in the same semester—a very useful combination for many majors—to do so without conflicts.

The new system grew out of the strategic planning process and what we heard from the Rutgers community, especially students and faculty, about the need to improve scheduling and keep students on course for graduation. We have kept faculty involved throughout the process, with faculty members from across all schools serving on the implementation advisory group. It’s also important to note that faculty and faculty administrators comprise the scheduling committee charged with creating the policies and processes that guided the gathering of information about faculty teaching availability.

To make the system work for our students and place the courses closer to where they live, we may be moving faculty members from the room and day and time they are accustomed to. I can assure you, however, that we are distributing rooms and times in an equitable way that takes into account many factors, balancing faculty preferences and availability with the locational needs and academic progress of our students.

Ultimately, the new software will help to distribute classes to ensure courses are offered in optimal locations and that classroom spaces are efficiently used to accommodate appropriate classes and class sizes. The new system is currently going through a rigorous, real-world testing process, running in a “shadow” mode in parallel with our legacy systems this year. It is on course to be fully implemented in the course selection process at Rutgers–New Brunswick, Rutgers–Newark, and Rutgers–Camden for next fall.

Our Honors Colleges

The Honors College in New Brunswick, which opened in 2015, is approaching a new milestone as its inaugural class moves toward graduation this year. The Honors College continues to attract academically high-achieving students from across New Jersey and beyond and is complemented well by the honors programs in each of the schools at Rutgers–New Brunswick.

HLLC Rendering for NewarkThis past year, the Honors Living Learning Community at Rutgers University–Newark drew high praise for redefining the notion of an honors student. A New York Times article called attention to the HLLC’s mission of social engagement and unique admissions process, which measures leadership, determination, and collaborative acumen in addition to traditional academic metrics, under the headline, “An Honors College That Honors Grit.” The HLLC facility, which will house 400 students, is scheduled for completion next summer.

The Honors College at Rutgers University–Camden, which opened in 1997 and boasts 1,050 alumni, has grown significantly in the past few years. With a record 156 members in its first-year class this year, the Camden Honors College now enrolls 525 students. Their program includes a rigorous curriculum, experiential learning opportunities such as study abroad, and a mandatory commitment to campus and community service each semester.

Ensuring Access and Affordability

The past year has been an enormously successful one for new student recruitment. In the undergraduate first-year class that arrived a few weeks ago, we have a record 9,300 students, a more than 10 percent increase above last year, with a 10 percent increase in domestic out-of-state students. At the same time that applications and enrollments have increased, both the academic quality and the diversity of our student body continue to remain strong. group of students at convocation

Rutgers University–New Brunswick, which welcomed its largest first-year class this month, is also a model of diversity among its fellow Big Ten public universities, with the largest percentage of federal Pell grant recipients and the smallest gap in graduation rates between Pell and non-Pell students. Within the Big Ten, New Brunswick also boasts the second highest percentage of undergraduates from underrepresented minorities at 20.6 percent, behind only Maryland, and by far the highest percentage of underrepresented minority graduate students at 19.4 percent.

In Newark and Camden, where the tuition scholarship programs RU-N to the TOP and Bridging the Gap have been in place for the past two years, we have experienced impressive and exciting increases in enrollment as well. For example, the number of Newark residents enrolled at Rutgers University–Newark has increased by 59 percent since 2013, and their graduation rate has also risen. This is especially gratifying in that Rutgers is a key partner in the Newark City of Learning Collaborative whose mission is to increase the number of city residents who hold a college degree.

At Rutgers­ University–Camden, fully two-thirds of the record incoming cohort of undergraduates is African-American or Hispanic, and the number of incoming African-American undergraduate students has more than tripled in the past three years. Camden’s commitment to access and affordability is complemented by its focus on student achievement. This fall, under Chancellor Phoebe Haddon’s leadership, a new student success program at Rutgers–Camden is under way in which many new undergraduates will be expected to meet with their advisors at least once monthly for advising and coaching in order to keep on track for graduation.

It is also important to remember that our commitment to a diverse student body is deep and expansive. We celebrate our longstanding racial, ethnic, and economic diversity, we welcome those coming to higher education at an older age, we support immigrant and international students, we rightfully rank among the nation’s best colleges for veterans, we have vibrant student communities of many faiths, we are listed among the most supportive campuses for LGBT students, and we provide a pathway for those in prison to earn a college degree. We are intentional about creating an inclusive scholarly community, and proud of it.

One of my most important responsibilities as president is to support students and their families by working to keep a Rutgers education affordable. We accomplish this in multiple ways, starting with our commitment to hold tuition increases to a minimum. Over the past six years, the average annual increase in tuition at Rutgers has been 2.3 percent, a significant reduction as compared with the increases of the previous decade.

Just as important, we continue to expand our pool of financial aid dollars to help offset tuition increases for students with high need, in part by lobbying successfully for additional state support for Tuition Aid Grants. In fact, for commuter students with family incomes under $48,000, the net cost of tuition and fees is $267 in New Brunswick—and zero in Newark and Camden. The full cost of attendance for these students—figuring in the cost of books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses, is between $4,200 and $4,600.

We made two decisions in the past year that provided additional funding support for Rutgers students. In January, we raised the minimum wage for all student workers to $11 an hour, a 30 percent increase that impacted about 9,000 of the 13,000 student workers across our campuses. I took this action in recognition that it can help ease the burden on those who may have to work two or three jobs just to stay at Rutgers, but who may not have benefited from changes in traditional financial aid programs.

In the spring, the Board of Trustees issued the report of a task force that had studied the difficulties many students face in affording a Rutgers education. We intend to work toward implementation of the report’s recommendations, and a formal announcement about this will be coming next week. However, the Board of Trustees made its own commitment to address student need last year, directing the use of nearly $9 million in trustee-controlled accounts to act as endowments dedicated to student aid. In fiscal year 2018, the Trustees provided $200,000 for Rutgers Assistance Grants, $100,000 for emergency assistance funds on each campus, and $86,000 for student food pantries in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick.

Let me conclude this glimpse at our commitment to student aid by celebrating a great milestone: this year we mark the 50th anniversary of the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund, a statewide commitment to open the doors of higher education to students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Since its inception, EOF has provided students at Rutgers not only financial assistance but also high-quality academic support and leadership development. I salute our extraordinary team of EOF counselors and staff and congratulate our current EOF students and more than 15,000 EOF alumni for their own personal accomplishments in and beyond the classroom.

Welcoming Graduates Back to Rutgers

Although for some it may seem an eternity, our students are here for just a short time—four years in the majority of cases. But once graduated, they are Rutgers alumni for a lifetime. Great universities make it a priority to address the needs of their alumni, and recognize that alumni involvement and engagement are critical to the institution’s long-term success.

Rutgers Camden Alumni HouseWe want to encourage all our graduates to keep in touch, to get involved, to support the University financially if they are in a position to do so, and to always feel like Rutgers is their home. Now, after years of planning, they will actually have a home on each of our campuses. In October we will hold grand openings for the Alumni Center at Rutgers University–Newark, a rehabbed 19th century house on Washington Street, and for the Alumni House at Van Nest Hall, which is on the Old Queens Campus in New Brunswick. 

These centers join with the Camden Alumni House that opened two years ago in providing a warm welcome and showing appreciation to the members of our growing alumni body, now more than 500,000 strong.
Alumni House in Newark Van Nest Hall at Rutgers University New Brunswick


As I noted earlier, the University earned reaccreditation by Middle States this summer, completing a process that not only is necessary for receiving federal funds but also presents an opportunity to examine what we do and how we can improve. I’m delighted to say that we received an overwhelmingly positive report from the Middle States site visit team led by Dr. Eric Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University. They applauded Rutgers for our focus on affordability and accessibility, our thoughtful integration of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the improvement of our operations, and our commitment to educational effectiveness.

More than 100 faculty, staff, students, and board members served on the committees that authored our self-study. This effort required a major personal commitment by these individuals over an 18-month period, and I thank them and everyone who contributed to the process. The Middle States report reaffirmed what we already know: the new Rutgers is an academic powerhouse that is positioned to reach even higher in the coming years.

Faculty Honors

Much of our success is a direct result of the achievements of an immensely talented Rutgers faculty.  Here are only a few of the most recent honors and awards:

  • Professor Paul Falkowski, of the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his work in understanding and communicating the impact of human activity on the earth’s climate. This award is commonly recognized as the “Nobel Prize equivalent” in his field.
  • Nursing science professor Charlotte Thomas-Hawkins, of the School of Nursing within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, received the Outstanding Contribution Award from the American Nephrology Nurses Association.
  • History professor Kate Epstein of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences–Camden received a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars from the American Council of Learned Societies.
  • Leon Fraser, professor of professional practice in management and global business at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick, was named Mentor of the Year by the National Black MBA Association’s New Jersey Chapter.
  • Four faculty from Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: Vivian Bellofatto of the New Jersey Medical School; Peter March and Richard Padgett of the School of Arts and Sciences; and Arnold Rabson of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey.
  • Professor of electrical and computer engineering Yanyong Zhang, of the School of Engineering, was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for her “contributions to robust and efficient large-scale sensor networks.”
  • Professor Stacy Hawkins of Rutgers Law School received the Derrick A. Bell Award from the Association of American Law Schools, recognizing her commitment to diversity issues in scholarship and teaching.
  • Five Rutgers faculty members were named Fulbright Scholars: Biochemistry professor Hong Li of the New Jersey Medical School; history professor Xun Liu, sociology professor Zakia Salime, and geography professor Laura Schneider, all of the School of Arts and Sciences–New Brunswick; and Matthew Matsaganis, professor of communications in the School of Communication and Information.

A Rise in Rankings

Thanks to the dedication of our faculty and staff, Rutgers has enjoyed an unprecedented jump in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Rutgers–New Brunswick moved, in one year, from 69th to 56th among national universities, tied with fellow Big Ten schools Ohio State and Purdue.  Only three public Big Ten institutions are ranked higher—Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In the same category of national universities, Rutgers–Newark moved from 133rd to 115th, a leap of 18 spots, and is tied with Auburn and the University of Tennessee. Rutgers–Camden already ranks highly within its peer group of regional universities in the north, this year holding the 28th spot on this list.

The rise in the rankings, though driven largely by our academic success, also reflects a change in ranking methodology used by U.S. News that gives increased weight to student outcomes while decreasing weight to survey reputation and student profile metrics. In other words, U.S. News now recognizes our ability to support economic mobility by comparing, for example, the graduation rates of Pell recipients to those of all students. The rankings also recognize that our graduation rates are better than expected based on student indicators.

Commitment to Research

The establishment of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences five years ago moved Rutgers to a new level of research activity. Rutgers University now stands among the top 20 public universities in the country with more than $650 million in annual research expenditures. We bring more research dollars to the state than all other New Jersey colleges and universities combined. And our medical research portfolio—which is going to grow much larger through our partnership with RWJBarnabas Health—already includes 350 clinical trials at any given time.

Under Chris Molloy, and now interim Senior Vice President David Kimball, the Office of Research and Economic Development has made great strides in connecting our faculty’s research expertise with opportunities for commercialization and economic development. Since fiscal year 2014, our corporate research funding has increased by 28 percent, and we now have attracted more than 200 industry partners to work with our faculty researchers on discoveries that will have positive benefits for the New Jersey economy.  Since 2014 we have also launched 20 company startups, and last year our patents generated $14.5 million in revenue.

It’s not just what our inventions can return in dollars and cents that matters; it’s what they can do to make our lives better. It’s the value our research discoveries bring to society. As one example, a coronary stent that uses material developed by Professor Joachim Kohn is the first bioresorbable, drug-eluting, and x-ray opaque stent to be brought to market. Cardiologists will, for the first time, be able to position a non-metallic stent precisely—and thus give their patients a safer and more effective stent. Researchers at our Wireless Information Network Laboratory are working with colleagues from Columbia and other universities on a next-generation wireless capability that would enable surgeons to operate remotely on patients and help cities to dramatically improve traffic safety.

We want to deepen our corporate connections, which benefit the companies, the University, and the state. On July 1, we launched the Rutgers Corporate Engagement Center, a joint venture between the Office of Research and Economic Development and the Rutgers University Foundation. This center will promote opportunities for sponsored research, technology commercialization, talent recruitment, executive education, and strategic philanthropy. 

One of the greatest jewels of Rutgers research is the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which came into the University through the restructuring act of 2012. Last month, CINJ was reauthorized as the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the state of New Jersey. This designation is highly competitive and awarded to centers that exhibit scientific excellence in cancer research and that bring research discoveries to patients through novel treatments and clinical practice. CINJ will play an even larger role in providing access to world-class care for New Jersey cancer patients in the coming years through our agreement with RWJBarnabas Health. Cancer Institute of New Jersey

For nearly a decade, CINJ researchers have benefited from close collaboration with colleagues at Princeton University, working side by side to make important advances in areas such as precision medicine and immunotherapy. This year we have been exploring greater collaboration with Princeton, which has a world-class reputation and many areas of shared research interest, including not only cancer research but also drug discovery, brain research, computing, and biomedical data science. My research vice presidents and I have been meeting with Princeton President Chris Eisgruber and his team to explore additional opportunities for mutually rewarding collaboration.

Building on Our Humanities Strengths

I am pleased to report continued progress in implementing our plan to maintain Rutgers’ longstanding strength in the humanities, which was recognized as a foundational element in our University Strategic Plan. Two years ago I accepted the report of the Task Force on the Humanities, led by Senior Vice President Barbara Lee and with faculty membership from Newark, New Brunswick, RBHS, and Camden. In response to the task force report, I committed $10 million to strengthen the humanities on all of our campuses, in conjunction with my previous commitment of $21.7 million for diverse faculty hiring.

Naomi Klein Allocations from this investment have supported our outstanding writing programs in Newark and Camden. Rutgers–Newark, for example, has hired Salamishah Tillet, an acclaimed writer and social critic, to teach non-fiction writing and serve as associate director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. Rutgers–Newark has also increased fellowship aid for students applying to the master’s program in the humanities. Rutgers–Camden has been funding graduate students who teach writing to first-year undergraduates, from whom they have received extremely enthusiastic student evaluations.

The investment has also helped departments to recruit nationally renowned scholars. At Rutgers–New Brunswick we have hired a prize-winning senior scholar in early modern global history, senior scholars in metaphysics and the philosophy of perception, a senior scholar in 18th century British literature, and a junior scholar in formal semantics.  Humanities Task Force funding also helped us to recruit Naomi Klein to be the inaugural Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies. The addition of these scholars will help ensure that, as Rutgers grows, we never compromise our commitment to scholarship in the humanities and their central role in a comprehensive undergraduate education.

Evaluating Teaching

I reported to you last year that we are pursuing an initiative to strengthen the way that we evaluate teaching for everyone who teaches at Rutgers, reflecting the fundamental goal, expressed in our strategic plan, of excellence in teaching. I know this is an issue of great importance to the University Senate, which has been recommending improvements to the teaching evaluation process for several years. Last year, a task force on the evaluation of teaching convened by Senior Vice President Lee proposed a new framework that calls on each department to prepare a systematic plan for evaluation that is appropriate for that particular discipline. 

A critical part of teaching evaluation is student feedback. This May, a task force created by Senior Vice President Lee and chaired by Professor Jenny Mandelbaum addressed the challenges of collecting this information in a consistent and meaningful way at a complex institution like Rutgers. Among its recommendations, the student feedback task force called for updating and improving the Student Instructional Rating Survey, providing incentives that will foster a high response rate in all classes, and pre-course and mid-term survey instruments for the benefit of students and their instructors. students in an economics class

As I noted last year, in addition to student surveys, we will ask departments to employ peer observations of teaching, review of course materials, and other tools in their evaluations. Our goal, consistent with our commitment to improve the student experience, is to identify and reward good teaching and help improve teaching where that may be needed.

The framework of the teaching evaluation task force is being implemented at Rutgers–Camden and Rutgers–Newark, and RBHS has already been doing much of what the task force recommends. At Rutgers–New Brunswick, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the School of Management and Labor Relations conducted pilot programs with positive results. We are encouraging all schools to adopt this framework during the coming academic year.

Constructing Environments for Academic Excellence

Building a world-class university requires that we provide the environments that accommodate—and inspire—21st century scholarship and research. In the past year we opened academic buildings dedicated to health and science:

  • The Nursing and Science Building at Rutgers–Camden, with 102,000 square feet of space for classrooms, biology and physics labs, laser and simulation labs, and an immersive lecture hall;
  • At Rutgers–Newark, the second phase of the Life Sciences Center, with 87,000 square feet for research labs, offices, conference rooms, and a classroom;
  • In Piscataway, a 60,000-square-foot addition to the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy that includes new lecture halls, classrooms, simulation labs, patient assessment rooms, and other vital spaces; and
  • In Newark, 26,000 square feet of renovations of the School of Dental Medicine for labs, offices, sterilizers, decontamination areas, and other uses.

This fall we are opening a number of important new or renovated facilities to complement the excellence of our faculty: New Brunswick Chemistry Building

  • Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on Busch Campus, a 104,000-square-foot facility that features a two-story lecture hall with 300 seats, dedicated lab space for engineering sustainable systems, collaborative work space, and space for 700 students.
  • Also on Busch, the Chemistry and Chemical Biology building—a 145,000-square-foot  research and teaching facility that includes smart classrooms, a microscopy suite, a chemistry clean room, and mass spectroscopy, optical/laser, and x-ray crystallography labs.
  • On Cooper Street in Camden, the Artis Building—rehabilitated historic row houses that now provide 13,000 square feet for offices, a computer lab, and student support spaces, and will host the pioneering Department of Childhood Studies.
  • Renovation of the seventh floor of the Clinical Academic Building, which has provided more than 26,000 square feet of administrative and lab space for the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Department of Medicine.

In the coming year we will move toward completion of additional spaces that will be tremendously valuable to our highly talented students: New Brunswick PAC

  • The Honors Living-Learning Community facility at Rutgers–Newark, with room for 400 honors students;
  • The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, a joint project with the city and other partners, which will be the future home of Mason Gross School of the Arts theater and dance; and
  • The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, a best-in-class training facility for Scarlet Knight student athletes and for sports medicine.

Chancellor Transition

Under the restructuring legislation adopted by the State of New Jersey that transformed Rutgers, new chancellorships were created at Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS, vested with considerable authority within their area of the overall University. However, the roles of these chancellors as defined in the restructuring legislation do not easily correspond to the common definitions in use at other universities and systems in the country. The structure and scope of these chancellorships have continued to evolve over the past five years under the leadership of scholars who have helped write an exciting chapter in our history: Brian Strom at RBHS and Dick Edwards and Deba Dutta at Rutgers–New Brunswick. Rutgers is in a stronger position today, better able to take advantage of the synergies promised by the restructuring, because of their efforts. gates at Old Queens

I am grateful to Dr. Dutta for the year that he served as chancellor at Rutgers–New Brunswick, for the programs he initiated to move the university to a new level of excellence, and for his passionate support of the students. At the same time, I respect his decision to step down from the chancellorship. Following Deba’s resignation in July, I appointed Chris Molloy to serve as interim chancellor of Rutgers–New Brunswick. Dr. Molloy has distinguished himself as dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, senior vice president for research and economic development, and interim chancellor of RBHS during his 11 years at Rutgers. He holds an undergraduate and a professional degree from Rutgers, and has known the university well since his days as a pharmacy student here in the 1970s. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to build on the foundation that Dick and Deba have laid, in conjunction with RBHS, for developing an ever more robust and nationally regarded public research university, and for continuing to strengthen the Rutgers–New Brunswick component of our AAU institution.


Near the top of our list of major achievements over the past year—especially in terms of its potential to change lives and to transform our university’s position in the academic firmament of the nation—is the partnership we have formed with RWJBarnabas Health. As I announced in late July, this new partnership will create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system, bringing together Rutgers’ medical education and research expertise and the skills of Rutgers Health clinical faculty with the clinical care delivery capability of RWJBH to provide world-class care to the residents of New Jersey.Jack Morris, Barry Ostrowsky, Brian Strom, Bob Barchi. Vicente Gracias, Kathleen Bramwell, and Marc Berson

Through this agreement, RWJBH has committed an initial investment of $100 million to the development of Rutgers’ academic and research initiatives in the health sciences, and will provide $50 million per year in mission support over the next twenty years. Within this support commitment, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and RWJBH will grow our academic and research programs in RBHS and recruit approximately 100 new faculty investigators over the coming decade. We anticipate that this will double the research portfolio that RBHS currently holds, strengthening our position as a top AAU university. As part of its investment, RWJBarnabas Health will set aside $10 million to retain top students who establish their clinical practices within the new entity after completing their residency. These funds will strengthen Rutgers’ ability to recruit and retain outstanding medical students, residents, and fellows.

In this partnership, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences will take the lead on all aspects of medical research and education, and RWJBarnabas Health will lead the clinical enterprise, which will include both organizations’ clinical practice groups.

I am incredibly excited about this agreement. We have the potential to change the way people are taken care of, how health care professionals are educated, and how the future of medicine unfolds. And the opportunities it will open for research will be truly game-changing. In the case of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, for example, this partnership will enable us to significantly expand access to the highest-level cancer treatments. Already we are hearing from nationally acclaimed medical clinicians and researchers at other world-class institutions who want to come here and be a part of what we are creating.

For Rutgers as a university, this new partnership, with its commitment of ongoing financial mission support, provides a unique opportunity for us to grow one of the very best health sciences research and clinical faculties in the nation.

No Privatization

I want to stress that this new health system is a partnership between two separate entities. As we stated publicly throughout our negotiations with RWJBarnabas, it is not a merger. It is not a privatization of our unions or labor. There will not be a wholesale transfer of Rutgers jobs to the RWJBarnabas Health payroll or vice versa, and no layoffs are planned at Rutgers. Our faculty and staff will remain Rutgers faculty and staff, with all the same rights and benefits they currently enjoy, and the University will retain control over faculty appointments. Our faculty will continue to report to their department chairs, who in turn will report to school deans, and the deans will continue to report to the chancellor. We fully anticipate that the number of Rutgers Health faculty and staff will increase as this partnership unfolds. Rutgers Health doctors in a lab This new partnership does not affect University Hospital in Newark in any way. The agreement cannot and does not bring UH under control of Rutgers; UH remains an instrumentality of the state. Neither Rutgers nor RWJBH has any legal control over, or financial responsibility for, University Hospital. However, by statute, UH will remain a principal teaching hospital of the Newark-based schools of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

The new agreement embodies the spirit of the University Strategic Plan and advances our overarching aspiration to be recognized among the nation’s finest research universities. In addition to the outstanding care provided to New Jersey residents, it will strengthen the education and research we conduct in the biomedical sciences, attract superb clinicians and scholars, and raise our profile among research universities across the country. 

Chancellor Brian Strom, Senior Vice Chancellors Kathleen Bramwell and Vicente Gracias, and their team have done a brilliant job in negotiating this agreement, and the benefits of the partnership will be felt for decades to come.


Across from the New Brunswick train station is an acres-wide hole in the ground that soon will be a hub of innovation and redevelopment. In March, I joined Governor Murphy and the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) on the Rutgers campus to announce that an incubator for scientific and technological development would be a major element of a new facility to be built on that spot in downtown New Brunswick. This project will bring government, business, and academia together to foster new startup companies and to facilitate the transfer of new technologies to the public sector, drawing on the research expertise of the university and its educational and corporate partners. It will be a prime location for Rutgers to generate the ideas for the innovation economy to which we and the governor are deeply committed.

I met again with Governor Murphy earlier this month to begin mapping out a plan for moving the incubator from concept to reality. As we do so, we are working closely with DEVCO, which has the primary responsibility for developing this valuable center-city site for the City of New Brunswick. We have already held an internal workshop to explore innovation themes, and together with DEVCO and the state, we are exploring institutional partners and reaching out to venture groups. Rutgers is fully committed to this project. It will be good for our research collaboration, for the city, and for the state’s economy. You will be hearing much more about this during the coming year.

Our Partnership with the State

We have been pleased to welcome Governor Murphy to campus multiple times in his first year in office, and honored to host his “100 Days” address in the spring. Our relationship with the new administration in Trenton is a continuation of Rutgers' long-term commitment to serve New Jersey as its state university. Governor Murphy at a Rutgers address

We take pride in the service and support we give to the people of the state—from the outreach programs of the New Jersey Cooperative Extension in every county to the 50,000 hours of free legal services our law schools provide, to the 350 clinical trials we run, to the lifelong learning programs and continuing education classes we offer, and much more. As we proclaimed in the Rutgers Delivers communications campaign we carried out earlier this year, Rutgers contributes in major ways to New Jersey’s prosperity: $5.2 billion in economic activity each year, supporting 58,000 jobs. We return $7 to the state’s economy for every dollar that we receive in state support. Rutgers delivers infographic on the economy

The state budget that Governor Murphy signed in July provides operating aid to Rutgers at the same level as the previous fiscal year. It also provides an increase in funding for employee benefits such as health insurance, and funding increases for the Educational Opportunity Fund and Tuition Aid Grant programs that are so important for our low-income students. While funding in most areas has been flat, the state budget includes additional support for the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Cancer Institute of New Jersey, funding for our effort to expand Rutgers Engineering, a first-ever appropriation for the NJ Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prison consortium that includes Rutgers, and money to help develop a new state-of-the-art facility for Rutgers School of Business–Camden.

Ending Relationship Violence

One way in which state funding is leveraging our expertise for the benefit of all New Jersey residents is in addressing sexual harassment and relationship violence, where Rutgers continues to be a leader among our peers. We have just completed the first year of an initiative funded in part by the New Jersey attorney general through the federal Victims of Crime Act to provide more than $2.5 million in education activities for the Rutgers community and to offer enhanced victim support services on all our campuses. As part of this effort, we launched campaigns such as We R Here to inform students, faculty, and staff about all the programs and services we are using to eliminate relationship violence. The initiative has also provided a range of victim support services to approximately 20 new clients each month since last fall.

Our success in this first year has led to continued state funding at the same level, plus funding for Rutgers to convene a state-wide dialogue among education leaders in 2019 that will explore new approaches and share existing methods for deterring this unacceptable behavior.


As a member of a prestigious conference like the Big Ten, we are inevitably comparing our performance against this group of similarly sized public research universities. As noted earlier, we have improved in our ranking in U.S. News and Rutgers–New Brunswick is now tied for fourth among public Big Ten schools. But there is one area in which we trail the field—our operating margin. And I have no plans for that to change.

With the approval of the Board of Governors, Rutgers operates on the thinnest margin practical because we want to be sure that we are able to maximize expenditures that will make Rutgers affordable and accessible to New Jersey students. While we do not do this recklessly, and we make sure to maintain our operations and our academic integrity, it is vitally important that we keep a Rutgers education within the reach of the students and families we serve.

We face continuing financial challenges, including a flat state appropriation for the current year that actually represents a 6 percent decrease in spendable dollars after adjusting for inflation over the past six years. At the same time many of our expenses, particularly our personnel costs, continue to rise at contractually mandated rates that exceed inflation. Because of these factors, Rutgers is continually looking for ways to reduce operating expenses, to operate more efficiently, and to develop additional sources of revenue.

Developing Additional Revenue Streams for Rutgers

Technology transfer continues to be a regular revenue contributor to the University. Last year, patents and licenses returned $14.5 million to Rutgers. Another important source of support for our core mission is philanthropy, and we continue to focus on strengthening our fundraising performance as a critically important mechanism. Through the good work of Executive Vice President for Development Nevin Kessler and his colleagues in the Rutgers University Foundation, and the generosity of our alumni and friends, the University raised a record amount of private gifts in the past fiscal year: $223.4 million. This total surpassed the prior year’s record by 6.8 percent and was even higher than our own ambitious goal of $215 million for the year. Just as important to note, in reaching this amount, we attracted more than 50,000 donors last year for the first time in our history. 

The bell in Old Queens It is gratifying to know that we are on a positive trajectory, but given our current needs and considerable ambitions, there is much work to do to reach potential donors. In particular, we need to increase the number of alumni who are giving overall, and we must continue our efforts to cultivate major donors to Rutgers. Increasing the number of people who understand the value of investing in Rutgers’ future is crucial to reaching our highest aspirations.

Closely related to fundraising, we have experienced significant endowment growth over the past six years—a trend that is true of most other universities. As of June 30, the total endowment market value stood at $1.29 billion, which represents a more than 85 percent increase over our $693 million total in 2012. Certainly, more growth is needed, but the trend line is encouraging.

Prudent Budgeting

As a public university, Rutgers depends on support through the annual state budget. Of the $4.3 billion operating budget that the Board of Governors approved in July, approximately 20 percent is funded by the state. While we were grateful that our operating aid was kept at the level of the previous year, keep in mind that the line is trending downward. As noted earlier, looking year-over-year, our state funding figure is down by 6 percent from 2013.

For this and many other reasons, Rutgers has been forced to be prudent with our budgeting over the past several years. We have been aided in part by our transition to the Responsibility Center Management budgeting model, and this careful stewardship of our resources has enabled Rutgers to maintain fiscal strength despite the headwinds of declining state appropriations and a volatile political climate.

We will continue to search for ways to operate with maximum efficiency through the improvements we have made, and continue to make, to our administrative systems, which this report will discuss in the coming paragraphs. As we continue those efforts, we will strive in good faith to negotiate contracts with our faculty and staff unions that reflect the value we place in their work across all aspects of the University. The administration is at the table with 21 negotiating units and has held 117 negotiating sessions since March, including 13 meetings with our largest faculty union, AAUP-AFT, with additional dates already scheduled.

It is important to remember that while the University negotiates successor collective negotiating agreements, the University and its unions are bound by the terms and conditions set forth in the expired contracts. When we agree on new contracts, the new terms are applied retroactively to the end of the previous contracts. Thus, none of our faculty or staff will be financially disadvantaged by any prolongation of our bargaining efforts. In other words, there is no loss of benefits or wages while we negotiate. It is my hope that we will be able to conclude the negotiations soon and to the mutual satisfaction of the University and the bargaining units.

Just this week, we settled and ratified agreements with Teamsters Local 97 and FOP Local 164, representing 9 percent of our unionized workforce. In addition, I have authorized a 3 percent across-the-board salary improvement program for certain eligible non-aligned staff employees, retroactive to July 1. Decisions about a similar program for non-aligned employees who are administrative or managerial will be made at a later time.

Solid Bond Ratings

As evidence of our sound fiscal health, we continue to enjoy the benefits of strong bond ratings.  Last year we received an upgraded credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, maintaining our Aa3 stable rating. Earlier this year, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its A+ long-term rating and determination of a stable outlook for all our general obligation bonds.

S&P credited our “extremely strong enterprise profile” to the breadth and depth of our academics and improvements to our management and governance, including our recent focus on enterprise risk management. In rating our financial profile as “adequate,” S&P praised our financial management policies and debt burden.


In the course of the strategic planning process five years ago, a recurring theme was the need to make it easier to conduct business at (and with) Rutgers. A combination of factors, including our decentralized nature, limited resources, and perhaps some bad choices in the past had given us administrative systems that were cumbersome and antiquated. These weaknesses affected our services to students and our interactions with the corporate community, government, and others.

In implementing the strategic plan, it was critically important that we create strong new systems across the enterprise—from student services to procurement to payroll to grants administration—that would make the University a better place in which to learn, work, do research, and conduct business.

As I have discussed in prior reports to the Senate, the University has made tremendous strides in overhauling our administrative systems—both in terms of procedures and in the technological tools we use. Rutgers now has a single universitywide, cloud-based e-mail system that improves security and makes it easier to collaborate. We have introduced new systems for budget planning, human resources and payroll, expense management, procurement, and grant and contract accounting. It took some time, but we fixed a problem that delayed payments to vendors, reimbursements, and the generation of departmental grant reports, and now those elements are running properly.

Here are the most recent steps we have taken in this ongoing systems overhaul:

Chart of Accounts: On July 1, we activated several changes to make the chart of accounts—the organizational tool that business professionals across Rutgers use to track and report on financial information—more user-friendly and better able to serve the university. These improvements included better controls; better education, guidance, and support; and policies to ensure best use of the chart of accounts. In partnership with leaders within the central administration and chancellor-led units, as well as the broader university community, we implemented controls to ensure that the fiscal year 2019 chart of accounts will have accurate and easily reportable data, and we put rules in place that will prevent the inappropriate use of the chart of accounts.

Strategic Sourcing: In order to stretch our dollars, we have launched a systematic effort to implement universitywide, multi-year contract pricing agreements with product and service vendors. These agreements are the result of strategic sourcing initiatives that leverage our buying power.  The suppliers offer us “best-in-class” pricing in exchange for a commitment by Rutgers to use their products and services. We have entered into contracts, for example, with Ricoh for copiers, with Office Depot for office supplies, and with four suppliers for temporary staffing.

Sponsored Research Project Review: Earlier this year, thanks to the new financial management system, we were able to discover that more than 10,000 grants for sponsored projects, both active and expired, carried incorrect reporting data caused by our decentralized legacy systems. This is serious business with significant implications for our ability to qualify for future federal research grants.

I personally led the effort to identify and systematically correct all discrepancies within these grants, and I am pleased to report that we completed Phase 1 of the review. This consisted of verifying all expenses and balances for nearly 5,600 active projects, and reviewing fiscal year 2018 activities to support the FY18 audits. At this point we are confident that budget and expense data relating to active research grants within the university are accurate, reliable, up-to-date, and accessible to investigators and administrators.

We appreciate the responsiveness and support from principal investigators and faculty, grant administrators, business specialists and business managers who partnered with us during this phase. We received responses on 100 percent of the projects that were sent out for field review. Our current effort focuses on inactive and closed grant files that are still resident within the university accounts. We anticipate completing all aspects of this project by the end of December.

HR and Payroll Service Center: Our human resources team and payroll office serve a workforce that numbers more than 28,000 people, and it is essential that we give all employees the best possible support and attention. The University is creating a customer-focused service center that will provide selected human resources and payroll services to all employees in an efficient, simplified, and friendly manner.

Performance Evaluations: The University Strategic Plan declared our intention to build a culture of faculty and staff development. To that end, we are establishing structures to give our staff employees opportunities for professional development. We will soon roll out a new program for performance evaluations that emphasizes accountability and provides clear direction for career advancement.

Concluding Thoughts

At an institution with more than 250 years of history, it seems we are always marking a milestone anniversary. This semester we mark the beginning of one centennial year and the conclusion of another, both of which speak to our values as a public university.

A couple of weeks ago, we broke ground on a plaza on the College Avenue campus that will celebrate the life and legacy of the brilliant Paul Robeson, who graduated from Rutgers as the valedictorian of the Class of 1919. Though it would take another 50 years, and the courageous protests of black student leaders, to make Rutgers fully embrace the diversity that so distinguishes and strengthens us today, Robeson remains a pivotal figure in our history. There is good reason that he is memorialized by buildings and centers across the University. We can’t do any better for our students than to hold up Paul Robeson as the finest example of a Rutgers graduate and a life well lived. Ground Breaking at the Paul Robeson Plaza

Tomorrow, an afternoon-long colloquium titled “The Power of 100 Years: Douglass Centennial Celebration” will celebrate excellence and leadership in women’s education at Rutgers, now a century in the making and as strong as ever. The effort that was begun by the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1918 to establish a college for women in our state, with 54 students, 12 books in its library, and the indomitable Mabel Smith Douglass as its founding dean, has yielded a legacy of outstanding alumnae and vital scholarship. The Douglass Residential College community has been honoring the milestone anniversary with a new book, recognition by the state legislature, and special events throughout the past year. red banner on the Douglass Campus

Let us infuse all our efforts with the spirit of these centennials. In the name of Paul Robeson, who stood up for what he believed at great personal cost, and of Mabel Smith Douglass, who opened the doors of higher learning for countless women and in the process transformed our institution, let us work together to make Rutgers an ever stronger university—an institution devoted to scholarly excellence, social justice, service to others, and opportunity for all.