President's 2019 Report to the University Senate

Our New Rutgers: A Seven-Year Perspective

September 2019

As I enter my eighth and final year as president of Rutgers, I am pleased to present my seventh annual report to the University Senate.

President Barchi presenting the State of the University AddressThis will be my last annual report to the University, and I thank you all for the incredible privilege of working together with you on the Senate and throughout the University in moving our institution forward.

Let’s take this opportunity to look back at what Rutgers University has accomplished over the past seven years: to recount our achievements, note some of the work that remains, and evaluate where we stand.

When I arrived at Rutgers in September 2012, major changes were already on the horizon—from the higher education restructuring that would lead to Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and a new university organization to the statewide construction bond act that would go on the ballot that November to the negotiations that would lead to our Scarlet Knights’ entrance into the Big Ten. And that was before Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey the next month and caused disruptions to the University and devastation to many parts of the state we call home.

University Strategic Plan CoverWe have come a long way since 2012, thanks to so many people throughout this great community. Rather than approach my report chronologically, I will do so within the framework of the University Strategic Plan, the guiding document that was generated and agreed upon by the entire Rutgers community, and adopted in early 2014. In this report I will touch upon some of the major accomplishments of the past seven years, with my thanks to all those in our community who have contributed to our progress, both in these specific efforts and in all the extraordinary work that has been done across the University.

The University Strategic Plan defined four overarching strategic priorities—build faculty excellence, transform the student experience, enhance our public prominence, and envision tomorrow’s university—as well as a set of foundational elements undergirding those priorities. These priorities and goals fed the plan’s aspiration for Rutgers to be broadly recognized as among the nation’s leading public universities.

Rutgers today would be a different institution than it was in 2014, even without the introduction of a strategic plan.  But because of the University Strategic Plan and the projects and initiatives that have resulted directly or indirectly from that document, Rutgers is far better positioned to fulfill its expanded mission as a comprehensive public research university.  It is truly one university in purpose, in service to New Jersey, and in operation, much better able to support its four constituent parts—Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Rutgers University–Newark, Rutgers University–Camden, and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

New Student Convocation crowdIn pursuing the four strategic priorities of our strategic plan and strengthening the foundation on which they stand, we are creating a new Rutgers.

As we have been building faculty excellence, we have found new academic strength—with greater research productivity, state-of-the-art academic and research facilities, and a renewed commitment to our core strengths in the humanities and sciences. 

In transforming the student experience, we have created better tools to serve our students, maintained and even increased our commitment to access and affordability, and attracted increasing numbers of high-achieving students to our academic community.

In enhancing our public prominence, Rutgers has made reputational gains—both universitywide and within our chancellor-led units—and benefited from the celebration of our 250th anniversary and from the national exposure and institutional cooperation that Big Ten membership has brought us.

Rutgers Nursing student in NICUAnd more than simply envisioning tomorrow’s university, Rutgers is becoming a model 21st century university, creating innovative relationships with the business community, with governments both local and international, and with the state’s leading health care system, RWJBarnabas Health.

All these strategic priorities have been made possible by a serious commitment to building a solid financial, structural, and administrative foundation. We have secured a stronger financial position, installed a budget model that ensures accountability, and unified and modernized administrative systems that better serve our ambitions.

Because of these and related accomplishments, Rutgers is indeed taking its place among the best universities in America.

To set the stage for the strategic plan, Rutgers had to establish how it would function as an institution with a new organizational structure. Through exhaustive conversations across our community, a new organizational construct was developed to encompass the four chancellorships at Rutgers established by the state, including new ones for Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS. This organization creates additional operating and budgetary autonomy for Rutgers University–Newark, for Rutgers University–Camden, and for the combined entity of Rutgers–New Brunswick and RBHS, which together comprise the unit of Rutgers with membership in the Association of American Universities.

The Rutgers president has two roles. One is as leader of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with responsibility for all the chancellor units and their academic programs, students, and faculty. The second is as president of the AAU entity reflecting the joint domains of the chancellors of RBHS and Rutgers–New Brunswick. Each of the four chancellors is responsible to follow up the university-wide strategic planning process by developing strategic plans of their own, incorporating their own leadership and vision but coordinating with the overall University plan.

Although the framework of the University Strategic Plan will be used as a framework for this report, the progress that will be discussed here reflects work done under the rubrics of all these plans, and highlights achievements on all our campuses.

Building Faculty Excellence

The strength and reputation of a university are the product of many factors, but none more essential than the quality of its faculty. Over our history, Rutgers has been fortunate to attract outstanding scholars, many of whom have brought special distinction through their groundbreaking research and discoveries. Professor Alan Goldman and chemistry studentsBut the best universities must constantly renew and build the excellence of their faculty.

In the University Strategic Plan, Rutgers committed to add 150 new tenure-track appointments, to create more endowed professorships and term chairs, and to equip faculty with the tools to flourish, including first-rate research facilities, mentorship programs, and strategic investments in graduate education. Rutgers also committed to targeted investments to maintain excellence in the sciences and humanities.

Although financial considerations and other challenges have kept the University from reaching all its targets in this area, Rutgers has made significant progress in building faculty excellence. An influx of newly endowed chairs in critical disciplines has brought Rutgers a world-class cohort of senior and mid-career scholars. Long-awaited academic and research facilities for chemistry, life sciences, nursing, engineering, and nutritional sciences have been constructed to replace outdated buildings across Rutgers. Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African StudiesAnd more than $50 million is being invested to strengthen Rutgers’ prominence in the humanities and commitment to faculty diversity and mentoring.

While reputation-building is a long game, Rutgers has already experienced growth in faculty research activity and, through the synergies created by school mergers in nursing and law, raised its academic profile and made notable gains in national rankings.

More than doubled externally endowed professorships

Since 2013, the number of externally endowed professorships at Rutgers has more than doubled, from forty-one to eighty-nine, thanks to the addition of professorships coming to Rutgers in the integration of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the establishment of nineteen new named chairs across the University. All but two of those new chairs were created through a match program called the eighteen-chair challenge, by which an anonymous donor agreed to contribute $1.5 million toward each of eighteen academic chairs if other individuals donated the remainder of the required $3 million to endow each chair.

These endowments have enabled Rutgers to appoint world-class scholars in a wide range of fields from cell biology and cancer genomics to public history and humanities, engineering to entrepreneurship, water resources and watershed ecology to philosophy.

Anne C. Mosenthal, Benjamin Rush Endowed Chair in SurgeryA few examples will illustrate the depth of talent recruited to, or kept at, Rutgers to fill these chairs. Anne Mosenthal, the Benjamin F. Rush, Jr. endowed chair in surgery, was the founding director of the nation’s first palliative care division in surgery at New Jersey Medical School. Ted Baker, the George F. Farris chair in entrepreneurship, previously helped to build entrepreneurship and commercialization programs at the University of Wisconsin and North Carolina State University. Luciano D’Adamio, the Krieger Klein endowed chair in Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration research, is among the foremost Alzheimer’s experts and was recruited from Yeshiva University, where he studied age-related neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Created 30 new professorships and term chairs in vital areas

To kickstart the recruitment of new faculty called for in the strategic plan, I created two groups of internally funded chairs—Henry Rutgers Professorships, to be used for recruiting or retaining preeminent senior scholars; and Henry Rutgers Term Chairs, to be used for recruiting outstanding faculty reaching the mid-phase of their careers. Funding for these positions came from presidential strategic funds and did not tap endowment income.

Richard C. Marlink, Henry Rutgers Professor of Global HealthBetween 2014 and 2019, nineteen Henry Rutgers Professorships were created, benefiting Newark, Camden, New Brunswick, and RBHS and bringing Rutgers acclaimed scholars in such fields as chemistry, law, global health, philosophy, African American studies, and advanced manufacturing. In addition, eleven Henry Rutgers Term Chairs have been created, supporting mid-career faculty in areas including digital film, ethics, women’s and gender studies, piano, data science, health sciences, philosophy, planetary geology, and comparative sexuality, gender, and race.

The total number of named or endowed professorships and term chairs at Rutgers is now nearly 120, close to triple the 41 endowed professorships we had in 2012.

Dedicated $42 million to strengthen faculty diversity

As stated in the strategic plan, successful programs to enhance diversity and inclusion start with the right “tone from the top.” In late 2015 Senior Vice President Barbara Lee developed, and I approved, a plan to invest nearly $22 million in presidential strategic funds to recruit, retain, and mentor diverse faculty. Earlier this year, I committed an additional $20 million to the program, which will run until June 2024.

Faculty seated at Mentoring Lunch in Spring 2019Under the initiative, the University provides half the salary support for the first three years of each newly hired faculty member’s service at Rutgers, along with additional funds to support mentoring and retention activities.

Since its inception in 2016, seventy-nine faculty have been hired through this salary support program, in addition to many other diverse faculty whose salaries are fully supported by departments and schools.

Invested $10 million to maintain Rutgers’ prominence in the humanities

In 2015 I asked a key group of faculty from across Rutgers to work with Senior Vice President Lee to recommend strategies for supporting and enhancing the humanities at Rutgers, and for ensuring that the humanities retain their traditional strength and viability as Rutgers grows and changes.

The task force recommended investments in graduate programs, diversity initiatives, and public awareness campaigns, as well as targeted investments in highly ranked disciplines and in areas where strong scholars would raise the profile of the discipline. The task force identified English, history, women’s history, and philosophy as areas of strength meriting targeted investments to maintain their leadership among the nation’s top programs.

In 2016 I committed the University to a five-year, $10 million plan, using presidential strategic funds, to implement key recommendations of the task force. Professor Lauren Grostein and students at the Writers House in CamdenThe plan supported recruitment of distinguished faculty in English, history, women’s history, and philosophy within the School of Arts and Sciences–New Brunswick in anticipation of the retirement of distinguished professors in those disciplines to ensure a continuity of excellence. Three Henry Rutgers Term Chairs in the humanities were also supported by these funds to attract strong junior scholars or retain strong mid-career scholars.

The funding package has additionally provided summer stipends for newly admitted doctoral students in English, history, linguistics, and philosophy, and supported public humanities initiatives in Newark, Camden, and New Brunswick.

Surged in research productivity to rank among the nation’s best

The strategic plan stressed the importance of continuing to improve the quality and volume of Rutgers’ research and scholarship—and this has been accomplished. Since fiscal year 2013, Rutgers’ research and development expenditures rose by more than $200 million to stand at $736.8 million in fiscal year 2018. The integration of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey accounts for a substantial part of this increase, which has enabled Rutgers–New Brunswick to rank among the top 20 public universities in the United States in research expenditures.

Equally significant, over the past several years Rutgers researchers have increased their invention disclosures and patent applications, leading to more company startups and greater licensing revenues. Rutgers holds more than 750 active U.S. patents and is now engaged in 694 active license agreements, accounting for $14.4 million in revenue in fiscal year 2018. Rutgers research success has also resulted in 82 current startups, including two formed last year.

Increased the number of National Academies members at Rutgers

National Academy of Sciences inductees Masayori Inouye and Gabriel Kotliar.Membership in the National Academies is the gold standard of excellence within U.S. research universities.

With the 2019 election of Professors Gabriel Kotliar and Masayouri Inouye to the National Academy of Sciences, Rutgers now claims fifty-four faculty who are members of the National Academies and/or the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an increase from thirty-four since 2012.

Strengthened evaluation of teaching

Through a variety of mechanisms, including coveted year-end awards, the University affirms the value of excellence in classroom teaching. But the strategic plan encouraged a more systematic effort to ensure high quality. A task force convened by Senior Vice President Barbara Lee proposed a more rigorous system of teaching evaluation. Under the new approach, each department will establish a procedure appropriate to its discipline that relies on a combination of student surveys, peer observations, course material review, and other tools—and is used not just for employment-relation decisions but also for helping individual faculty members to improve their own teaching.

The University has also developed career tracks for non-tenure-track faculty and part-time lecturers based on experience, commitment, and teaching quality.

Reorganized academic units to better serve students and faculty

In striving to achieve the strategic plan’s overarching aspiration, Rutgers has worked on many levels to create a single university across multiple locations. The University has completed a series of critical unifications to strengthen its major programs and to realize efficiencies that better serve students and the public.

School of Nursing graduates at CommencementImmediately after the integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers gave RBHS two nursing schools, the University began the process of merging them into a single School of Nursing. The merged school, one of the largest in the country, rose rapidly in national rankings and boasts two programs among those top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report—the Doctor of Nursing (19th) and Master of Science (21st) programs.

In 2015, the University’s two law schools merged to form Rutgers Law School, a single academic unit with locations in Newark and Camden, served by co-deans in each location. The new entity has risen in the U.S. News rankings from 92 before the merger to its current position at 77th.

Most recently, in 2017 the School of Graduate Studies was formed by the merger of the former Graduate School–New Brunswick and the former Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The school supports more than 5,000 students in 63 doctoral and 75 master’s degree programs.

Transforming the Student Experience

A student’s college experience should be challenging, difficult, and at times even frustrating—inside the classroom. But outside the classroom, we must do all we can to remove obstacles so that our students can focus on their coursework and make the most of their time at Rutgers.

The strategic planning process took a hard look at how Rutgers must improve in order to ensure that students enjoy a rewarding experience and graduate on time. The resulting plan called for new personalized learning environments, particularly those that attract high-achieving students, as well as an overhaul of academic supports and student services. For students in New Brunswick, Rutgers also committed to new strategies for reducing travel time and easing congestion on University buses.

The Rutgers of 2019 is attracting students of both extraordinary diversity and high achievement. Rutgers undergraduates have new tools for interacting with the University to pay bills, receive financial aid, and register for classes. New financial aid programs in Camden and Newark, and an institutional determination to minimize tuition increases, are keeping Rutgers affordable for New Jersey families. And we are providing our students with new academic and residential spaces to enrich their Rutgers experience.

Established outstanding honors colleges across Rutgers

In the strategic plan, Rutgers pledged to balance its commitment to maintaining access for all qualified students with enhancing its ability to attract and retain the highest-achieving students from New Jersey and across the nation. Both sides of this balance have been pursued with innovative new programs.

Rutgers-New Brunswick Honors College students studyingThe New Brunswick Honors College, built and opened in 2015, complements the honors programs in the undergraduate schools in New Brunswick, which continue to flourish. The Honors College is drawn from applicants to the undergraduate schools across Rutgers–New Brunswick, representing some of the highest-achieving high school graduates from New Jersey and across the nation. The average incoming Honors College student has an SAT score of nearly 1500 and a grade point average above 4.0. These are students who likely would have enrolled in universities outside New Jersey without the draw of a prestigious opportunity. Each year, some 500 first-year Honors College students live and learn alongside faculty fellows in a residential facility dedicated to the cross-pollination of ideas and collaborative projects among students from a wide array of schools and majors. Throughout their four years they take honors seminars and a common mission course on social innovation. In 2019, the first cohort of Honors College students graduated from Rutgers.

Honors Living Learning Community student JaniQua GuisteIn 2015, Rutgers University–Newark welcomed the first students to its Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), which is revolutionizing the concept of an honors college. The HLLC identifies the homegrown knowledge of talented students, relying not only on indicators such as SAT scores or grade point averages but also on a holistic assessment of talents and characteristics associated with a student’s ability to thrive in college and contribute to the greater good. HLLC students pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum centered on “Local Citizenship in a Global World” and receive personalized academic advising and mentoring. They also receive a residential scholarship and engage with the world through internships, research assistantships, and local or international service opportunities. A state-of-the-art residential facility for HLLC, opening in 2020, includes spaces for classes and collaborative learning. This year Prudential Financial, a fellow anchor institution in Newark, established a $10 million scholarship program to benefit Newark residents enrolling in HLLC—the largest gift ever received by Rutgers–Newark.

Students at Rutgers University-Camden Honors CollegeThe Honors College at Rutgers University–Camden, more than 20 years old, has expanded to include not only first-year students but also transfer and rising sophomores, resulting in a record enrollment of more than 500 students.  Honors College students complete an engagement requirement every semester that involves both service to the campus and community and participation in student life. They also pursue academic “commitments”—second majors, minors, and departmental honors—or undertake academic “enhancements,” such as undergraduate research, internships, and the United Nations Summer Study Program.

Redoubled our historic commitment to access and opportunity

As a state university, Rutgers maintains a commitment to serve students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, with focus on keeping a Rutgers degree affordable for New Jersey families. Tuition increases were held to an average of 2.4 percent from 2013 to 2019, which compares with a 3.9 percent average annual increase over the previous five years.

RU-N to the Top participant Joshua C.In 2016, new financial assistance initiatives were established at Rutgers University–Newark (“RU-N to the Top”) and Rutgers University–Camden (“Bridging the Gap”). Both programs guarantee that students whose family income is $60,000 or less will have their tuitions fully covered, and both have shown strong results. The number of Newark residents enrolled at Rutgers–Newark more than doubled from 2013 to 2019, and their graduation rate has also risen. At Rutgers–Camden, the number of incoming African American undergraduate students more than tripled in a span of three years.

Rutgers University–New Brunswick remains a model of access among its fellow Big Ten public universities. Rutgers–New Brunswick has 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. And our racial diversity continues to grow: sixty-five percent of the incoming first-year class universitywide this year are African American, Latino, or Asian.

Two students at the food pantryThe Rutgers Board of Trustees conducted a study of the financial aid needs of Rutgers students and issued a report in 2018. In support of their own recommendations, the trustees voted to provide $2 million in tuition grants, emergency financial assistance, and operating support to student-based food pantries in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden through 2022. These funds represent the spending allocation from eight separate endowed funds under the control of the Board of Trustees.

Redesigned and improved student services

Students coming to Rutgers deserve a rewarding academic experience marked by personal growth and engagement, and an administrative structure that supports them along the path toward a degree. In 2015, the University launched the Student Experience Improvement Initiative, targeting core student services including enrollment, financial aid, student accounting, and registration.

Camden One-Stop staffRutgers has pursued a one-stop concept for the administrative interactions that students have with the University. A new financial aid website and a check-in app in the financial aid office adopted in 2017 have enabled students to conduct most business online and reduced wait times for in-person support. One-stop service centers have been proposed for each campus, and the first to open, in 2018, was at Rutgers University–Camden. In New Brunswick, staff from the offices of the registrar, financial aid, and student accounting were co-located at Records Hall.

The University introduced a myRutgers student dashboard—an integrated and personalized platform that allows students to perform self-service activities from computers and mobile devices. Student using myRutgers student dashboardDeveloped with extensive student input, the dashboard provides University information, grouped into intuitively named channels for courses and registration, grades, financial aid, and more. Ninety-nine percent of students are using the dashboard, which received 7.7 million hits in its first year.

The strategic plan identified the congested bus system and travel times between classes as impediments to the student experience at Rutgers–New Brunswick. Upon the recommendations of a task force on scheduling, housing, and transportation, Rutgers added 18 buses to the fleet, installed a tracking system to help students know when the next bus will arrive at the nearest stop, and used classroom locations to help determine first-year housing placements. The University has also removed articulated buses from its fleet and is switching to all-electric buses to further improve the bus experience. In addition, New Brunswick now tracks every bus ride, studies real-time data, and adjusts buses accordingly.

Most significantly, a new universitywide course scheduling system—the first major change to the system in decades—has been developed with extensive faculty input. Its purpose is to reduce time to graduation, facilitate the satisfaction of major requirements, and reduce the time spent on University buses.  The computer-based system takes advantage of sophisticated software to optimize course locations and scheduling, making it easier for students to take courses they need for majors, and reduce students’ time-to-degree. The system will optimize 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. For New Brunswick students, it will also reduce travel times between classes. After several rounds of testing in parallel with the existing system, the new system will go live in scheduling courses for the fall 2020 semester.

Used technology to enhance learning and remove roadblocks to success

Technology is increasingly integral to academic life, and the University has made efforts to ensure that technology is helping—and not hindering—students as they navigate their Rutgers careers.

Student in computer lab at new Academic BuildingFor example, the use of learning management systems (LMS’s) for coursework has evolved organically at Rutgers. Over time, schools, campuses, and units have separately adopted their own software platforms, often requiring students to use multiple systems. In 2017 Senior Vice Presidents Barbara Lee and Michele Norin established a working group chaired by Professor Doug Blair to evaluate current needs and move Rutgers toward a single universitywide LMS. In November 2018, Canvas was chosen as the University’s official LMS, a decision designed to foster collaboration, reduce complexity, and simplify the learning and teaching experience.

In 2018, Rutgers used software to improve its deregistration process. In the past, the University deregistered students by a certain date early in the semester if the tuition bill was not paid—even when the reason was out of the student’s control, such as a delayed federal student loan disbursement—and disrupted students’ academic progress. Under the new policy, a software program called RUHere asks students to confirm their attendance for the semester, and accept the financial responsibility of attendance, with a simple click. Only those who confirm they will not attend are deregistered. In its first cycle, 99 percent of all students used the app.

Active learning classroom at Rutgers-New BrunswickRutgers–New Brunswick has developed active learning spaces in eight classrooms and lecture halls located in Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering, the new Rutgers Academic Building, Tillett Hall, and the Chemistry and Chemical Biology building. These spaces employ whiteboards, student and faculty technology, and room architecture to foster student engagement and collaboration. For example, the instructor and students can project images from their laptop, phone, or tablet to screens that can be viewed by the entire class.

Rutgers has also innovated with technology to reduce student travel and expand access. Telepresence video technology was introduced at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in 2017, making it possible for one professor to teach a course in two separate classrooms, with students choosing the location most convenient to them (and avoiding bus travel). The technology available in these immersive classrooms—one on the Busch Campus, the other on Douglass Campus—allows a professor to teach in one location and interact with students in the other classroom as if they’re all in the same room. Approximately 1,700 students take advantage of telepresence classrooms each semester in courses that range from logic to exercise physiology, the life of primates to theater appreciation.

A similar technology has been employed by Rutgers Law since 2015, enabling simultaneous courses to be offered in Camden and Newark. Students in both locations can see each other by way of a 200-inch high-definition monitor with conference connectivity in specially fitted classrooms at each location. These classrooms have increased the number of courses available to law students in Camden and Newark and enabled some classes on specialized topics to take place by drawing from a larger pool of students.

Created new spaces to enrich student life

15 Washington StreetThe strategic plan enumerated several major construction projects under way across Rutgers, including three designed to enhance the student experience: the 500-bed residential Honors College in New Brunswick, the 125-unit, 500-bed apartment-style housing complex (now called Sojourner Truth Student Apartments) on College Avenue in New Brunswick, and the renovated 1920s high-rise building at 15 Washington Street in Newark to house 350 students. All these projects have been completed and are highly valued residential choices for Rutgers students.

Additional construction projects have been completed or planned that benefit student life, including the Kathleen W. Ludwig Global Village Living Learning Center on the Douglass Campus; Express Newark, a university-community arts collaborative created within the iconic former Hahne’s & Co. department store; new recreation and athletic fields for intercollegiate and intramural sports in Camden; and the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

Provided national leadership in addressing sexual violence

There is no higher priority in creating a positive student experience than to ensure the safety of our students—and to support those who have suffered violence. Thanks to the good work of our Center on Violence Against Women and Children and our student affairs divisions, Rutgers has been recognized as a leader in addressing and preventing sexual violence.  The Obama administration’s White House Task Force to Protect Students asked Rutgers to pilot a survey on sexual violence, and our report was incorporated into a resource guide the White House made available to colleges and universities across the country.

End Sexual Violence logoIn 2017, Rutgers won a $2 million grant through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to expand services to victims of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The VOCA funding, administered through the state attorney general’s office, supports training and education programs to make students aware of available resources and reporting options. The University received another grant in 2018 and has just been awarded an additional $5 million in VOCA funding over the next two years.

Rutgers took further steps to address sexual misconduct in 2018 by removing its two-year limitation on institutional investigations of sexual harassment and misconduct. In addition, the University established the Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change, comprising students, faculty, and staff, to address these issues in teaching and research relationships involving faculty and students at all levels.

Enhancing Our Public Prominence

The overarching aspiration expressed in the University Strategic Plan was “to be broadly recognized as among the nation’s leading public universities: preeminent in research, excellent in teaching, and committed to community.” It is not enough to be excellent; gaining recognition for that excellence is critical, as it opens myriad opportunities—from recruiting the best students and scholars to winning research grants to securing major gifts from foundations and donors.

Empire State Building lit up in red for Rutgers 250th anniversary

The Empire State Building image ® is a registered trademark of ESRT Empire State Building, L.L.C. and is used with permission.

Rutgers’ strategic plan put forth a strategy for strengthening the University’s public perception by exploiting timely milestones, including the entry of Rutgers–New Brunswick intercollegiate athletics into the Big Ten Athletic Conference and our 250th anniversary in 2016. Rutgers committed to initiatives to build the University’s brand, attract strong students from New Jersey and beyond, and communicated the distinctive strengths of Newark, Camden, New Brunswick, and RBHS to the wider community.

While there is more work to be done to match the high quality of Rutgers’ academic strengths with the overall public perception of the institution, we have made important gains in national rankings, in marketing within and beyond the state, and in taking our rightful place among the outstanding athletic and academic institutions that constitute the Big Ten. We have engaged in the public square as well, adding Rutgers voices to vital national policy debates. And our students have repeatedly excelled in national and international competitions, further enhancing our reputation.

Celebrated 250th anniversary and reckoned with our history

The strategic plan recognized the unique opportunity that the impending 250th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1766 would provide for showcasing both Rutgers’ long history and its current strengths.

President Barack Obama at 2016 Rutgers CommencementThe University carried out a year-long and broadly inclusive commemoration of Rutgers 250, with hundreds of informational, scholarly, musical, contemplative, and celebratory programs across our campuses, around New Jersey, in Washington, D.C. and in the Netherlands. In addition to building pride among alumni, students, faculty, and staff, Rutgers 250 generated more than 14,000 favorable news stories that earned millions of impressions worldwide.

The year’s most noteworthy highlight was the historic visit of President Barack Obama as University Commencement speaker on May 15, 2016 before a packed stadium, where he declared, “America converges here.”

The 250th anniversary also occasioned a critical examination of Rutgers’ early history, particularly its ties to slavery. In November 2016, a group of Rutgers–New Brunswick faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates, the Committee on Disenfranchised and Enslaved Populations, issued their first volume of Scarlet and Black, which confronts our founders’ participation in the slave trade, our debts to the many enslaved men and women whose labor was used to build Rutgers, and our institution’s role in displacing the Lenni Lenape. The committee also issued a series of recommendations for recognizing and atoning for Rutgers’ past actions without erasing its history.

In response, the Board of Governors approved the renaming of three spaces at Rutgers–New Brunswick to reflect our history: the Sojourner Truth Apartments at the Yard, honoring the abolitionist and women’s rights activist who was once owned by the family of Rutgers’ first president, Jacob Hardenbergh; the James Dickson Carr Library on Livingston, named for Rutgers’ first African American graduate; and Will’s Way at the Old Queens Building, which honors an enslaved man who laid the foundation for the building at the heart of the New Brunswick campus.

Major components of the Rutgers 250 commemoration also included:Revolutionary monument

  • a national award-winning illustrated history book
  • publication of a scholarly history of Rutgers since 1945
  • a multimedia "Revolutionary for 250 Years" advertising campaign
  • a 12-minute film, “Our Revolutionary Spirit,” highlighting Rutgers pioneers from Simeon DeWitt to Paul Robeson to Milton Friedman to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • expansion of Rutgers Day to Newark and Camden
  • three presidential symposia on the future of higher education

The year culminated with “A Day of Revolutionary Thinking” in which 80 distinguished alumni gave lectures in their fields of expertise, followed by fireworks in New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark and the lighting of the Empire State Building in red.

Made reputational gains in national rankings

At the time the University Strategic Plan was published, Rutgers was in the midst of a downward trajectory in the national rankings. Since 2016, Rutgers–New Brunswick has improved by ten positions in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In the same publication’s rankings, Rutgers–Newark currently stands fourth among all national universities in the new category of advancing social mobility. And as evidence of its growing stature, Rutgers–Camden moved from being ranked among regional universities in the north to being listed among national universities for the first time this year.

These rankings have followed improvements in national rankings for several individual schools and academic programs, including the nursing, law, and business schools, over the past five years. In addition, numerous Rutgers undergraduate majors have been ranked in the top ten, including:

  • health professions
  • social work
  • human resource management
  • criminal justice
  • nutrition science
  • information science
  • biological and biomedical sciences
  • general biology
  • natural resource management
  • public health
  • animal science
  • atmospheric sciences and meteorology
  • music
  • biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology.

Established Rutgers’ academic and athletic place in the Big Ten

Rutgers–New Brunswick Athletics has made its transition to the Big Ten Conference and has competed in the conference since the 2014-15 academic year. Rutgers also participates in the Big Ten Academic Alliance and has taken a leadership role in several areas of collaborative research, including regenerative medicine, bioexploration, and visualization and data analytics for homeland security.

Casey Murphy, member of Rutgers Final Four soccer teamCompeting in the Big Ten is as hard as Rutgers imagined, and there is much work to do in order to achieve competitiveness across all sports. But there have been several examples of outstanding performances since Rutgers joined the conference.

The Scarlet Knights women’s soccer team has earned its way to the NCAA playoffs seven years in a row, including a Final Four appearance in 2015. Men’s lacrosse has consistently been ranked among the nation’s top 20 teams. In 2018, the Scarlet Knights field hockey team won 13 games and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fist time since 1986. The wrestling team has become a perennial power, with teammates Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault making history in 2019 by earning national titles. The Scarlet Knights men’s basketball team was cited by Sports Illustrated as the nation’s most improved Division 1 program in 2018-19.Rutgers 2019 NCAA wrestling champions Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault

The administration remains committed to reducing support for athletics from the University’s operating budget. Rutgers becomes a full equity partner of the Big Ten in fiscal year 2021.

Athletic Director Pat Hobbs has led a successful $100 million fundraising campaign to enable Rutgers to design and construct top-notch athletic facilities that will keep our student athletes competitive with their Big Ten counterparts. In its first phase, the R Big Ten Build Fund enabled Rutgers to construct the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center—a spectacular new facility for our basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics teams and a sports medicine program—as well as complete several projects, including the:

  • Marco Battaglia football practice complex;
  • Fred Hill training complex;
  • Ron & Joanna Garutti and Harriet & Bob Druskin strength and conditioning centers; and
  • Abe Suydam men’s basketball locker room.

Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center renderingThe R Big Ten Build’s second phase will include the Gary & Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success, which will also be home to the lacrosse and soccer programs, and an upgraded football locker room in the Hale Center.

Under Athletic Director Hobbs, the department has significantly strengthened its commitment to ethical management of the athletic program.  Newly created positions include a chief compliance officer, two new directors of compliance, and a new coordinator of student-athlete services, and the Office of Athletic Compliance has implemented a program to educate coaches, student athletes, and others about NCAA and institutional policies as well as relevant state and federal regulations.  In addition, head coaching contracts now include specific language regarding responsibilities related to academics and compliance.

Rutgers–Newark’s Scarlet Raiders and Rutgers–Camden’s Scarlet Raptors, which compete athletically in Division III, have provided their own highlights and achievements in recent years, bringing pride and prominence to Rutgers. The Rutgers–Newark men’s soccer team was nationally ranked in the 2018 season, and the Scarlet Raiders women’s basketball won the 2019 New Jersey Athletic Conference championship. Two Rutgers–Camden track team members earned All-America honors in 2019, and the Scarlet Raptors golf team has been conference champion in eight of the past 11 years.

Engaged effectively in national policy discussions

Over the past five years, particularly since the presidential election of 2016, the Rutgers community has engaged frequently with political and public policy issues.  I have communicated with the Rutgers community more than a dozen times on national issues as well as matters of free speech and academic freedom.

The Rutgers administration has stood firmly in support of undocumented students. In statements I issued in late 2016, the University pledged to protect student confidentiality and stated that our police do not inquire into the immigration status of students or other persons unless a serious crime is committed. Student demonstration at RutgersI also co-signed a letter through the Association of American Universities supporting continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era executive order protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.  Rutgers community members reacted strongly to President Trump’s September 2017 declaration that he would rescind DACA unless Congress moved swiftly to enact a legislative solution. A total of more than 45,000 letters were sent to members of Congress from Rutgers students, faculty, staff, and alumni urging passage of legislation to protect Dreamers at colleges and universities across the nation.

In January 2017, the Trump administration issued an executive order barring entry or re-entry to the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations. The Rutgers administration joined with colleges and universities across America in protesting the travel ban, and the University offered counseling to students and other Rutgers community members about immigration law and related concerns. Later in 2017, the University established the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project, based at Rutgers Law School, to further assist in navigating immigration laws and regulations.

Student audience member at Fighting Hate SymposiumPrompted by a series of controversies around statements, actions, and social media postings by members of the University community, the Rutgers administration has declared its strong defense of First Amendment rights and academic freedom—even when the viewpoints expressed are opposed to the University’s values.

I posted and maintain a Statement on Free Speech and Academic Freedom on the president’s website and have communicated that message in several e-mails to the Rutgers community. The statement declares, in part:

Academic freedom—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—is a cornerstone of American higher education.  Our university is a community of diverse ideas; we value academic freedom’s protections that enable our faculty to state their views and engage in lively discourse. At Rutgers we encourage our faculty to explore new and sometimes controversial ideas and to subject assumptions to scrutiny, all within the boundaries of civil and respectful discourse, which academic freedom requires.

Celebrated student success

Rutgers students have repeatedly won prestigious competitions and highly competitive scholarships over the past five years, further raising the University’s national profile.

2019 Gates Cambridge Scholarship winner Sridhar SriramRutgers has been a top producer of Fulbright student awards for ten consecutive years, and in 2018-19, won more Fulbright awards than every other public university except for the University of Michigan.

Since 2014, Rutgers students have also won Gates Cambridge, Truman, Goldwater, Schwarzman, Luce, Churchill, and Mitchell scholarships. Teams of Rutgers students have won national and international competitions, including the $1 million global Hult Prize, which rewards social entrepreneurism; the national College Fed Challenge sponsored by the Federal Reserve; and two national collegiate debate championships.

Envisioning Tomorrow’s University

The first priority articulated in the University Strategic Plan was to envision the university of tomorrow. The business model for public universities of the latter half of the 20th century, when state governments invested heavily in public higher education and were the largest contributor to a university’s budget, no longer holds. Constant advances in technology, a changing student demographic, and vast shifts in the economy have demanded innovative approaches to teaching, learning, and interacting with the public and private sectors.

Rutgers’ strategic plan envisioned a future driven by technological changes in higher education, a rethinking of the structure of the University, and the need for deep and innovative relationships with the corporate community and government.

Surgery professional in scrubs in operating roomToday Rutgers is a new and truly comprehensive university, adding a significant new element to our public mission—to provide world-class academic health care to the people of New Jersey. With a bold and visionary master plan to guide our physical development, we are forging important relationships with industry, most especially with the state’s largest health care provider, and with government leaders to put the best of our research prowess to work for the benefit of 21st century society.

Fully integrated RBHS and became a comprehensive research university

The statutorily dictated integration of much of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) into Rutgers occurred in July 2013, in the middle of our strategic planning process. Through that act Rutgers became one of the largest comprehensive research universities in the country. Over the past six years, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) has been fully integrated into the University, administratively and academically, under the leadership of Chancellor Brian Strom, who eliminated an annual operating deficit (inherited from the legacy UMDNJ) of more than $40 million through improvements in fiscal management and the faculty’s generation of additional revenue from grants and clinical care.

Martin J. Blaser and Maria Gloria Dominguez-BelloIn building the strength of RBHS, Chancellor Strom has recruited to Rutgers eminent leaders in such fields as cancer research (Steven Libutti), translational science (Reynold Panettieri), global health (Richard Marlink), and behavioral health care (Frank Ghinassi). In recruiting Martin Blaser, Maria Gloria Dominguez Bello, and Liping Zhao, Rutgers now has three of the nation’s top microbiome researchers.

Two recent national awards have underscored the growing excellence of RBHS. In August 2018, Rutgers Cancer Institute earned re-designation by the National Cancer Institute as New Jersey’s only comprehensive care center, along with a $15.1 million grant announced eight months later. Dr. Eileen White in her lab with a studentThis designation is a competitively awarded distinction held by only 49 centers across the nation. And in March 2019, a Rutgers-led consortium of New Jersey research universities secured the Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health—a highly competitive award focused on shortening the time between basic science breakthroughs and life-saving clinical treatments. The five-year, $29 million grant was awarded to the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, which includes Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Partnered with RWJBH to provide world-class academic health care

Rutgers Health, a clinical arm of the University announced in 2016 that includes all clinical care programs, enables Rutgers to give New Jersey residents access to the very best clinical care, delivered by those who are researching new therapies to treat illness and maintain wellness. The Rutgers Health Group, an integrated multi-specialty faculty practice of more than 1,000 providers, went into effect in 2017.  The group partners with patients, hospitals, and community clinicians to deliver high-quality health care in clinical settings throughout the state. It functions as a separate, nonprofit subsidiary of the University to administer its academic clinical practice.

In 2018, Rutgers formed a partnership with RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) to create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system. The partnership brings together Rutgers’ medical education and research expertise and the skills of Rutgers Health clinical faculty with the clinical care strength of RWJBH. Jack Morris, Barry Ostrowsky, Brian Strom, Bob Barchi. Vicente Gracias, Kathleen Bramwell, and Marc BersonThrough the agreement, RWJBH committed an initial investment of $100 million to the development of Rutgers’ academic and research initiatives in the health sciences, as well as $50 million per year in operating support for twenty years. This will enable Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences to recruit approximately 100 new faculty within the coming decade and double the research that RBHS conducts. In the partnership, RBHS will lead all aspects of medical research and education, and RWJBH will lead the clinical enterprise.

Forged transformational international relationships

The public research university of the 21st century is fully engaged with the world, seeking to apply the fruits of its scholarship in innovative ways to improve lives, create opportunities, and solve problems not only within its home state but across the globe.

Rutgers has been globally engaged across many disciplines, with hundreds of faculty members involved in research projects around the world. For example, the New Jersey Medical School’s Global Tuberculosis Institute—one of four National Tuberculosis Centers of Excellence recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—has been involved for more than 25 years in the effort to conquer and cure TB worldwide. RBHS faculty are engaged in a project that instructs dieticians in Malaysia in nutrition-focused physical examination. Business faculty are studying and working to strengthen supply chains for international disaster relief.

Two students walking in a field in GreeceIn addition to school and chancellor-level support for global scholarship, the Rutgers Global office has encouraged deeper involvement universitywide by awarding annual seed grants for projects that conduct international collaborative research or further internationalize the Rutgers curriculum.

Two of the most recent examples of Rutgers’ international engagement take innovative approaches to supporting social and economic growth.

In 2018, an initiative led by Rutgers–New Brunswick received a $27.5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to train young people in Greece for jobs in agriculture and food-related businesses. Rutgers is partnering with two Greek academic institutions to create employment opportunities for unemployed youth in one of that country’s most important economic sectors. We bring to this initiative expertise within the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the Agricultural Experiment Station, including the success of our Food Innovation Center. This grant is the largest by a philanthropic foundation in Rutgers’ history.

Signing of partnership between Rutgers and Botswana in February 2019In 2019, Rutgers signed an agreement with leaders in the Republic of Botswana to launch the Botswana-Rutgers Knowledge Collaborative, an initiative to exchange knowledge and develop programs that help Botswana address its strategic development goals. Led by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi and myself as Rutgers president, the partnership focuses on health care, information technology, higher education and research, entrepreneurship, and civic leadership to help Botswana transform from a predominantly natural resource-based economy into a knowledge-based one.

Unique in its nature—a partnership between a university and a nation—the collaboration centers on the creation of a knowledge hub in Botswana, powered by the same technology that enables digitally connected classrooms at Rutgers. By using this technology to convene working groups, develop training sessions, and share ideas, Rutgers and Botswana will focus on moving knowledge instead of people.

Building a Firm Foundation for Success

Rutgers seeks to be known and admired for brilliant faculty, a robust and rewarding student experience, life-changing research and clinical care, and service and expertise that benefit communities and advance society.  We recognize, however, that achieving these ambitions depends on establishing a firm foundation of excellence in day-to-day operations. Student success, faculty innovation, and high-quality service depend on an organization that is well-run, well-funded, and committed to an ethos of professional accountability and integrity.

In carrying out our strategic plan, Rutgers has made substantial investments to strengthen and overhaul our financial and administrative systems, employing best-in-class products and processes. We have made strategic efforts to boost annual fundraising. Rutgers has enhanced its advocacy and partnership with state and federal leaders. Just as important, we have committed ourselves to a culture of service and support (both internally and with the public), to high standards of integrity, and to rigorous assessment of our progress.

Secured a stronger financial position, with record fundraising and endowment

As outlined and anticipated in the strategic plan, the University has taken several steps to strengthen its fiscal management and to improve its financial position.

Old Queens bellRutgers adopted its Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budgeting system for fiscal year 2016.  A budgeting model used in some form by many other academic institutions, including the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Arizona, RCM rewards innovative thinking by deans, research center directors, and other leaders of academic and administrative units. RCM places both the resources and the expenses with each school, center, and administrative unit—enabling managers to understand what the real costs associated with their operations are and encouraging entrepreneurial business decisions by academic leaders and staff managers.

RCM has had a strong and positive impact across Rutgers, giving chancellors and deans a better tool to manage costs and identify areas where they need to concentrate efforts to lower costs and/or find creative means of increasing revenues. RCM has also put units on a consistent basis in terms of space and service usage.

Due to Rutgers’ sound fiscal health, the University has enjoyed strong bond ratings.  In 2017, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Rutgers’ outlook to stable and maintained its Aa3 rating. In 2018, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its A+ long-term rating and determination of a stable outlook for all Rutgers’ 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 2019, the agencies maintained these ratings for Rutgers bonds.

Chart showing annual fundraising growth from $95 million in 2012 to $251 million in 2019Under the leadership of Nevin Kessler, appointed shortly before the completion of the strategic plan, the Rutgers University Foundation has made notable progress in increasing the private gifts coming to Rutgers. In December 2014, Rutgers completed its first billion-dollar capital campaign. In fiscal 2017 the Foundation set a new fundraising record in raising $209 million, more than double the amount Rutgers had raised in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2018, the Foundation raised $223 million, including two of the largest gifts in Rutgers’ history. In fiscal 2019, we reached a new fundraising record of $251 million.

The University has hired professional staff for management of its endowment, including a director of investments and support staff.  Further, with the advice and consent of the governing boards’ Joint Committee on Investments, it has revised its strategic investment allocation and engaged a new investment consultant.  The endowment is now poised to take advantage of investment opportunities within prescribed acceptable risk, and it has grown—through redirection of idle funds, payment on pledges, and investment performance—to become the 82nd largest endowment in U.S. higher education, up from 102nd.

Overhauled, unified, and modernized administrative systems

In the course of the strategic planning process, a recurring theme was the need to make it easier to conduct business at (and with) Rutgers. Many administrative systems were cumbersome and antiquated, affecting services to students and interactions with the corporate community, government, and others. To complicate matters, legacy UMDNJ employees were operating under a different administrative system than that used for legacy Rutgers employees. In implementing the strategic plan, it was critically important to 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.

Rutgers has made tremendous strides in overhauling its administrative systems—procedurally and in the technological tools it uses.

Chart of improved financial management, grants accounting, human resources, payroll, reimbursement, and email systemsThe University replaced a plethora of e-mail systems with Rutgers Connect, a universitywide, cloud-based product to which all faculty and staff e-mail accounts have been migrated, consolidating more than 100 departmental e-mail servers. Beyond its improved security—marking hundreds of thousands of messages as spam each week—Rutgers Connect is enabling Skype calls, video conferencing, and the storage of more than 6 million files.

Through the efforts of a team led by Executive Vice President Mike Gower and Senior Vice President Michele Norin, new and unified systems have been established for budget planning, human resources and payroll, expense management, and procurement, as well as student services and grant and contract accounting. For example, the University replaced a long and complex paper-based expense management process with an online system that has reduced the reimbursement time from forty-five days to three or four. Similarly, the new procurement tool, RU Marketplace, creates a single purchasing and payables process, with standardized internal purchase-order processes for internal suppliers.

The changes integrated UMDNJ and Rutgers systems into one; they have placed better analytical tools in the hands of Rutgers employees; they have increased accountability under the Responsibility Center Management budgeting model; and they will save both time and money.

Forged more effective relationships with New Jersey leaders

In an era of intense financial pressures on state government, which no longer provides the majority of operating funds for public higher education, universities like Rutgers must maintain close working relationships with government leaders while building ever-stronger partnerships with the business communities that will employ our students and translate the results of our research into useful products. Rutgers has made important progress in both regards over the past five years.

In 2014, Rutgers established the Office of Corporate Engagement, and its website,, to provide a central point of entry for industry engagement on all Rutgers campuses. The office manages corporate contacts and tracks internal and external research partnerships.  In 2018, the University launched the Rutgers Corporate Engagement Center, a joint venture between the Office of Research and Economic Development and the Rutgers University Foundation, to promote opportunities for sponsored research, technology commercialization, talent recruitment, executive education, and strategic philanthropy. Since 2014, corporate research support has increased, on average, greater than 25 percent each year. In fiscal 2017, corporate philanthropic investments in Rutgers surpassed $40 million for the first time.

Cover of the Rutgers Grows the Garden State economic impact report

Under Senior Vice President Peter J. McDonough, Jr., the Department of External Affairs has strengthened its presence and effectiveness in Trenton. Since 2016, the Office of State Government Affairs has increased its average monthly contacts with government leaders from about 280 contacts per month to 600 per month.

In 2017, Rutgers published an analysis demonstrating the University’s considerable impact on New Jersey’s economy. The report, “Rutgers Grows the Garden State,” found that Rutgers annually generates $5.2 billion in economic activity in New Jersey, supports 58,000 New Jersey jobs, and indirectly accounts for $800 million in state and local taxes. Further, the University delivers a 7-to-1 return on investment—for every dollar the state invests in Rutgers, the University returns nearly seven dollars to the state’s economy. Rutgers Delivers logoThis report was distributed to all state government and business leaders, the media, and the public.  A follow-up public awareness campaign in 2018 titled Rutgers Delivers amplified the findings.

Established a rigorous commitment to accountability and integrity

True to the strategic plan, the University has made a firm commitment to accountability for results, with clearly defined metrics that enable Rutgers to measure its progress both internally and against peers. I have worked with the governing boards to identify and track more than 50 indicators on a quarterly and yearly basis, including financial health, diversity, faculty performance, national rankings, student achievement, media coverage, and student satisfaction. Senior administrators are held accountable for progress—or lack thereof—on relevant indicators in their annual performance reviews.

The strategic plan also called for better management of Rutgers’ reputation and of risk factors that might harm it. Coinciding with the plan’s creation, the University launched an enterprise risk management system whose work has expanded in subsequent years. The office, now called University Ethics and Compliance and led by Senior Vice President Timothy Fournier, identifies and analyzes risks to Rutgers’ reputation, provides education and training regarding regulatory and policy requirements, and responds to incidents of non-compliance. The office has done extensive work on issues involving athletics, health care, Title IX, privacy regulations, and professional ethics.

The Physical Environment

Nursing and Science Building at Rutgers CamdenLeveraging state funding from the 2012 Building Our Future Bond Act, the first New Jersey higher education construction bond act since 1988, Rutgers has constructed major new or expanded academic facilities in Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and Piscataway.

The past seven years has been the most active period of campus construction since the 1960s—and, guided by a new physical master plan, more growth is on the way.

Developed forward-looking physical master plan

In 2015, the Board of Governors approved a comprehensive physical master plan that developed a detailed vision for the future of Rutgers’ campuses in Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and Piscataway. Like the strategic plan, 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.

Physical Master Plan rendering of New Brunswick Campus changesThe new plan is the most comprehensive master plan Rutgers has ever had. It helps 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 New Brunswick, the master plan envisions a transformed College Avenue with a new dining hall, student center, and green space leading to the Raritan River, as well as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting Livingston and College Avenue campuses.

The master plan for Newark opens up the campus with a new college walk from Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard to Military Park and better serves commuters with a transit hub at Conklin Hall.

In Camden, in addition to new facilities for business education and for scientific research, the master plan calls for substantially renovated classrooms and other learning spaces, creates a new welcome center, and continues to reinvigorate Cooper Street.

With the production of the RBHS Master Plan in 2017, the final piece of the University Physical Master Plan was completed.  Ongoing planning efforts for various divisions and units delve deeper into physical space issues, and as a result help to evolve the broader physical master plan.

Constructed world-class academic and research spaces

From 2013 to 2019, the University embarked on or completed $2.5 billion in construction projects, including facilities for the life sciences, business, nursing and science, chemistry, engineering, pharmacy, dental medicine, nutrition, microbiology, performing arts, and the humanities.Weeks Hall of Engineering and hyperlink to video on new academic facilities

The latest buildings to open, with their ribbon cuttings earlier this month, are spectacular showcases for our talented students: the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, where Mason Gross School of the Arts students will learn, train, and perform; and the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, which will be the home of our men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics teams as well as the site of an outstanding sports medicine program.

Where Rutgers Stands

Rutgers today is a different institution from what it was seven years ago: bigger and better, with an expanded mission and aiming to reach even higher as one of the nation’s most important and influential universities.

As the University welcomes a new president in 2020, many challenges remain for Rutgers in the coming years. These include:

  • Continued pressure on university budgets
  • Attracting a high-achieving and diverse student body
  • Maintaining and replacing aging campus infrastructure
  • Achieving an ideal mix of in-state and out-of-state undergraduates
  • Defining the optimal structure of academic units
  • Engaging alumni as advocates for Rutgers
  • Keeping pace with faculty recruitment in critical disciplines

And other big issues challenge colleges and universities across the nation:

  • The value proposition for, and financing of, higher education
  • The campus social environment and sexual violence>
  • Freedom of speech and academic freedom
  • Climate change, carbon footprint, and proactive planning
  • Immigration, DACA, and related issues affecting students
  • Diversity in, and access to, higher education

Today, Rutgers is well-positioned to address these challenges and seize opportunities for further success.

Gate to Winants Hall on Somerset Street and College AvenueMore students than ever—highly qualified and highly diverse—are seeking a Rutgers education and earning a Rutgers degree. Our campuses have been transformed by important new academic and student facilities. Rutgers faculty are winning more funding awards than ever for their life-changing research.

Rutgers is providing first-rate academic health care to New Jersey families. Record numbers of our alumni are giving back to their alma mater. Rutgers has forged a strong partnership with state and federal elected officials. Our endowment is growing, and our financial position is strong.

We are becoming the academic, health, and research powerhouse that the strategic plan envisioned.  Rutgers is improving the human condition, here and around the world.

There are many people whose hard work stands behind the momentum Rutgers has gained over the past seven years. The governing board members who have brought thoughtfulness and vision to their volunteer leadership roles. Chancellors and deans who have embraced the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to a changing Rutgers. Commencement cap reading And the Story ContinuesAn energized alumni body and other generous donors and foundations who have made possible some of our best new programs and most important facilities. Gifted faculty on all our campus making exciting discoveries and inspiring their students to pursue new knowledge and meaningful careers. Administrators and staff who make Rutgers operate with increasing efficiency, innovation, and excellence. Members of the University Senate and others who make our model of shared governance work so well. Leaders in government and business who recognize the value of Rutgers and have added to it by their partnership. Most of all, our students—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—who challenge us all to do our best and whose achievements here and beyond their years at Rutgers are the true measure of our success.

To all these members of the Rutgers community, I offer my thanks and admiration. I look forward to the coming year and to our transition to new leadership as we continue to make Rutgers an ever-better place to live, learn, and work.Chart showing changes at Rutgers from 2012 to 2019 in student impact, faculty excellence, and institutional growth