President's Recommendations for Transforming Undergraduate Education

March 7, 2006

Members of the New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus Community:

With great pride in Rutgers and with deep gratitude to those of you who participated in this historic discussion, I am pleased to submit my recommendations for undergraduate education in New Brunswick/Piscataway. I am confident that they will dramatically improve students' educational experience by re-engaging faculty in undergraduate life and by providing students with equal access to the rich resources of a great public research university.

These recommendations, which are available along with an executive summary at, will be considered by the Board of Governors at a special meeting on March 10. The board has ultimate responsibility for setting educational policy for the university.

This proposal reflects the remarkable consensus supporting the vast majority of the report by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, as well as the intense discussions of the last eight months, and provides a comprehensive plan for transforming undergraduate education at a 21st-century public research university. It is designed to:

  • Eliminate roadblocks for students and confusion for the public, and open the resources of the university to all undergraduates by establishing a single School of Arts and Sciences with a uniform admissions standard, a core curriculum, and standardized graduation requirements.
  • Create welcoming campus communities at Busch, College Avenue, Cook, Douglass, and Livingston, each headed by a dean, to provide co-curricular programs, local access to student services, and a supportive learning environment.
  • Preserve and expand Rutgers' long-standing commitment to women's education and diversity by establishing the Mabel Smith Douglass Residential College on the Douglass campus; maintaining Douglass as a women-only campus; creating an Institute for Women and Art; appointing an associate vice president to advance women in the sciences; and charging Undergraduate Admissions with aggressively recruiting a diverse entering class.
  • Attract the best and brightest, high-achieving students by offering small, interactive first-year seminars taught by regular faculty; encouraging seniors to participate in a capstone experience; and creating a vibrant, campuswide honors program.
  • Improve physical facilities, especially those on the Livingston campus, including a 2007 groundbreaking for an expanded student center.

The process we have undergone to arrive at these recommendations should serve as a model for collegial analysis and deliberation. From the extensive research conducted by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education to the open debate of the campus forums to the impressive alternate reports and responses submitted by campus groups and individuals, I had before me a wealth of ideas for envisioning Rutgers' future. I carefully considered all of these perspectives as I weighed and wrote my recommendations to the board. I hope you will take the time to read my full proposal, which provides a blueprint for a new public research university.

These recommendations, however, are only a beginning. Should the Board of Governors move to adopt my proposal, which would take effect for new students entering in September 2007, the real work of implementing a major transformation will commence immediately. In that event, I hope I can count on your help to make these substantive and much-needed improvements to undergraduate education at Rutgers. Again, my thanks to everyone who has already contributed to this remarkable and historic discussion.

Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey