Pursuing Our Greatness as a State University

September 16, 2011

Members of the Rutgers Community:

Today in New Brunswick I delivered my ninth annual address to the university community. Its title, “A Great State Must Have a Great State University,” is taken from the New Jersey Higher Education Task Force report’s opening sentence about Rutgers.

My address enumerated some of Rutgers’ many achievements over the past several years, for which you deserve thanks for your contributions to these accomplishments. They include the ever-rising demand for a Rutgers education, the top-10 rankings of many academic programs, the abundant benefits of the transformation of undergraduate education, Rutgers’ growing research reputation, the rebirth of the Livingston Campus, and successful outreach programs such as Rutgers Day.

Yet, as I stated in my address, we are not yet where we need to be in order to be called a “great state university”—in part, but only in part, because of the state’s underfunding of Rutgers and the global economic slump. We need to build upon Rutgers’ strengths and develop in greater potency the core characteristics of a great university: discoveries and knowledge that advance humankind; global influence and impact; and the resources—people, facilities, and dollars—to achieve them.

Our path to greatness should include a number of steps that I outlined this afternoon:

  • The proposed integration of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the UMDNJ School of Public Health into Rutgers;
  • New state funding for higher education facilities through a bond issue on the 2012 ballot;
  • Achievement of our billion-dollar fundraising goal, toward which we have raised $575 million;
  • Improved student retention and graduation rates, an increase in out-of-state and international students, and a continued financial commitment to access and diversity;
  • A significant increase in endowed chairs, building on the historic $27 million gift announced this week that will yield 18 permanent new faculty positions; and
  • New investments in marketing and commercializing our research discoveries and an expansion of our international influence and impact, focused in particular in five countries: China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Liberia.

Today I announced that, while Newark and Camden have room to grow, the New Brunswick Campus is at full capacity, and we are therefore planning to reduce the 2012 incoming class on that campus by about 4 percent. Because of improved retention rates, total enrollment in New Brunswick will not decrease, but we are taking this step in order to ensure that the student experience is not compromised by overcrowded classrooms and buses and related problems.

My full remarks are available at president.rutgers.edu/address11.shtml, and I welcome your comments on any of the topics raised.

Sincerely yours,

Richard L. McCormick