A Great Institution, and a Great Team

by Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick
As submitted; published in the Bergen Record in November 2006

Recently at Rutgers, a remarkable achievement by one of our most historic programs has generated interest and excitement. I am, of course, referring to the Rutgers Philosophy Department, recently ranked second in the English-speaking world in a well-respected survey of philosophers.

People across New Jersey and the nation are also noticing the newfound success of the Rutgers football team, which is ranked in the Top 10 for the first time in school history. But football is hardly the first of the university's programs to earn national and worldwide distinction.

A wide range of Rutgers academic programs—from history and practical mathematics to genetics and biophysical chemistry—are consistently considered among the finest in their fields.

Academic achievement has been and always will be first and foremost at Rutgers.

It is simply ludicrous to suggest otherwise—as some have attempted to do in recent weeks.

For example, in a package of articles published November 5 and in a November 8 editorial, The Record stated that football is "the favored child" at Rutgers and that its budget "hit a new high" last season. Regrettably, the newspaper failed to put this information into any meaningful context.

The annual budget for the football program is $13 million—less than 1 percent of the university's total annual budget of $1.6 billion.

In contrast, the combined funding for instruction, research, libraries, and student financial aid will exceed $1 billion at Rutgers this academic year.

The football program and the unprecedented national attention that it has generated have sparked far greater interest in the university and its many academic accomplishments.

College football's popularity in this country is at an all-time high, and the success of the Scarlet Knights serves as a window into the university's many other areas of excellence. Once that window is opened, millions of people in New Jersey and beyond are taking a closer look at a comprehensive public research university with a richly diverse community, offering dozens of outstanding disciplines and programs—and ultimately, endless opportunity.

Some have asked, as the Record editorial did, "What about Rutgers’ academic image and reputation?" Are they not aware that Rutgers programs, research, and faculty already are recognized for excellence across the nation and worldwide?

The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy recently was ranked eighth in the nation among graduate schools in urban planning, based on an independent survey of professionals, educators, and students commissioned by Planetizen, a Los Angeles-based planning and development network.

Graduate programs ranked at the top of their fields include logic, women's history, library studies, criminal justice, and elementary particle and string theory. Another 15 academic departments—including art history, bioengineering, English, mathematics, physics, political science, history, geography, French, theater arts, and statistics—have been ranked in the top 30 among public and private colleges and universities nationwide.

In addition, in recent months Rutgers has received a series of prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct research that is vital to New Jersey and the nation.

Despite the negativity that some have aimed at our successful football program, we at Rutgers take great pride in the achievements of our players, coaches, and staff. We are equally proud of the academic accomplishments of our faculty and students. We embrace the belief that Rutgers can remain an outstanding academic institution and still field great athletic teams.

Based on the conversations that I have on a daily basis, so do most people across the state of New Jersey.