Statement Regarding College Avenue Campus Design Competition

Richard L. McCormick, President
April 3, 2006

When I announced “A New Vision for the College Avenue Campus” last year, I anticipated a challenging and ultimately very rewarding design competition among teams of the world’s foremost architects, designers, and planners. The proposals submitted on March 22 justify my highest expectations, and I deeply appreciate the breathtaking creativity, insightfulness, and enthusiasm that the architectural teams have brought to this task.

One of the components of this competition—and, ultimately, the realization of the underlying vision—is funding for the project. We embarked on this initiative with the full understanding that the project would be paid for by a mix of private and public funds. While we have already begun to explore private and federal sources, we learned on March 21 that our state funding may be cut significantly in the coming fiscal year.

The reductions proposed for Rutgers and higher education in New Jersey could be serious and could fundamentally affect our ability to implement new initiatives. While we expected to bear our share of the state’s fiscal difficulties, the amount proposed forces us to reevaluate many of our programs, including the College Avenue Campus project.

In this difficult environment, we feel that it would be inappropriate and insensitive to continue the competition this spring and to embark on the next phase of the project while the budget is still being deliberated. We are choosing, instead, to defer the exhibition, public presentations, and jury deliberations to the fall. This revised schedule will allow us to consider the architectural teams’ proposals and make our decision informed by the final state budget, which by law must be enacted by June 30, and to announce the winner during the next academic year.

I understand that this delay is going to be disappointing for the many people who have been involved in the project to date. It defers the project at the very moment when expectations were rising and we were all looking forward to seeing the architects’ concepts for the College Avenue Campus. My hope is that we will be able to recapture this anticipation and enthusiasm in the fall.

I have assured the City of New Brunswick, our partner in this initiative, and the architectural teams that Rutgers intends to complete the competition and move our vision forward. This institution is almost 250 years old and has educated many generations of students. Despite the current situation, we are mindful that we must keep our eyes on the future even as we address the present. We take seriously our obligation to plan for the Rutgers of fifteen and even 100 years from now, knowing that students in the next century may live and take classes in some of the very buildings that emerge from this initiative.