Public 4-Year Schools

Rutgers: Celebrates 250 Years of History, New Beginnings for State University

Revolutionary, a monument presented as a gift by Johnson and Johnson in celebration of the university's 250th anniversary

Revolutionary, a monument presented as a gift by Johnson and Johnson in celebration of the university’s 250th anniversary

Rutgers University is celebrating its 250th birthday.  The university-wide celebration honors a proud legacy of teaching, research and service that started when our nation was in its infancy and continues to evolve and contribute to scholarship that is changing lives across the globe.

The university’s 250th milestone is one that few higher education institutions have achieved. Founded a decade before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Rutgers has transformed from a small, predominantly white all-male college located in New Brunswick into one of the nation’s most diverse and rigorous public research universities with locations across the state and a presence in the Big Ten athletic conference.

“There is a great sense of pride that comes with recognizing that your institution is one of the oldest in the country and one of only a handful that predate our nation,” says Rutgers President Robert Barchi. “And I feel even greater satisfaction in looking forward and seeing how Rutgers is empowering generations of students to become leaders in fields that our founders could never have even imagined.”

A yearlong celebration has been marked by commemorative events for everyone, including special classes and publications, symposia, exhibitions and concerts at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Rutgers University-Newark, Rutgers University-Camden and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. The occasion of the 250th saw new buildings open on every campus, a national celebration in Washington, D.C., and most notably the first visit by a sitting United States president at a Rutgers commencement.

For more stories about Rutgers, scroll down:

New Active Learning Classrooms Transform Teaching at Rutgers
RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Partner to Create World-Class Sports Medicine Program
Upcoming Events at Rutgers University-Camden
Scarlet Spotlight: National Resource for Insurance Matters Debuts at Law School
National Honors for Rutgers-Camden Business School Duo for Work on Diversity
Quick Hits: Faculty/Staff News

In fact, President Barack Obama’s address to 2016 graduates focused on the very history of debate and discourse that has set Rutgers apart for 250 years.

“America converges here,” Obama told a global audience of students, faculty, families and friends. “And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America – the course by which we became bigger, stronger and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation.”

President Obama follows a long line of public figures who have come to campus for a variety of activities over the past 250 years, says Paul G.E. Clemens, professor of history and author of Rutgers Since 1945: A History of the State University of New Jersey. “It’s symbolically important to have someone of prominence come to speak,” he says.

Today, in keeping with that tradition, nearly 80 distinguished alumni from across the globe – from scholars and scientists to activists and performers – will return to Rutgers to discuss their work with students and how their education contributed to their success.

The university’s alumni have made notable contributions to history dating back to the Revolutionary War. A select few – including scholar-athlete Paul Robeson; Selman Waksman, whose research led to the discovery of at least 20 antibiotics and earned him the Nobel Prize; and Mary Bunting, who paved inroads to coeducation at top universities – were profiled in the commemorative publication Rutgers Revolutionaries. Featuring the Rutgers people and innovations that have changed lives around the world, the compilation spans from Simeon De Witt, one of Rutgers’ first graduates who served as surveyor general for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, to 2016 graduate Katherine Lau, a biomedical engineering student who built a 3-D printed prosthetic hand for a preschooler.

The 250th celebration also has brought to life an eclectic mix of historical narrative and archival artifacts recorded in the commemorative book Rutgers: A 250th Anniversary Portrait and the exhibition “Rutgers through the Centuries: 250 Years of Treasures from the Archives.”

At the center of the university’s history is its relationship with the state, which began in 1864 when Rutgers was designated as a land-grant college for New Jersey and continues to this day as nearly half of Rutgers’ 486,000 living alumni and most of our students call New Jersey home.

In honor of that relationship, civic and religious buildings in all of the university’s host communities will ring their bells at 2:50 p.m. today for 250 seconds in unison with the ringing of the Old Queens bell at Rutgers. The historic bell, located atop one of the university’s oldest buildings, was donated to the institution by benefactor and namesake Henry Rutgers when the school was a small, struggling, private college, and long before Rutgers was officially designated the State University of New Jersey in 1946.

“An ongoing story central to Rutgers’ history is the institution’s effort to solidify, protect and improve our relationship to the state of New Jersey,” Clemens says.

But it’s the university’s students who continue to drive Rutgers’ story. What started as a small group of men facing the challenges of a Revolutionary War in 1766 has grown into a student body of 69,000 from all 50 states and 115 countries studying in a broad range of fields including health care, law, business, engineering, sciences, the arts and the humanities.

Those students will join in the commemoration of a milestone only seven other institutions of higher learning have achieved nationally. Today they will celebrate with festivals and fireworks in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick at 6 p.m. The fireworks will be live streamed and can be seen by Rutgers alumni and friends anywhere in the world.

Anchored in the university’s 250 years of history, today’s students remain poised to continue the university’s tradition of excellence in the years to come.

“An anniversary presents an occasion to tell your story,” says Thomas Frusciano, university archivist. “The celebration of Rutgers’ 250th birthday alerted people to the fact that we are this old and have such a rich history. All the events surrounding our year of celebration have presented wonderful opportunities to bring this history to current students. These people from the near and distant past walked through the same doors and then went on to make their mark in the world. Today’s students will continue their legacy.”


Michael Weingart says the new space makes it easier for students to work together to solve problems during the probability class he teaches. Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

New Active Learning Classrooms Transform Teaching at Rutgers

In a traditional general chemistry recitation the professor stands in front of the room solving problems on the white board while students watch and take notes.

But new active learning classrooms designed to allow students to work together in groups and equipped with the latest technology are turning that teaching model on its head.

“We have students work together to solve the problems themselves,’’ said Darrin York, a professor who is working to adapt the chemistry course to a different way of teaching made possible by the new spaces at Rutgers.

“In a traditional classroom students can watch you solve a problem on the board, and even if you think you have the most elegant way of explaining something and the students can follow what you are doing, if they don’t do it themselves, they can get to the same problem and not know how to start,’’ York said.

Rutgers–New Brunswick introduced three new active learning classrooms this fall – two in the new academic building on the College Avenue Campus and one in Tillett Hall on the Livingston Campus – as part of a five-year technology master plan to upgrade instructional spaces, said Paul Hammond, assistant vice chancellor for technology and instruction.

The active learning classrooms are state-of-the-art versions of similar spaces that were pioneered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and replicated at major universities across the country. They are designed based on research that shows students learn better by solving problems in collaboration with their peers, facilitated by their professors, Hammond said.

Students say the new classrooms are more interactive and engaging than conventional classrooms and encourage them to become more involved, while learning from their classmates.

“It is helpful to work with other people to get to an answer because I might get one part, and someone else gets the other part, but together we understand the whole thing,’’ said Michaela Mason, a sophomore who is taking intermediate microeconomics in the new classroom.

The active learning classrooms can accommodate up to 90 students sitting around 10 different tables. Each table is located next to a flat-screen television mounted on the wall with the capability for students to plug in their laptops while they work together. Instead of standing at a podium in front, the professor is in the center of the room at a table with four overhead flat screens that can project the students’ work for everyone to see.

“In traditional classrooms you don’t have places where students can sit around and look each other in the eye,’’ York said. “You don’t have white board space where every group can have its own private conversation while analyzing computer simulations on a large TV that everyone can see. That is something we can do in active learning classrooms.’’

York is working with the new Active Learning Community – a group formed by Rutgers Digital Classroom Services and Scheduling & Space Management to help faculty adapt their teaching to the new space – to redesign general chemistry. He is also working on a research study to examine whether active learning classrooms improve students’ problem- solving skills.

Francis Barchi, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work who teaches “Global Health Perspectives” in the new classrooms, said the greatest asset of the space is that students are not sitting in rows but are face to face.

When Barchi offered the class in a traditional classroom, if she wanted students to work in groups she would resort to sending some of them to sit on the floor in the hallway to collaborate on an assignment.

Now Barchi can have students work together at the tables to research the rates of tuberculosis in a country or explore another topic. They can project their work on the flat-screen televisions and quickly share the findings with their classmates.

“It changes the dynamic in the room because kids are discovering information for themselves with their peers through a variety of uses of technology,’’ Barchi said. “It is the difference between doing something and having somebody hand it to you.’’

“It is like someone explaining to you how to parallel park,’’ she said. “It is nothing compared to what it means when you try to do it yourself.’’


A rendering of the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University. Plans were unveiled at a groundbreaking ceremony signaling a partnership between between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health to create a comprehensive sports medicine program and for construction of the athletics facility. Photo: Ben Solomon/Rutgers University

RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Partner to Create World-Class Sports Medicine Program

The groundbreaking on the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University signals a new partnership between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health to create a comprehensive sports medicine program to serve Rutgers athletes, students and communities throughout New Jersey. Through this partnership, RWJBarnabas Health will become the exclusive health care provider for Rutgers Athletics, while creating a best-in-class sports medicine program that can be expanded across the state.

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi and RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Barry H. Ostrowsky joined university, RWJBarnabas Health, state and community officials to break ground on a 295,000-square-foot, four-story sports facility and parking deck located adjacent to the Rutgers Athletics Center in Piscataway. The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center also will be the headquarters for a world-class sports medicine program. RWJBarnabas Health will develop and manage the program, which will provide Rutgers’ 625 NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletes with an extensive array of health care services and pursue advances in sports medicine.

“This partnership between New Jersey’s State University, with its academic health center, and the state’s most comprehensive integrated health system, will be transformational on many levels, giving our students and athletes a world-class sports medicine program and helping us construct a cutting-edge athletic training facility,” President Barchi said.

RWJBarnabas Health is investing a total of $18 million to create a sports medicine program and for construction of the facility, which will be completed by July 2019. The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center will be built on the site of the existing parking lot southwest of the RAC and northwest of the Rutgers Business School. TheRWJBarnabas Health sports medicine program will be comprised of athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, sports psychologists, psychiatrists and other behavioral health specialists, sports performance specialists and nutritional experts.

The RWJBarnabas Health sports medicine center will be accessible to the entire Rutgers community and the public, in addition to Rutgers athletes.

“It is our mission to bring the best of academic medicine, research, education and providers together to create healthier communities in New Jersey. This partnership represents the next natural step in bringing together The State University of New Jersey and the state’s finest health care system,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and CEO, RWJBarnabas Health. “This will allow both of our organizations to leverage resources to serve the Rutgers students, faculty and surrounding communities. With the new RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center serving as the cornerstone for a nationally recognized collegiate athletics and sports medicine program, we look forward to investing in academic medical education, sports performance and overall community wellness.”

In addition to the sports medicine center, the building will provide a state-of-the-art practice facility for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. The investment also will fund upgraded sports medicine equipment and facilities at the Hale Center.

“Our partnership with RWJBarnabas Health is a testament to the leadership of Dr. Barchi and Barry H. Ostrowsky,” said Rutgers Director of Athletics Patrick Hobbs. “They share a vision to provide our students, and athletes across the state, with the very best in sports medicine and together we will do that. Everyone is coming together to provide our students and coaches with the resources they need to compete at a championship level. This is a day to celebrate the commitment of our Governor, our partners in the Legislature, and the many Rutgers alumni and friends who are responding to our call to be all in.”

The sports medicine program also will aim to advance academic opportunities in sports-medicine fields. Affiliated physicians and practitioners will be able to hone sports medicine skills in a Big Ten practice setting, whether in the renovated Hale Center, RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center or on the sidelines at athletics practices and games.

This collaboration follows another strategic partnership announced recently in which RWJBarnabas Health will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years to advancemedical research at Rutgers University’s medical schools to attract highly regarded researchers and increase National Institutes of Health funding.

“This is the next step in a partnership that will help us recruit nationally recognized researchers, specialists and clinical staff to provide the highest quality clinical care, leading-edge research, and top-tier health education and create a nationally recognized academic health center in New Jersey,” said Brian L. Strom, Executive Vice President of Health Affairs and Chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

“R Big Ten Build,” a targeted campaign to raise $100 million for new or upgraded facilities, was launched on Jan. 20. Phase I, created in collaboration with the University Physical Master Plan, includes three projects: The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, a Lacrosse and Soccer Training Complex and a Football Training Complex/Expansion of the Hale Center.

“R Big Ten Build” surpassed the $50 million milestone in just 15 weeks. The initiative has received 10 donations of more than $1 million, including the three largest gifts in Rutgers Athletics history, which combine to exceed $11 million. As of mid-October, 1,571 donors had contributed $31.5 million, totaling $56.5 million toward the campaign. In addition, tax credits of $25 million, which await final approval by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, will help fund the construction.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017.

Upcoming Event at Rutgers University-Camden

Chancellor’s New Faculty Research Symposium
Wednesday, Dec. 7
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Campus Center, main level, Multi-Purpose Room
Learn more about some of the cutting-edge research underway at Rutgers University–Camden during presentations by Dr. SARADA BALAGOPALAN (associate professor, FASC-childhood studies), Dr. BRANDI BLESSETT (assistant professor, FASC-public policy), Dr. NANCY PONTES (assistant professor, SNC), Dr. AMY SAVAGE (assistant professor, FASC-biology), and Dr. SHANKAR SUNDARESAN (clinical associate professor, SBC-management). Refreshments provided.

Scarlet Spotlight: National Resource for Insurance Matters Debuts at Law School

A comprehensive, national project being launched from Rutgers Law School’s Camden location, and in cooperation with United Policyholders, analyzes and recommends state laws to ensure that policyholders are receiving, and insurance companies are providing, essential protections. The project details key issues for insurance consumers in four categories: buying insurance, coverage, the claims process, and disaster victims.

According to Prof. JAY FEINMAN (distinguished professor, RLAW and co-director, Center for Risk and Responsibility), there is a significant knowledge gap in how coverage differs nationwide. He says identifying and elaborating on what are essential protections can strengthen what is now a complicated and flawed process.

“Every state regulates insurance and insurance companies, but states differ dramatically in how much and what kind of regulation they provide for the benefit of policyholders,” says Feinman. “The Essential Protections for Policyholders Project provides a roadmap that every state can follow in improving homeowners insurance. Giving consumers full, understandable information about insurance policies and insurance companies, providing minimum guarantees of protection, and requiring companies to act reasonably in paying claims leads to better products and fairer prices.”

Quick Hits: Faculty/Staff News

The following faculty have received Rutgers Research Council grants for 2016-17:

Dr. KATE CAIRNS (assistant professor, FASC-childhood studies)
Dr. CATI COE (professor, FASC-sociology)
Dr. SEAN DUFFY (associate professor, FASC-psychology)
Dr. DAVID DWERTMANN (assistant professor, SBC-management)
Dr. AKON EKPO (assistant professor, SBC-marketing)
Dr. CARLA GIAUDRONE (associate professor, FASC-Spanish)
Dr. OSCAR HOLMES IV (assistant professor, SBC-management)
Dr. ANA LAGUNA (associate professor, FASC-Spanish)
Dr. ADAM OKULICZ-KOZARYN (assistant professor, FASC-public policy)
Dr. CYRIL READE (associate professor, FASC-art and director, Center for the Arts)
Dr. DEEKSHA SINGH (assistant professor, SBC-management)
Dr. YULIYA STRIZHAKOVA (associate professor, SBC-marketing)
Dr. HAO ZHU (associate professor, FASC-chemistry)

Dr. KATE CAIRNS (assistant professor, FASC-childhood studies) received Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award from the Consumers and Consumption Section of the American Sociological Association for her recent coauthored book, Food and Femininity (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Prof. MICHAEL CARRIER (distinguished professor, RLAW), on behalf of 61 professors, submitted a letter to, and met with, the U.S. Deputy Solicitor General in a drug patent settlement case.

Dr. MICHAEL CLARK (clinical assistant professor, SNC) recently participated in the Fourth World Parkinson’s Congress, where he presented a poster describing an innovative, web-based educational program for staff nurses in acute care hospital settings designed to help them improve care of patients with Parkinson’s disease. The poster represents a collaborative effort between Clark and Dr. MARGARET AVALLONE (assistant professor, SNC).

Prof. NANCY CRESSE (clinical instructor, SNC) has been named a “Diva” award recipient by the New Jersey State Nurses Association and will receive the award at the 2016 Diva and Don event on Dec. 7. The NJSNA will recognize 10 professional registered nurses who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and been a positive influence on others. Cresse’s research focuses on geriatric frailty and care of older adults.

Dr. MENG LI (assistant professor, SBC-management) has had his research paper, “Technical Note: Demand Uncertainty Reduction in Decentralized Supply Chains,” accepted for publication in the journal Production and Operations Management.

Dr. WENHUA LU (assistant professor, FASC-childhood studies) is the author of a scholarly article, “Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders and Health Care Disparities: Results from the National Survey of Children’s Health, 2011-2012,” in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Prof. RUTH ANNE ROBBINS (distinguished clinical professor, RLAW) was named among the “Top Women in the Law” by New Jersey Law Journal in the newspaper’s Nov. 14 edition.

Prof. ADAM SCALES (professor, RLAW) has been named an Academic Fellow with the Pound Civil Justice Institute, a national legal think tank that seeks to ensure access to justice for all citizens. >>Learn more

Dr. SEAN STEIN SMITH (assistant professor, SBC-accounting) is the recipient of a Bright Idea Award for his research on emerging opportunities for accounting practitioners to make better and more strategically oriented business decisions. >>Learn more

Dr. CHESTER SPELL (professor, SBC-management) is the new associate editor of the journal Personnel Review.