Chancellor Diner's 2008 Address to the Campus

October 2, 2008

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Given the financial crisis gripping our country and the world, I had doubts that anyone would show up today. With all that is happening on Wall Street and in Washington, a report about what is going on at Rutgers-Newark might seem rather dull. So I am delighted to see you all here.

In preparing for this year’s address, I went back to look at what I said last year. In 2007, I talked about the four themes that have long characterized this campus -- opportunity, diversity, urban engagement, and research. As I thought about what I wanted to say this year, I focused immediately on the same four themes. So I began to wonder if my inability to come up with new themes reflects stagnation or my lack of imagination. I prefer to think of it as consistency. In any event, I will not be reinventing Rutgers-Newark today.

Financially Trying Times

Let me begin with a word about the looming financial crisis and what it might mean to Rutgers University and Rutgers-Newark. There is no question that state tax revenues are declining. This could mean a mid-year rescission in which the state takes back some of the money it has appropriated to us. Thus far, the governor has not cut appropriations to New Jersey’s state universities. I want to be very clear about that. But state agencies have been given 5% cuts. So it is a very anxious time for us. Budget cuts are always terrible, but the worst kinds are the ones that come in the middle of the year when you have already allocated funds. We don’t know what’s going to happen but we have to acknowledge that something might.

The financial crisis will impact us in other ways. The current economy will likely create problems for many of our graduates seeking employment. It could be a very tough year for them. We don’t know yet whether this crisis will affect the availability of private funds some of our students borrow to pay tuition and other costs. Also, the university’s endowment will likely decrease. Fortunately or unfortunately, Rutgers is not as endowment-dependent as other major universities. We wish we were, but sadly we are not now. So that impact may be more modest for Rutgers than other institutions.

Historically, in the midst of economic hard times, enrollments in state universities have gone up. That may be counterintuitive, but often when people can’t find work they come back to school, so our enrollments may grow as a result of the economic recession.

New Leadership

Now let me turn to Rutgers-Newark. First I want to note some leadership changes. I’m very pleased that Lucille Joel is now serving as acting dean of the College of Nursing. Lucille has been with the College of Nursing for many years and has hit the ground running. I’m very grateful to Lucille for assuming this leadership role.

We have a new assistant chancellor and director of the Dana Library, Mark Winston. Mark comes to us from the University of North Carolina where he was a professor of library science. He is an accomplished scholar as well as an experienced library administrator. He is the nation’s leading expert on how racial and ethnic diversity affects libraries, which is especially valuable for our campus. In addition to serving as director of the Dana Library, Mark will undertake special academic projects and initiatives that go beyond the library.

Simon Reich has joined us as Director of the Division of Global Affairs. He is a distinguished scholar and served previously as director of the Ford Center on Human Security at the University of Pittsburgh.

Finally, Professor Sherri-Ann Butterfield of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is serving this year as the first Faculty Fellow in the Office of the Chancellor. In this capacity, she will participate fully in the activities of the chancellor’s office and undertake a number of special projects for me.

Centennial Celebration for Rutgers in Newark

This year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Rutgers-Newark, which dates to the opening of New Jersey Law School in 1908. In June, we had a splendid anniversary gala in which we raised substantial funds for student scholarships. We will continue the celebration on October 7, when we will inaugurate our first annual Founders Day. At 1 PM on the Norman Samuels Plaza, we will pay tribute to the large number of Rutgers-Newark faculty and staff who hold degrees from this campus. Everyone is invited to attend.

Speaking of celebration, nobody celebrates like lawyers, and no dean celebrates like Dean Deutsch. The law school, the first of the institutions to become Rutgers-Newark, is also celebrating its 100th birthday. It is hosting and has hosted a series of events, some of them very erudite. On one day, leading faculty members talked about life at the law school 40 years ago; on another there was a party -- music and food -- on every floor and everywhere in the law school.

Record High Enrollment

As you many of you know, we have sought for many years on this campus to build enrollment. When I came here 10 years ago, enrollment on this campus had been dropping every year by enough to be worrisome. At that time, we had 9,000 students. Ten years later, I am happy to announce that we have 11,000 students. So in 10 years, we have grown by 2,000 students. That truly is a tremendous accomplishment. We were pleased with last year’s number of 10,550 and didn’t expect to hit 11,000 this year, but we have. The enrollment increase is attributable to many things. One is that our admissions director, Jason Hand, has done a spectacular job. Some of it is demographic -- the number of high school graduates is increasing. And perhaps most profoundly, I think we have finally put to rest the fear of Newark among high school students and their parents.

Now every accomplishment brings with it its own set of challenges. Increased enrollment has put tremendous pressure on student services -- on the registrar, financial aid, business services, advising officers, computing, and so on. In the university’s budgeting system, a portion of the additional tuition generated by the growth in enrollment is returned to the Newark campus. We will use the administrative portion of these funds to enhance services that most immediately affect students. We will hire extra staff in those areas because we can’t have more students without having the services necessary to maintain growth.

Educational Opportunity

Let me now turn to our four major themes, starting with opportunity. As you have heard me say many times, this is a campus where students of modest means get a first-rate education and have an opportunity to study with the professors who have written the books rather than learning from the ones who have merely read them. I am very proud of that tradition. Over the last several years, I’ve been deeply concerned that we were not enrolling enough students from Newark, Irvington, East Orange, and other nearby low-income jurisdictions. In 2007, we had 184 new undergraduate students from those jurisdictions, double what we had in 2005. This year, we have 213 new students from those jurisdictions, a substantial increase of 29. Jason Hand’s office is taking a holistic view of students coming from low-income backgrounds to ensure we are admitting all students we think can succeed at Rutgers-Newark irrespective of SAT scores.

Data from our recent freshman survey reveals that 25% of our freshmen comes from families that earn $40,000 or less annually. That is one in four. The national average at state universities is 17%. I don’t have the figures for the national average at selective research-oriented universities, but I am quite sure it is lower than 17%.

On March 26, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program. While every institution of higher education in New Jersey has an EOF program, I think I can say fairly that no institution has invested more in EOF than Rutgers-Newark. This was the case long before my arrival here 10 years ago, because the EOF Program has been central to the identity of this campus. The embrace and expansion of the existing EOF Program grew out of the Conklin Hall takeover of 1969. Therefore it was quite appropriate that the celebration of the EOF 40th anniversary occurred right here, right in this room, on this campus. Former Governor Thomas Kane was the keynote speaker, and five graduates of the EOF Program shared their own stories of extraordinary success despite the hardships they faced. What a moving moment!

I also would like to note the dynamic outreach programs we have been undertaking to help students in grades K-12 from Newark and the surrounding communities prepare for college. One of the newest is a program called “Early College High School.” This is a movement gaining attention across the country in which young people from inner city schools are prepared for and then take college-level courses while in high school to show them that they are capable of performing well in college. It may sound counterintuitive and require a lot of support to help the students achieve, but it boosts their self-confidence because they are held to the same standards as students in their first year of college. We are collaborating with Essex County College on this initiative, which I believe has great potential.

The Future Scholars program that President McCormick launched across all three of Rutgers’ campuses admits annually approximately 45 to 50 Newark eighth graders and gives them an intense summer program, engages them with the campus during the academic year and guaranties them free tuition should they be admitted and choose to enroll at Rutgers at the end of those five years of preparatory work. Debra Walker-McCall, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who runs this pre-college program, has done a magnificent job along with her staff in implementing it.

I should also note that a relatively new program organized by Diane Hill in our Office of Community Engagement involves many of our undergraduate students in tutoring within the Newark public schools. That program has been around for about two years and is becoming more and more active. Diane Hill’s office also has overseen for the city of Newark an “RU Ready for Work” program. The program introduces young people in the Newark schools to various career options and lets them shadow people in different types of jobs to encourage the students to think about their future. This is just a sampling of the pre-college programs and outreach activities we undertake. We can take great pride in all of this.


As everybody in this room knows, for the 12th year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked our campus as the most diverse national university in the country, and we are very proud of that. It’s worth mentioning that we are diverse in ways that U.S. News & World Report doesn’t even measure. U.S. News & World Report does an aggregate measure of five large groups: White; Black; Hispanic; Asian; and Pacific Islander/American Indian, and merely calculates the ratios among these large aggregates. Diversity, however, goes far beyond these very crude groupings. One of the things we ask in our annual freshman survey is religion. Eleven percent of the freshmen last year told us that they were Hindu, 9% said their religion was Islamic, and 3.3% said Eastern Orthodox. For state universities across the country, the national average for each of these religions is 1% or less.

I am teaching a course this fall in the honors college on the city of Newark. Two weeks ago I invited Larry Goldman, president and chief executive officer of NJPAC, as a guest speaker. He saw me a day or two after his presentation and said, “Steve, I know that for over a decade you have had the most diverse campus in America, but I never understood it fully until I sat in that room and looked at and talked with the students. It really is extraordinary.”

U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on undergraduate enrollment, but this year I took a closer look at our graduate school enrollments as well. Only about half of all students in the graduate school are white, 12% are black, 6% are Hispanic, and 19% are Asian. Women account for 58% of all students in the graduate school.

A couple of programs are particularly notable for their diversity. The American studies, global affairs, urban systems and public administration doctoral programs have exceptional records. A couple of years ago, Dean Marc Holzer won the university’s diversity award for the extraordinary number of minorities in the doctoral program in public administration.

Our new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, headed by Jayne Anne Phillips, is also building on this tradition. Nearly half of all the enrolled students in that program are people of color. A few years ago, the director of the National Association of Writing Programs met with me to discuss our readiness to offer the new MFA program. He explained that there are almost no minority students in MFA writing programs in the United States, and said that Rutgers-Newark’s MFA program could be the first in the country with a significant minority representation, particularly since our director was committed to diversity and our campus is ideally situated in Newark. He predicted schools around the country that have MFA programs and are looking to hire faculty would eagerly hire our MFA graduates. Now this is happening.

To take fullest advantage of the diversity that exists on this campus, I asked Sherri-Ann Butterfield and Mark Winston to lead a project across the campus to help faculty come together and think through how we take advantage of the diversity we find in the classroom as a pedagogic tool. Students in our classrooms have an unmatched opportunity to learn from each other. Each year, graduating seniors fill out an exit survey. One question asks them whether they would recommend Rutgers-Newark to someone else and then asks them to explain their answer. About five years ago, I started reading the answers to this open-ended question. Over and over, students cited our diversity as the main reason for recommending Rutgers-Newark to other students. They said that our unique cultural mix allowed them to learn so much from their fellow classmates. Recognizing that these learning opportunities exist, we as a faculty should sit together, share experiences, and think systemically about this extraordinary resource that does not exist at most colleges and universities.

I am also happy to report that we have again done pretty well this year again in diversifying our faculty. Nearly half of our new faculty members are people of color: three are African- American; four are Hispanic; seven are Asian-American; 17 are white. Our new faculty consists of 19 men and 12 women. In the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, an absolute majority of new faculty members are non-white, and a majority are women. So Dean Yeagle and his colleagues can take justifiable pride in expanding the faculty diversity.

As you know, there has been a program administered out of New Brunswick that provides financial support to help units attract faculty who add to the diversity of that unit. The newest stage in this program invited the submission of cluster proposals. Different departments presented a cluster of three to five people in a priority academic area whom we might attract as a group. Several proposals were submitted, but the committee selected only one. It came out of Rutgers Business School and proposes the creation of a cluster of faculty from Rutgers Business School, the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and the School of Law, in urban entrepreneurship. Congratulations especially to Professor dt ogilvie and Dean Cooper for their leadership in diversifying the faculty of the business school, which traditionally struggled to appoint faculty from underrepresented minorities.

Given the demographics of our campus and the region in which we are located, I believe we have an excellent opportunity to build scholarly distinction in the study of immigration. Nearly 38% of our undergraduate students come from homes where English is not the first language. The vast majority of our students are no more than one generation removed from an immigrant experience, and we are smack in the middle of the biggest, most diverse center of immigration in the country. There is a great deal of faculty scholarship and interest in the field of immigration. Professor Sherri-Ann Butterfield is preparing a systematic analysis of scholarship relevant to the study of immigration being done by members of our faculty in all of our schools and colleges. I have asked her to consider if there is a way in which we can connect all of this scholarly work so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Urban Engagement

As I turn to urban engagement with the city of Newark and its surrounding communities. let me begin with another anniversary. This is the 10th anniversary of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, headed by Professor Clement Price. This institute has set the standard for engagement with surrounding communities. Clem’s institute has brought knowledge of the city of Newark, of ethnicity, of race, of religion, of the social construction of difference to broad audiences across Newark. If you have never attended a Marion Thompson Wright Lecture, I strongly urge you to do so. Not only are these lectures wonderful for their scholarly content, but when you look at the audience, you see scholars, graduate students, working-class people with modest education, high school students, and middle school students. They all sit in the same audience, listen to the same lecture, and are fully engaged. It’s an extraordinary event.

Professor Price also has been responsible for getting the city of Newark to at long last come to terms with the riots of 1967. Through a series of programs that Clem orchestrated, people came together, began to reflect on what really happened and the various “memories” of that event that remain so powerful in this city. Recognizing that you can’t get beyond the riots until you deal with the memories, Clem helped the entire city come together and set a platform for progress in the future. It is a marvelous example of what engaged research in an urban university is all about.

I also should note that this is the 30th anniversary of the Paul Robeson Galleries. A model education-oriented gallery, nearly every exhibit there has a tie to community groups. It really has become a very dynamic institution in our city.

The business school has started a new center on urban entrepreneurship. It already has attracted one superb new faculty member from a top university. We lured him away because of the research and teaching opportunities Newark offers in urban entrepreneurship. Rutgers-Newark is going to be hiring several other people in this field because of the cluster appointments I mentioned earlier. A donor has established an equity fund of $ 1 mioon to help develop small minority businesses in Newark. Students in the entrepreneurship program are working with clients who are seeking support from the equity fund. The center, led by Professor dt ogilvie with the assistance of our new faculty member Jeff Robinson, has chosen Halsey Street as its target. They hope to transform Halsey Street into a center of vibrant businesses, restaurants, and coffee shops. They are already working with the first two businesses. This is a win, win, win. It’s a win for the business school, for the entrepreneurs, and for Rutgers-Newark and all of University Heights. If we can transform the neighborhood adjacent to the campus and make it the lively place we want it to be, the transformation will bring even more students to Rutgers-Newark and heighten the desirability of the campus.

We also have another very exciting initiative. The new superintendent of the Newark public schools, Dr. Clifford Janey, approached me about creating a consortium on Newark public school research here at Rutgers-Newark. He wanted it led by the university and not the school system. This project is moving very quickly. The head of the Newark charter school fund, which was established fairly recently, is very eager to have the same research done for charter schools. Alan Sadovnik and Paul Tractenberg, who are the co-directors of the Institute on Education Law and Policy, are providing the primary leadership, working with Sherri-Ann Butterfield from my office. I think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity. Incidentally, it is modeled after an initiative of the University of Chicago that was started 15 years ago and continues to do this kind of research for the Chicago public schools.

The School of Public Affairs and Administration has been ubiquitous in offering its services to different parts of the city government. The director of the Newark Housing Authority has requested a quality control program to maintain services in public housing, and Dean Holzer and his colleagues have provided a lot of information and materials addressing the issue and will continue working with the Housing Authority. A year ago, SPAA established the executive Masters in Public Administration program at City Hall, meeting in the City Council conference room. City government leaders are very pleased with the program. It is helping to build the administrative capacity of the city of Newark to a level that had not existed previously.

Another area of extraordinary opportunity in community-oriented research is the subject of prison and reentry. For individuals who have been incarcerated for extended periods of time, what services should be made available to them and how do we decrease the rate of recidivism? We have an unusual cluster of faculty at Rutgers-Newark who study prisoner reentry, including Damian Martinez, Mercer Sullivan, Johnna Christian and Bonita Veysey from the School of Criminal Justice, Keesha Middlemass from political science, Paul Boxer from psychology, and Stephanie Bush-Baskette, director of the Cornwall Center. These scholars of prisoner reentry can pool their intellectual resources to address some really important issues facing our city.

The Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies has been conducting a behavior risk factor surveillance survey for the city of Newark’s health department. Its researchers perform 200 interviews per month with Newark residents asking them questions about their health status and behavior. All of the data is then used to inform public health policy. This is just another example of how our scholars engage the community.

We also engage with the community as a developer and builder of facilities. One of the most important things we are doing right now is completing construction for the new home of Rutgers Business School at 1 Washington Park. When we started working on this project years ago, we managed to get $18 million in support from the state of New Jersey, and $ 6 million of federal support from New Market Tax Credit program, designed to revitalize urban areas. When we got that money, we made the argument that this was not just good for our business school or Rutgers-Newark, but that it would help to revitalize the area adjacent to the Broad Street train station, the least leveraged asset in all of downtown Newark.

Well, the Booker administration has announced a new Broad Street train station plan with much fanfare. Drawing a circle around the Broad Street train station, they have stated that this area is ripe for redevelopment. I like to think that our prediction was correct and that we have already helped to spur the redevelopment of the surrounding area.

We also are continuing to work with a private developer on renovating the old law school building at 15 Washington Street. Hopefully that will go forward as graduate student apartments, retail on the ground level, and office space for businesses that want to avail themselves of the opportunity to interact with faculty and students of the business school.

You may have noticed that the storefronts of Parking Deck II on Halsey and Linden Streets, which had been boarded up for many years, now have been renovated. We are looking at a number of retail opportunities for the renovated spaces. We also are talking with the city of Newark about creating a mega bookstore for all the University Heights universities. Ideally, the bookstore would be located on Broad Street. We are hoping that project goes forward.

When we built University Square, our newest residence hall, which is now in its third year, we built retail on the ground level, recognizing that the neighborhood needed stores. The first of the entities to move in was Subway. It was so successful it went 24/7. The last of the stores that has been vacant is about to become a Sbarro. So food seems to be the thing, at least around college students.

Finally, we are beginning the planning for the next undergraduate residence hall. It was only three years ago we opened University Square. We now are well over capacity in campus housing. This is a case where if you build it, people really will come. We are moving in the direction of becoming a significantly residential campus. I am hoping that will really happen on my watch.

Faculty Achievement and Research

Much of the excellent research at Rutgers-Newark involves areas we have already discussed, including diversity, immigration, public education, urban entrepreneurship, historical memory, prisoner reentry and much more. But I do want to give you just a sampling of some of the research accomplishments of our faculty. I will be very selective, and there are 10 times as many people I could note in addition to the ones I am going to talk about. So I hope no one takes offense.

  • Professor Bob Akins of the College of Nursing was one of only 15 junior faculty nationwide who received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar Award. This award is given to untenured nursing faculty.
  • Professor Chan Choi of the Rutgers Business School won a Fulbright Award for research in Korea.
  • The Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal named Professor Nancy DiTomaso, chair of the Department of Management and Global Business, outstanding reviewer for 2007.
  • Professor Jon Dubin, director of Clinical Programs at the law school, received the Stanley Van Ness Leadership Award in Public Interest from the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center.
  • Dean Stuart Deutsch will be honored at the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center’s annual gala on October 15 for his extraordinary contribution to public interest law.
  • Associate Professor Rigoberto Gonzalez of our MFA program received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for his memoir Butterfly Boy and the Poetry Center Book Award for a collection of his poems.
  • Professor Jonathan Hyman of the School of Law received the 2007 James Boskey award from the New Jersey Bar Association as practitioner of the year in dispute resolution.
  • Professor Lucille Joel, acting dean of the College of Nursing, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Psychiatric Advanced Practice Nurses.
  • The National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society named Associate Professor Elpidio Laguna-Diaz of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages to the Order of the Discoverers.
  • Professor Don McCabe of the Department of Management and Global Business received the 2007 Best Paper Award from the Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal and the Canadian Journal of Higher Education.
  • Professor Evan Stark of the School Public Affairs and Administration received the American Publishers Association Excellence Award for the best book published in social work in 2007.
  • Zachery Stoumbos, former chair of the Department of Management Science and Information Systems, who, sadly, died this past year, was elected a lifetime fellow of the American Statistical Association, one of the youngest fellows in the society’s entire history.
  • Professor Annette Gordon-Reed’s new book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, has received rave reviews in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The New Republic and many more publications. It really is just extraordinary how much attention her book is getting.

I don’t want to start listing all of the high rankings our programs have received, but there is a new one that certainly warrants mention here. This is hot off the press. Our business school’s Executive MBA program has been ranked 19th in the world. Twenty-five schools were ranked, and believe me, we are in very good company to be ranked 19th in the entire world.

Let me also note that one of the unfinished floors of the new Life Sciences Building is now almost ready for occupancy by chemistry faculty. We’ve also begun the design of the other unfinished floor for biology research laboratories. The completion of these chemistry and biology laboratories will make it possible to further strengthen those very important programs.

Campus Improvements

With the business school moving to 1 Washington Park, a lot of space will become available on campus. We are going through a systematic needs analysis and reconfiguring space as appropriate. Some of the vacant space should be suitable for a childcare center. Vice Chancellor Marcia Brown and others have been working very hard on the issue of childcare. We are about to engage a consultant and believe we have the space that will permit a childcare center.

In addition, the campus will be spending $3,000,000 for classroom upgrades. The first phase will begin this fall. Five small classrooms will be converted into seminar rooms. A large lecture hall will be renovated as an additional technology-enhanced (smart) classroom. A faculty facilities committee is working with the administration in planning the best use of these funds for classroom renovations.

Finally, you can’t be chancellor of Rutgers-Newark and not talk about parking. We are in the final stages of acquiring a new parking deck on Washington Street across from the Newark city subway. Unfortunately, there is a lot of construction and environmental work that has to be done, and this deck may not actually be available for student use until 2010. We wish it were sooner, but better late than never. But we will never be able to address all of our transportation needs just through parking. A committee of faculty, students, and administrative staff in Marty Ryan’s office has been working on a series of initiatives to improve mass transit utilization on the campus. These include a bike rental program, an emergency ride home service, a ride share program, and having cars available on campus for short-term rental. New Jersey Transit is giving discounts on monthly passes and free weeks for students. We have been encouraging carpooling and are negotiating with Port Authority for PATH discounts as well.

The Future

I began this report by noting that this is our 100th anniversary, and as we historians like to say, “The past is prologue.” I really do think the past is prologue to the future of Rutgers-Newark. I think the outlook for the campus in the next 10 years is very bright. Newark is becoming a much more dynamic place. The campus enrollment will continue to grow. We will have more residential students whose presence will help to bring more retail and shopping to the neighborhood. Our faculty and graduate and undergraduate programs will continue to grow stronger. So I think the outlook is very bright. To be sure, we face budgetary uncertainty in the near future. But despite that, the future of Rutgers-Newark in the coming years looks exciting. Thank you.