An Anchor Institution

(photo by Arthur Paxton)

Rutgers University – Newark (RU-N) is a remarkably diverse, urban, public research university that is not just in Newark but of Newark—an anchor of our home city.  The RU-N community has long recognized that our location is both a defining influence in our story and a distinctive strength. It attracts and cultivates talent on many levels, ranging from generations of students hungry for the opportunities afforded by a first-rate higher education in a major American urban center, to faculty who vigorously embrace the opportunity to produce high-impact scholarship, and engage the community while preparing these students for professional success and informed citizenship. Our location is also a magnet for professional staff committed to advancing our research, pedagogy, and social impact within an inclusive campus culture focused on excellence.

Our campus recently completed a strategic visioning process that underscored this defining aspect of RU-N’s identity, yielding a strategic plan that emphasizes the need to develop even more fully and purposefully our anchor institution agenda. Our work toward this end has been organized thus far under five broad areas that capture much of the scholarly expertise and civic-oriented interests in anchor institution work:

Our goal is to move away from traditional models of “public service” in which faculty and students do things for “a passive and needy public,” as public historian Scott Peters has put it, and engage instead in “public work that taps and engages and develops the civic agency, talents, and capacities of everyone, inside and outside the academy.” Our strategic activities in these areas already range from cross-disciplinary initiatives rooted in community, to partnerships with diverse “communities of experts,” to co-created spaces in the city and region.  Throughout, we seek to pool the expertise and energies of our faculty, staff, and students with those of partners from across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.