My Happy First Homecoming as Chancellor

Dear Scarlet Knights, 

I was truly blown away by the spirit and passion on display at Saturday's homecoming—my first here on the Banks. I was happy to see so many of you in the sea of scarlet; your warm greetings were evidence of your hospitality and the deep ties that bind our alums to Rutgers. I especially enjoyed speaking at the Alumni Leaders Conference on Friday and got a chance to meet with several enthusiastic alumni. My delight at the final score against Purdue made me realize how quickly Rutgers has become my home.

I hope you will forgive the length of this email, another first—my first to all of you. Great things have been happening on the Banks since some of you last visited. Although the Big Ten is an athletic conference, our entry as a member only a few short years ago also propelled us into the company of an elite group of academic powerhouses, where we belong. Nearly two-thirds of our first-year students graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class and our newest cohort of about 500 Honors College students averaged 1480 on the SAT. Coming from more than 40 states and 50 countries, the incoming class joins a community of students from more than 115 countries and all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

Students join the Rutgers community from New Jersey and all over the world for many reasons, and chief among them is our renowned faculty. For example, Distinguished Professor Wise Young and his team are making breakthroughs in spinal cord injury treatment; another Distinguished Professor, Jay Tischfield, is providing the medical community with new insight into what causes Tourette's Syndrome; and faculty in the School of Engineering are developing smart technology solutions for cancer detection, prediction of asthma attacks, and bandages for healing wounds. Our faculty continue to be inducted into the major academies, including the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and others. Like you once did, our students study with and learn from some of the greatest minds in the world.  

I hope you had an opportunity over the weekend to see some of the physical changes that have taken place on our campus. On College Avenue, the beloved Grease Trucks are gone (alas!), but they have been replaced by “The Yard”, which includes the Sojourner Truth student residence hall as well as several new food options, plus a jumbo Tron TV for game-day watching, concerts, and other events. As it is just one block from my office in Old Queens, I can personally attest that it has quickly become a very popular student gathering place!

Also on College Avenue are the new Honors College and its neighbor on Seminary Place, the stunning Rutgers Academic Building, with state-of-the art classrooms and student Learning Centers. On Busch, you may have noticed that the new RIchard Weeks Hall of Engineering is well underway, and on track to open in 2019. And I look forward to cutting the ribbon on the addition to the Chemistry and Chemical Biology building in a few short months.  Cook and Douglass too are on the move, with the opening of the new Kathleen W. Ludwig Global Village Living Learning Center on Nichol Avenue last year, and the innovative building and programming at the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health in the heart of the Cook campus continuing to garner rave reviews.  And Mason Gross School of the Arts, in partnership with the City of New Brunswick, just broke ground on a new Performing Arts Center at the intersection of George Street and Livingston Avenue.

While the football season will draw to a close in a few short weeks, I do hope you will find your way back to campus often over the course of the coming year, and experience some of the great things that are happening. Come for a Chancellor’s Colloquium, and hear our best faculty talk about their work and its broader impact. Be a part of a Campus Conversation, where we’ll discuss Rutgers’ Place in the Big Ten, Academic Rankings, Student Success, and other issues of interest in an open campus forum. Come for a concert, dance recital, or opera at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Or just come for a burger or a falafel at The Yard, and chat with our amazing students. Please check my web page often to see what’s happening, and contact us if we can help you plan your visit. We’d love to see you.

I'd like to end with one final thought. We have a special compact with our state as New Jersey's land-grant public research university. We will continue to broaden access and opportunity for higher education as we prepare the next generation for success in the diverse global economy. Our faculty are creating the new frontiers of research and pedagogy that positively impact our nation’s prosperity, health and security. It is our obligation to continue to deliver on the land-grant mission and we will. I hope you will engage with me and support us as we contribute to the prosperity and well-being of every New Jerseyan, from Mahwah to Cape May. 

For those who attended this weekend's game: thank you for the warm welcome and the spirit you showed. For those who could not make it, please come back soon and rejoin our community of Scarlet Knights. 

Scarlet Forever, 

 

Deba Dutta
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick