Thanks a Billion: What the successful conclusion of the capital campaign means for Rutgers.
This issue of Rutgers Magazine celebrates, in part, the success of our recently concluded fundraising campaign. I want to add to this celebration a sincere thank-you to the tens of thousands of alumni who contributed to Rutgers over the course of the Our Rutgers, Our Future campaign, enabling us to surpass our billion-dollar goal. That’s a mighty accomplishment, and I am grateful to everyone who helped us, but in some ways it’s just a number. Much more importantly, these gifts are helping us to act on our shared vision for Rutgers’ future.
Neuroscientist April Benasich has been studying the brain waves of infants and how that relates to their development of language, with the hope of discovering how to correct learning problems before babies even begin to speak. The campaign enabled Rutgers to create an endowed chair in developmental cognitive neuroscience, and to appoint Benasich to it, thus ensuring that this critical research can continue. Hers is one of 29 newly endowed chairs made possible by the campaign, including five at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick, the first ever awarded at Camden, and a chair in surgery at New Jersey Medical School.
Hundreds more Rutgers students have scholarship support because of donors’ generosity and foresight. In some cases, those scholarships take a very personal form. Harriett and Robert Druskin, for example, invite the recipients of their scholarship to their home each year, making clear that they are invested in these students’ success. Other donors meet their scholarship recipients at yearly luncheons, where alumni recipients regularly come back to thank them and let them know what a difference they have made.
Because of the campaign, we are prepared to welcome 500 top-achieving students to the new Honors College at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, in a beautiful new facility and with unparalleled opportunities to interact with our gifted faculty. The Honors College is going to be transformative not only for these remarkable students, but also for our recognition by prospective families and businesses across the state as a university that seeks and educates the very best students in New Jersey and across the nation.
Among several campaign-supported building projects, we have a spectacular new space for the performing arts—Robert E. Mortensen Hall, a building truly worthy of the stellar talent among our Mason Gross School of the Arts student body. Within that hall is the elegant Richard H. Shindell Choral Hall, a showcase for our incredible choral students. Major gifts to the campaign made this possible—and signaled that our endeavors in the sciences and medicine are only part of the aspirations we share for Rutgers, which also includes continued excellence in the arts and humanities, expanded opportunities for women, research-driven service to the state and nation, and more.
Backed by campaign gifts and by subsequent giving by generous donors, Rutgers is better able to pursue the goals laid out in A Strategic Plan for the New Rutgers for new professorships and renewed strength in engineering, business, medicine, and other disciplines especially critical in the 21st century. Equally important, these dollars will allow us to pursue key aspects of the four chancellor-led strategic plans—for example, strengthening the student experience at New Brunswick; establishing a signature program in cancer at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; raising Rutgers University–Newark’s standing as a place where cutting-edge scholarship and social impact collide; and enriching Rutgers University–Camden’s leadership in civic engagement, among many other ambitions for each.
In an era of diminishing public investments, the need for private gifts for higher education has never been greater. Because of you, Rutgers faces a brighter future—our future. Thanks a billion!