Momentous changes are afoot for Rutgers. This spring, the Board of Governors approved a plan to reorganize the university’s administrative structure and improve the quality of undergraduate education on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus, re-thinking everything from admissions standards to the core curriculum to the honors program to the quality of life for students on and off campus. Our own Barry Qualls, who chaired the committee to draft the plan, has accepted the position of Interim Vice President of Undergraduate Education (the “interim” is at his insistence; for the rest of the Rutgers community, it is impossible to think of anyone better qualified to fill this role), and is already hard at work setting these changes in motion. He will be assisted by administrators, staff, and faculty from across the university, including the tireless Cheryl Wall, who is serving as the Co-Chair of the Implementation Committee. With such significant changes afoot, we’re proud to have Barry and Cheryl leading the way.
Big organizations carry a lot of momentum – it’s tough to get them to change course, but when they do they can really get somewhere. For the last twenty years or so, Rutgers has been concentrating on becoming a top-tier research institution serving a well-educated and technology-focused state. Everyone knows Rutgers is a leader in scientific and agricultural research. The less tangible benefits, however, come from having a state university that’s also a leader in humanities research and artistic creation: philosophy, history, the study of other cultures, the fine arts, music, and of course, English. By re-dedicating itself to undergraduate liberal arts education, Rutgers is committing itself to educating a young generation for whom all things can connect, for whom the study of how to make a living and how to best remake the world are joined. Rutgers English is proud to play its part in this ambitious mission.
With New Jersey currently in a state of financial crisis, some might be tempted to see these ideals of education as a luxury we cannot afford. I do not, nor do thousands of alumni, nor do the current students, who may be asked to bear the brunt of that crisis. I think it’s fair to say that Rutgers has never faced the level of budgetary cuts that are currently being entertained in Trenton. Whatever number gets settled on, the University is in for some challenging times. I have no doubt that we will survive this round of cuts, but I also know that Rutgers English will need help to keep building on our own momentum.
So, if you’ve enjoyed the newsletter and what you’ve seen here about our dedication as a department, please consider making a contribution to support Friends of Rutgers English, and to help us continue developing new opportunities for students and new resources for excellence in teaching. And, if you value the work of the Department and of higher education more generally, please consider writing to your NJ state representatives or to Governor Corzine, and sharing your thoughts. Now is the time to speak out for the future of education, and for the humanities.
Keep in touch,
Richard E. Miller
Transforming Undergraduate Education at Rutgers
Support Rutgers English