Published November 2, 2020
A Message from Christopher Molloy, Ph.D
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Greetings from New Brunswick!
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. Safety and well-being are of the utmost importance during this pandemic, which has required us to institute remote learning. Despite our physical distance, we remain committed to delivering a world-class education and building a community that flourishes.
Since the pandemic’s onset, Rutgers University–New Brunswick has risen to the challenge to serve students in New Jersey and around the world through remote instruction, meeting students in their time zones, with our high-tech learning spaces. We launched R-Connection, a central information hub for students and parents, faculty, and staff, to help us ensure student success and foster community.
Seven peer institutions from the Big Ten Academic Alliance have forged a new initiative to expand course offerings for undergraduate students this fall and connect students across the Big Ten, together, in a virtual classroom. This program enables students to venture beyond the confines of their home institutions and brings the unique offerings of other world-class academic programs within reach.
Rutgers has moved rapidly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic threat, taking advantage of important strengths that are unique to our university. Our faculty have been at the forefront in conducting groundbreaking research in response to the coronavirus.
Although we face unprecedented challenges, we remain committed to Rutgers’ three-fold mission:
providing for the educational needs of New Jersey through our undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs
conducting cutting-edge research that contributes to the health, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of the state, nation, and world, as well as strengthening the economy and supporting businesses and industries
performing public service in response to the needs of the people of the state and their local, county, and state governments
The following report provides a glimpse of how you and other donors are making an impact on the Rutgers community and around the world by helping us achieve our mission. Although it features only a few of the funds our donors support, I hope you will take pride in knowing you help make a difference at Rutgers. Your continued support will ensure that opportunities and success stories like these are possible today and tomorrow.
I wish each of you the very best in these trying times.
A Vital Source of Aid
When Rutgers students needed help the most, donors came together to support the School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Emergency Assistance Fund. The fund, which provides financial assistance to undergraduate students who have exhausted all other avenues of support, is a lifeline for many. In academic year 2019–2020, more than $45,000 from the fund went to students who lost a caregiver to the coronavirus, faced homelessness, or suffered job loss themselves or in their immediate family.
Joseph Vasquez, an exercise science major, was one student who benefited from this assistance. Vasquez lost his father, who was his primary source of financial support, to COVID-19 in April. As a result, Vasquez is working to support himself as he completes his degree. Amid this tragedy, he lost his on-campus job because of the pandemic and had no other family members to offer financial assistance. But thanks to assistance from the fund, he can continue on his path to graduate in May 2021.
At a time of uncertainty, the SAS Dean’s Emergency Assistance Fund continues to provide a vital source of relief for students in need.
Building an Inclusive Community
As one of the nation’s most diverse universities, Rutgers draws strength from the rich variety of perspectives and life experiences within its community. The Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement leads campuswide efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, and promotes and advocates for inclusiveness, diversity, and equity to achieve Rutgers’ strategic vision of preeminence in research, excellence in teaching, and commitment to community. Through federal funding, foundation partnerships, and philanthropic support, the Educational Equity Group supports college preparation, successful transition, timely degree completion, and postbaccalaureate preparation for historically underrepresented, low-income, and/or first-generation students.
The Diversity and Inclusion Support Fund supports strategic initiatives targeting areas of immediate concern, including retention of underrepresented minority faculty, enrollment enhancements for Black students, and closing the graduation gap for Black men. An example of this work is the Paul Robeson Success Institute. This signature, three-day experience named for one of Rutgers’ most notable alumni was launched in summer 2020 and prepared nearly 200 students for the transition to Rutgers. The high-impact experience targets first-generation, low-income, historically underrepresented students.
The Art of Giving
When Rutgers converted to remote classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and staff at Mason Gross School of the Arts had to adjust to a new form of learning. For many students, the transition wasn’t easy. Faculty members determined that about 15 percent of Mason Gross students lacked the basic tools to succeed during remote learning. Thanks to the immediate and heartfelt response of Mason Gross donors, the school provided free laptops to students needing them most.
“I was so desperate that I was at the point where I was completing my schoolwork on my cell phone,” says one student who received a laptop.
“This pandemic has hit my family very hard and caused unimaginable hardships, so I was unable to replace my laptop when it stopped working,” says another laptop recipient. ”This amazing opportunity could not have come at a better time for me! I am forever grateful to our generous donors.”
Support for Mason Gross students has never been more crucial. Beyond adapting to the dramatic changes in daily life brought on by the pandemic, many students and their families have suffered severe economic hardships. The response to the laptop initiative helped to ease the financial burden that many students faced and made pursuit of a college degree attainable. Efficient and reliable laptops can mean the difference in the completion of certain academic requirements. Donors’ generous gifts to the initiative have been a true lifeline for students at Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Support for Tomorrow’s Public Servants
Donor support for the Eagleton Graduate Fellowship Program at Eagleton Institute of Politics helps put a graduate degree within reach of many talented students who lack the financial resources to continue their education. The program also offers opportunities to learn directly from experts in the field, secure externships in state government, and network with professionals who can help students pursue public service careers.
Pennsylvania state senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, Eagleton Fellow Class of 1989, still appreciates the support she received from the Eagleton Fellowship program. “Thank you to everyone whose generosity has made the Eagleton Fellowship program possible!” Phillips-Hill says. “The program not only makes a difference in the lives of students who are interested in pursuing careers in politics and public service but also in the lives of the citizens that they serve. Thirty years later, I still draw on the education I received and the experiences that I had as an Eagleton Fellow in my service as a Pennsylvania state senator.”
Hans Goff, Eagleton Fellow Class of 2008, credits the fellowship with helping him achieve his degree in public policy. “Thank you to Eagleton alumni and donors for making the fellowship program possible! The tuition remission/stipend from the program made all the difference in helping to finance my degree in public policy. I credit my career on national campaigns and government to the real-world experience I obtained during the fellowship. I am forever grateful.”
This past year, the Eagleton Alumni Committee led the institute’s efforts on Rutgers Giving Day, resulting in more than 100 donors making gifts to the Alumni Fellowship Fund. The continued support of Eagleton alumni and donors ensures that current and future fellows will find the same success as Phillips-Hill and Goff.
Access Program Puts Textbooks within Reach
Gifts to the University Librarian’s Academic Excellence Fund support several programs and initiatives, including the Rutgers Open and Affordable Textbooks (OAT) Program. The annual incentive program offers research funds to Rutgers faculty who make their courses more affordable for their students. Options for doing this include incorporating library-licensed resources, material they developed themselves, and resources like open-access textbooks.
One OAT awardee, Anne Keating, an assistant teaching professor in the Division of Life Sciences, is part of a team of biology instructors who will replace their standard textbook, Campbell Biology, with an open-source edition hosted on OpenStax, a platform that provides access to Creative Commons-licensed textbooks. Students will be able to access the book, which is written by experts and peer-reviewed like a traditional textbook, in its entirety online for free.
“I think it is our responsibility to make use of these resources,” says Keating. “If we can offer a student a free textbook that is robust, accessible, and easy to use instead of expecting them to pay over $100, I think it’d be irresponsible for us not to consider using it.”
Since the OAT Program’s debut in 2016, it has saved students across the university more than $5.7 million. This year alone, the initiative is estimated to save about 16,400 students more than $2.1 million on the cost of textbooks and other course materials.