Published November 2, 2020
A Message from Josh Harraman, Ph.D.
Vice President for Alumni Engagement, Annual Giving, and Advancement Communications
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. Over the past eight months, we have faced unprecedented circumstances resulting from a pandemic and national unrest spurred by a reckoning of racial inequality. However, Rutgers University remains committed to its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends worldwide. Despite tremendous uncertainties, Rutgers continues fulfilling its role as one of the nation’s preeminent comprehensive public research universities.
Rutgers also continues its national leadership in response to COVID-19, studying the impact of COVID-19 on kidneys and partnering with the state to launch the Community Contact Tracing Corps Program. Rutgers New Jersey Medical School will serve as a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial site and the Graduate School of Education helped prepare teachers across the state for the hybrid approach of in-person and remote learning in public schools. At the direction of President Jonathan Holloway, Rutgers is beginning to identify and take measurable actions to promote equity and inclusion.
Rutgers is again delivering courses remotely this fall, and a majority of our student-athletes remain on the sidelines. However, the university continues to provide intellectually rigorous teaching, world-class research, and broad-ranging public services. Rutgers’ ability to educate its students and contribute to the world remains unaffected.
The generous support of donors like you enables Rutgers to accomplish this vital work. I am grateful to you for providing the resources to find solutions to these challenges and many others.
The following report provides a glimpse of how you and other donors help better the Rutgers community and the world. Although it features only a few of the funds our donors support, I hope you will take pride in knowing you make a difference at Rutgers. Your continued support will ensure that opportunities and success stories like these are possible today and tomorrow.
Putting 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 OAT debuted 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.
Fund Fuels Pandemic Response
Established at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rutgers COVID-19 Response Fund supports research, education, and clinical care at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Gifts to this fund enable our scientists, physicians, nurses, and medical students to fight the devastating pandemic.
Rutgers has assumed leadership in three essential ways:
Innovative testing and treatment solutions: Rutgers is directly addressing critical, nationally identified needs to detect and treat COVID-19, including several new methods of testing, such as at-home saliva tests, vaccine development, and more.
Clinical care for communities: Rutgers continues to provide medical care for thousands of New Jersey residents with or at risk for COVID-19 infection.
Public health: Rutgers has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Health to implement a collaborative and robust contact tracing initiative, which is key to slowing community spread of COVID-19 in the Garden State.
A Vital Source of Aid
With Rutgers once again implementing remote instruction, students who rely on university resources continue to face hardships, including housing issues, food insecurity, and income loss due to suspended student employment. Rutgers is committed to assisting these students and has been able to do so, thanks to the generosity of donors who have contributed to Rutgers’ emergency relief funds.
The emergency funds include:
Rutgers–New Brunswick Dean of Students Emergency Fund
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Student Emergency Fund
Rutgers–Newark Student Emergency Fund
Rutgers–Camden Chancellor’s Emergency Fund
More than ever, donor support for these funds provides a lifeline to students hit especially hard by the pandemic. Here is just one expression of gratitude from a student who has been helped by donor support for the student emergency funds:
Boris Nolasco, an environmental science major who will graduate in 2021, received emergency aid from the fund and describes the difference the support made in his life. “The extra funding not only helped my family keep a roof over our heads, but it also provided a sense of stability for us as we continued to work, study, and care for one another through such uncertain times,” he says. “I do hope more can be made available so that other students can, even for a minute, have peace of mind again. Thank you.”
A Promise Fulfilled
Scarlet Promise Grants offer essential financial aid and emergency support to talented students for whom a world-class Rutgers education otherwise would be impossible. They are a vital resource for Rutgers students, a large majority of whom require assistance to attend the university, last year demonstrating $100 million in unmet financial need. In an era of declining state funding, philanthropy plays an increasingly critical role in our students’ success.
The grants provide need-based aid to Rutgers undergraduates as part of their financial aid packages and, in some cases, to relieve short-term, temporary financial hardship.
On his first official day in office, July 1, 2020, President Jonathan Holloway kick-started a $10 million focused fundraising campaign for the Scarlet Promise Grants program. Holloway personally donated $75,000 to the program, which he called “the best vehicle we have to address the financial needs of our most economically at-risk students.”
The campaign’s success will ensure that hard-working students like Amber Mayfield, a Rutgers–Camden nursing student, can stay on the path to a college degree. “Receiving a Scarlet Promise Grant has been such an honor and relief,” Mayfield says. “It means so much to me that there are people out there that believe in supporting students like me who are striving to achieve our dreams and better the world.”
A Path to Success
Each year, the Rutgers Future Scholars program offers 200 first-generation, low-income, academically promising middle-school students from New Brunswick, Piscataway, Newark, Camden, and Rahway the opportunity for a college education.
Rutgers Future Scholars prepares students for college by providing them with honors classes, cultural events, career skills, sports, and more. Future scholars are expected to complete their regular school work and additional requirements of the program.
Students who complete the five-year program and are accepted at Rutgers receive full tuition funding through scholarships, Scarlet Promise Grants, and federal grants to attend the university.
Inaya Thompson is a biology/pre-medicine major at Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences who participated in the Rutgers Future Scholars program. She hopes to enter medical school after graduating in 2023 and eventually become a doctor of naturopathic medicine.
“In the seventh grade, when I was chosen to be a Rutgers Future Scholar, I had my mind set on becoming a part of the Rutgers community,” Thompson says. “Every year when we had to attend summer sessions, it gave me the encouragement and fuel to know that I could be a proud member of this community that truly cares and inspires you to keep pushing. Knowing that I have a community that is by my side to provide me with assistance financially and morally allows me to continue to push and bring in more students like me into this program.”
Thompson thanks Rutgers Future Scholars donors for the chance to “dream, believe, and succeed. Without your generosity, many students who come from challenging backgrounds would not have a chance to get in and afford a school like Rutgers. I thank you for devoting your time and efforts to contribute to this program.”