Credit: Roy Groething
President Richard L. McCormick announces
his recommendations for undergraduate
education in New Brunswick/Piscataway at
a March 7 press briefing at Old Queen's.
McCormick’s recommendations to improve undergraduate education on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus include:
• Establishment of the School of Arts and Sciences. All arts and sciences undergraduates in New Brunswick/Piscataway will receive their degrees from this school.
• Unified admissions standards, general education criteria and graduation requirements for all arts and sciences students in New Brunswick/Piscataway. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will have the authority to establish these standards.
• More participation by arts and sciences faculty in undergraduate education, consistent with the role of faculty at peer research universities. Faculty will have greater opportunities to focus time and energy on undergraduates.
• Cook College renamed the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and continuing as a distinct professional school within Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway.
• A campuswide honors program for all undergraduates to serve as a magnet for high-achieving students.
• A core curriculum for undergraduates, developed by the faculty.
• Improved student services throughout New Brunswick/Piscataway. Deans, staff, facilities and other resources at each residential campus will maximize quality and convenience.
• Creation of a first-year seminar program open to all first-year students in New B Brunswick/Piscataway. Highly regarded senior faculty will teach these one-credit courses, which will immediately connect first-year students to the university’s rich academic and research opportunities. McCormick has indicated he hopes to teach a first-year seminar.
• Encouraging Rutgers students to end their undergraduate careers with a “capstone experience,” such as a senior thesis, a research project or a service learning experience.
• Acceleration of plans to expand the student center on the Livingston campus, a top priority of Livingston students. McCormick announced a 2007 groundbreaking for the project.
The final recommendations resulted from unprecedented campuswide discussion among students, faculty, staff and alumni. These discussions followed the July 2005 release of a 178-page report developed by the Task Force on Undergraduate Education, appointed in April 2004 by McCormick and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski. After the task force released its report, students, faculty, staff and alumni discussed its recommendations in depth at nearly 40 hearings, forums and meetings organized by university groups. Several Rutgers community members produced alternative proposals.
“We have held an extraordinary and lively discussion over the past eight months,” McCormick said. “The conversation has been enlightening and important and has revealed some valuable insights.” McCormick said his recommendations reflect the comments that he received from students, faculty, staff, alumni and university organizations, particularly the University Senate, the New Brunswick Faculty Council and the Rutgers Board of Trustees.
Furmanski said the president’s recommendations will reduce substantially the challenges caused by the university’s present structure, a system of arbitrary hurdles that confuses students and hinders their access to academic programs and other opportunities.
“These much-needed, decisive reforms will break down many barriers and significantly enhance opportunities for generations of Rutgers undergraduates,” Furmanski said.
Furmanski also praised McCormick’s leadership. “The president has shown tremendous courage in his unflagging commitment to reforming undergraduate education at Rutgers and creating an environment that best serves our students,” Furmanski said.
To accomplish the transformation of undergraduate education, the university will marshal existing resources and will make many of these changes a priority in the university’s next capital campaign, McCormick said.