Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the premier
public research university of New Jersey and one of the oldest and most highly
regarded institutions of higher education in the nation. More
students and 22,000 faculty and staff learn, work, and serve the public
at Rutgers locations across New Jersey and around the world.
One of only nine colonial colleges established before the
American Revolution, a fledgling Queen's College, chartered in 1766, was swept
up in the struggle for independence. During the war, students, faculty, and
alumni joined the fight for freedom. As the British pursued George Washington
through New Jersey, classes were held sporadically in churches and private
homes around the New Brunswick area.
After the war, the college continued to struggle financially
and faced some difficult options. School trustees considered moving the college
to New York. At one point, the Board of Trustees voted on a resolution to merge
with Princeton. The measure failed by one vote.
Plagued by a lack of funds, trustees shuttered and reopened
the school twice between 1795 and 1825. At the second revival, the school was
renamed to honor Colonel Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War veteran and a
well-regarded member of the Dutch Reformed Church. Soon after, Colonel Rutgers
gave the namesake school a bell and donated the interest from a bond.
By the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution had
brought sweeping change to America--and to the liberal arts tradition in higher
education. An act of Congress established a system of state land-grant colleges
to train students in the mechanical arts and agriculture. In 1864, Rutgers
prevailed over Princeton to become the state's land-grant college, an event
that led to Rutgers' emergence as a modern institution of higher learning. In
1880, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station was established to bring
scientific rigor to farming practices. Over the next several decades, Rutgers
began offering graduate studies and expanded its offerings in the sciences, including
pharmaceutical (1892) and engineering (1914) programs. In 1921, the College of
Agriculture (later Cook College and now the School of Environmental and
Biological Sciences) was founded.
New Jersey's State University
In 1924, Rutgers College officially became Rutgers
University, a reflection of the institution's rapidly expanding number of
schools and academic programs. Early in the century, Rutgers had begun offering
educational opportunities to women when the New Jersey College for Women (now
Douglass Residential College) was founded in 1918, and to adult learners when
University College was established in 1934. After World War II, enrollment
exploded as Rutgers, still a private institution, admitted all qualified
candidates under the GI Bill. Rutgers was becoming an institution for all
people, and in 1945 and 1956, state legislative acts formally designated
Rutgers as The State University of New Jersey.
A flurry of expansion ensued. The University of Newark (now
Rutgers University–Newark) joined Rutgers in 1946, followed by the College of
South Jersey (now Rutgers University–Camden) in 1950. An ambitious building
program added libraries, classrooms, and student housing. In 1969, Livingston
College opened, providing a coeducational residential experience with a special
commitment to diversity. Graduate education in the arts and sciences grew
through the establishment of the Graduate School-New Brunswick, the Graduate
School-Newark, and the Graduate School-Camden. Professional schools were formed
to serve students in the fields of business; communication, information, and
library studies; criminal justice; education; fine arts; law; management and
labor relations; nursing; planning and public policy; psychology; public
affairs and administration; and social work. Meanwhile, as industry and
government sought partners in solving problems and advancing knowledge, the
concept of the research university emerged.
Major Public Research University
In 1981, Rutgers adopted a blueprint for its transformation
into a major public research university. With increased support from state,
federal, and corporate partners, Rutgers' strength in research grew
dramatically. In 1989, in recognition of its enhanced stature, Rutgers was
invited to join the prestigious Association of American Universities, an
organization comprising the top 62 research universities in North America.
Today, professors and students work in more than 300 specialized research
centers, unraveling mysteries in marine sciences, health care, early childhood
education, neuroscience, advanced materials, climate change, nutrition,
homeland security, transportation, and many other areas that can improve life
both in New Jersey and around the world.
A 2007 major reorganization of undergraduate education in
New Brunswick reinvigorated the undergraduate experience for both students and
faculty by combining the traditions and strengths of four undergraduate liberal
arts college--Douglass, Livingston, Rutgers, and University--into a single
School of Arts and Sciences.
In 2013, a historic restructuring of higher education in New
Jersey took place. A state legislative act transferred to Rutgers much of the
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey--seven schools, including
existing faculty practices, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and University
Behavioral Health Care. Rutgers now includes the highest level of biomedical
and scientific research coupled with clinical care.
With 32 schools and colleges, Rutgers offers over 100
undergraduate majors and more than 200 graduate and professional degree
programs. The university graduates more than 16,000 students each year and has
nearly 450,000 living alumni residing in all 50 states and on six continents.