APRIL 13, 2003
EDITOR’S NOTE: ATTENTION NEWS, EDUCATION, PHOTO EDITORS: A copy of President McCormick’s inaugural address can be viewed on the Web at http://www.president.rutgers.edu/remarks_041303.shtml. Downloadable, high-resolution photos of the inauguration are available at http://www.rutgers.edu/inauguration/gallery.html.
NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY , N.J. – In an inaugural address that offered a hopeful vision for the university despite difficult economic times, President Richard L. McCormick called for a new and stronger partnership between Rutgers and New Jersey. He described a future for Rutgers that will see the transformation of the 237-year-old institution into a true state university – one that both supports and is supported by the state it serves.
McCormick made his remarks today before a crowd of more than 2,000
that had gathered in the Louis Brown Athletic Center to witness
the 19th president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. New Jersey
Gov. James E. McGreevey, former Governor Jim Florio, presidents from colleges
and universities around the state and nation, and members of Rutgers’ governing
boards joined students, faculty, staff and alumni for this historic occasion.
“To all the people of New Jersey, we make this pledge: Rutgers will be your state university,” McCormick said. “We will work with you to meet the needs of the people of our state, to provide an outstanding education to our students, to discover and apply new knowledge, and to serve. And we, in turn, will expect you to help us and to support us with adequate funding. Rutgers and New Jersey are not going anywhere, except with each other. Neither of us can let the other down.”
Noting the many gains in academic quality and stature that Rutgers has made in recent years, McCormick added, “We serve our state best when our aspirations reach beyond its borders. It is the national and international distinction of our faculty and our research that makes us most valuable to the people here at home, especially to our 50,000 students.”
McCormick pledged deeper connections between Rutgers and the state’s K-12 schools and community colleges, and more productive relationships between the university and its host cities of Camden, Newark, New Brunswick and Piscataway. McCormick said that Rutgers would continue to expand its vital role in stimulating economic growth, preparing students for the 21st century economy and transferring technology from faculty laboratories to the private sector.
“Whatever challenges New Jerseyans are facing, whether in education, economic development, workforce training, transportation, health care or environmental protection, there will be Rutgers men and women working alongside them to help meet their needs,” McCormick said.
Rutgers’ new president noted the paradox facing the modern state university, which must address real-world issues while still creating knowledge for “the enrichment of our species.”
“ There are no world-class universities without strength in English as well as engineering, in classics as well as computer science, in musical theory as well as molecular biology. Whatever the marketplace may say, we must ensure the excellence of the humanities and the arts,” he said.
McCormick also spoke about the state’s troubling “brain drain.”
“ New Jersey leads the nation by far in the loss of high school graduates who go to college in other states. We need to confront this problem by increasing the enrollment capacity of our state’s colleges and universities—not only by putting more seats in the classrooms but also by assuring the quality of education our students receive,” he cautioned. “Generations before us met comparable challenges. We must do the same.”
McCormick stressed the importance of a vibrant state university to New Jersey’s future. “Wherever the economy is thriving, a research university is the engine of that growth,” he said. “If New Jersey is going to reassume the position of economic leadership that it had before the current downturn, then Rutgers must be strong enough to lead the way.”
In keeping with longstanding tradition, New Jersey’s governor addressed the gathering.
"In Dr. McCormick, Rutgers has a president and New Jersey has a leader who is ready to bring our State University to higher levels of public service and academic excellence,” said Gov. McGreevey. “On behalf of everyone in New Jersey, I am proud to welcome Dick McCormick back to his hometown. We wish him and his family a long and happy stay."
While more modest than earlier university inaugurations, McCormick’s ceremony featured many traditional elements, including a colorful academic procession of more than 840 faculty, students, staff, alumni, and delegates from other universities and educational associations. The procession concluded with a performance of a fanfare composed for the occasion by Mason Gross School of the Arts professor Gerald Chenoweth and performed by the Rutgers University Brass Ensemble.
Board of Governors Chair Gene O’Hara and Board of Trustees Chair Leslie E. Goodman presented the new president with a copy of the Rutgers charter.
Norman Samuels, the university’s executive vice president, welcomed the audience. Remarks were also given by Tanisha L. Bezue, a student at Rutgers’ Camden College of Arts and Sciences; Patricia A. Nagle, president of the Rutgers Alumni Federation; Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Corinne M. Webb, who represented Rutgers’ staff; Paul Panayotatos, chair of the University Senate; and Clement A. Price, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and professor of history.
In addition to the fanfare, there were performances by the Rutgers Glee Club, Kirkpatrick Choir and University Choir. The ceremony concluded with the entire audience singing the university’s alma mater.
Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth-oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities. Rutgers serves more than 50,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick/Piscataway.