Courtney Thornton| Staff Writer
The 2011-2012 school year was, arguably, one of the most tumultuous school years in the history of Rutgers-Camden. This year, members of the Rutgers community begin to move forward. This year, faculty and students have been introduced to a new Rutgers president. After being in office for 10 years, former president Richard McCormick decided to step down as president of Rutgers University. President Robert Barchi has stepped in to succeed former president Richard McCormick.
Rutgers has reached some major milestones, including the merge with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. President Barchi aspires to amplify these milestones. To begin the growth process at RU, President Barchi plans to make clear what the University’s goals are. Barchi explained that there are five main goals for the University: articulate a realistic vision, develop a practical strategy, try to improve our standing as a top research university, focus on key areas of excellence, and to raise the visibility of Rutgers as one of the top universities in the U.S. In a public statement, Barchi said, “We have begun the first, information-gathering stage of strategic planning. So far, we have surveyed our governing boards and have had one-on-one conversations with some board members and with all the deans across the three campuses. We have also set up a dedicated website to gather input from the university community and update everyone on the process.” All members of the Rutgers community are welcome view the progress of RU at http://universitystrategy.rutgers.edu.
President Barchi stresses the importance of community involvement and input in the RU growth process. Many of the strategic planning meetings have already transpired. First, he held surveys for RU students, staff, alumni, and deans. Second, he had departmental discussions in which every department of RU gave their perspective of the university’s strategy. Third, he had focus groups with the student leadership to get some ideas for RU. Fourth, he held a team retreat on March 6th, in which about 200 people were invited. The discussions at the retreat will be a tool to shape RU for the next decade.
President Barchi has also started a series of Town Hall meetings to provide more information to the public. The first Town Hall meeting was on Thursday, March 7 in the 401 Penn classroom. At this meeting, Barchi discussed Rutgers’ strategic process and answered all of the questions students and faculty had about RU. Four more Town Hall meetings have been scheduled and students, staff, alumni and faculty are encouraged to attend and give their input.
Advisory groups of selected students, faculty, and deans have been organized and will meet regularly. The list of the members of the advisory groups can be viewed online at http://universitystrategy.rutgers.edu/about/advisory-councils.
Barchi greatly emphasizes the importance of community involvement and input, saying “Our university wide strategy will outline a coherent vision, with clear plans and goals for our future. As we proceed, we need to hear from everyone with a stake in Rutgers’ success.”
During the Rutgers-Rowan merger controversy in 2011-2012, RU students have proven themselves to be vocal and aggressive in order to get what they want. Many students held signs in protest. Other students even attended rallies in Northern New Jersey. RU students know exactly how to make their voices heard and their opinions known. President Barchi is aware of this fact. “There will be many opportunities to provide your perspective on the strategy for the university. I have seen the passion that so many of you have for Rutgers, and so I have high expectations for strong participation from throughout our community. I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities to let us know what you think and what you hope for Rutgers’future,” said President Barchi.
The next Town Hall meeting will be on March 12th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Livingston student center in the multipurpose room. March 28th at 3:00 p.m. at the Rutgers Student Center, multipurpose room is the fourth Town Hall meeting. The fifth Town Hall meeting will be on Thursday April 4th at 1:30 p.m. at the Rutgers-Newark Robeson Center, Essex room 231-232. The final meeting will be on Wednesday April 17th at 10:00 a.m. at the Douglas Campus Center, Trayes Hall.
The voices and opinions of RU students are pivotal to the molding stage of Rutgers University. The members of the Rutgers community are key figures in the future of Rutgers. With the help of students, staff, faculty, and deans, President Barchi can achieve the goals that he has set for Rutgers.