Top 10 Things to Know About Rutgers University.
1. Colonial College. Rutgers is 1 of 9 "colonial colleges" in America, founded before independence in 1776. Only 2 of them are still known by their original names:
* 1636, New College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, across the Charles River from Boston. Harvard University.
* 1693, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.
* 1701, Collegiate School, New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University.
* 1742, College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania.
* 1746, College of New Jersey, Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University.
* 1754, King's College, New York, New York. Columbia University.
* 1764, College of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island. Brown University.
* 1766, Queen's College, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers University.
* 1769, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
2. Colonel Rutgers. It ran out of money in 1825, just as its new administration building was completed. Henry Rutgers, a veteran of the War of the American Revolution, a graduate of King's/Columbia, and an elder in the Dutch Reformed Church, then running the school, contributed some money to keep it open.
Old Queens, opened 1825
3. Land-Grant College. In spite of its urban presence (New Brunswick, Newark, Camden), under the Morrill Act of 1862, which funded educational institutions by granting federally controlled land to the States for them to sell, to raise funds, to establish and endow "land-grant colleges," for the purpose of teaching agriculture, science and engineering, Rutgers is the only land-grant college in New Jersey.
4. The First Football Game. Rutgers hosted what is generally recognized as the 1st college football game, against Princeton, on a field that is now covered by the parking lot behind the College Avenue Gym on College Avenue. Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4.
Arnold Friberg's painting The First Game,
commissioned for the Centennial celebration in 1969
The game is essentially a very large soccer game, with a round leather ball, and 25 men on a side. The Rutgers men, finding the color inexpensive to obtain, wrapped scarlet red cloth around their heads like turbans, so that they could tell each other apart on the field. Thus did they invent school colors and, in a way, the football helmet.
RU still advertises itself as "The Birthplace of College Football" and "Where It All Began." That was in 1869. What have they done in the 147 years since?
Well, for one thing, they built this stadium. Twice.
5. The State University. In 1956, several colleges, some already under the Rutgers banner, became part of the system known as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey:
* Rutgers College, the main campus, centered on College Avenue, north of downtown New Brunswick.
* Douglass College, known until 1955 as the New Jersey College for Women, making Rutgers co-ed. It is centered on George Street, south of downtown in New Brunswick. Its 1st dean and later its namesake, Mabel Smith Douglass, disappeared after going rowing on Lake Placid, New York in 1933. In 1963, her remarkably preserved and easily identifiable remains were found. She was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn -- where Henry Rutgers was also buried.
* The Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Originally known as the Rutgers College of Agriculture, it is adjacent to the Douglass Campus. It was later renamed for one of its professors, George Hammell Cook, founder of what became the U.S. Geological Survey. With its current name, you can understand why people still call it what it was named from 1975 to 2007: Cook College.
* The Busch Campus, across the Raritan River in Piscataway, on the west side of State Route 18. It includes several athletic facilities, including Rutgers Stadium (original version built 1938, new version opened on the same site in 1994 and now named High Point Solutions Stadium), and Yurcak Field, the soccer and lacrosse stadium.
It also includes the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, named for the Johnson & Johnson CEO, as is the former Middlesex General Hospital in New Brunswick, which is also part of the UMDNJ system now.
The Busch Campus was a country club until it was purchased, allowing the stadium to be built, and known as the University Heights Campus. The original golf course is intact. Charles L. Busch, who donated $10 million to the University for biological research after he died in 1971, and it was then renamed for him.
* The School of Arts and Sciences of Rutgers University, formerly Livingston College, also across the Raritan, on the east side of Route 18. It includes the rest of the athletic facilities, including the arena, the Louis Brown Athletic Center (usually still called by its old name, the Rutgers Athletic Center or The RAC), and the baseball complex. It was named for William Livingston, the 1st post-colonial Governor of the State.
* Rutgers-Newark. The part of the school in New Jersey's largest city began in 1908 as the New Jersey Law school. It merged with other schools to become the University of Newark in 1936. In 1946, it was brought under the Rutgers banner. (It should not be confused with NJIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, formerly Newark College of Engineering, or NCE, which is, effectively, next-door, as is Essex County College. That's why that part of Newark, as was Rutgers' Busch Campus, is known as University Heights.) It includes Rutgers Business School and Rutgers School of Law. (Seton Hall University, whose main campus is in nearby South Orange, also has its law school in Newark.)
* Rutgers-Camden. Founded in 1925 as the College of South Jersey and the South Jersey Law School, they were merged with Rutgers in 1950. They also compete in NCAA Division III, and their teams are called the Scarlet Raptors.
6. Streptomycin. This antibiotic, which gained fame as a treatment for tuberculosis, may be RU's greatest contribution to the world, far more so than "American football." It was first isolated on October 19, 1943, by Albert Schatz, a graduate student, in the laboratory of Selman Waksman, in a research product funded by Merck and Company.
Schatz and Waksman
Waksman and his staff discovered several other antibiotics, including neomycin. In 1952, Waksman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Schatz, who had to sue Waksman in order to get his proper credit, tends to get forgotten.
7. Alexander Library. The main library for the school, named for esteemed lawyer, State Treasurer, and University trustee Archibald S. Alexander, opened in 1956, on the site of Neilson Field, the school's football field from 1892 to 1938. In spite of RU's seemingly excessive focus on sports, show me another school that tore down a football stadium and put a library on the site!
8. Arts. In addition to partnering with the 3 performing arts centers on Monument Square downtown -- the State Theatre, the George Street Playhouse (even though it's actually on Livingston Avenue, as are the others) and the black-themed Crossroads Theatre -- RU is also home to the New Jersey Film Festival, annually screening at Scott Hall on the Voorhees Mall.
9. Famous Alumni. They include (listed with their year of graduation):
* Acting: Avery Brooks 1973, Sheryl Lee Ralph 1975, James Gandolfini 1983, Judy Gold 1984, Kristin Davis 1987, Calista Flockhart and Jane Krakowksi 1988 (both stars of Ally McBeal), Bell Bellamy 1989.
* Music: Ozzie Nelson 1927, Lisa "Sister Souljah" Williamson 1986, Matt Pinfield 1988, Soraya Cuevas 1991 (who used only her first name as a singer). Several bands got their start playing New Brunswick clubs, including the Looking Glass, the Smithereens and the Bouncing Souls.
* Authors: James Blish 1942, Michael Shaara 1951, Judith Viorst 1952 (wife of the aforementioned Milton), Robert Pinsky 1962, Janet Evanovich 1965, Junot Díaz 1991, Gregory Pardlo 1999. Joyce Kilmer, the New Brunswick-born poet who wrote "Trees" and was killed in World War I, attended as part of the Class of 1908, but did not graduate.
* Science: The aforementioned scientist Selman Waksman 1915 and Albert Schatz 1942, neonatalogy pioneer Louis Gluck 1930, fiber optics co-inventor Peter Schult 1964, and astronaut Terry Hart 1978.
* Business: Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus 1951, Former GEICO chairman Jack Byrne 1953, and Weight Watchers CEO Sharon Fordham 1975. You could also include economist Milton Friedman 1932 in this category.
* Sports, including but not limited to: Baseball, Jeff Torborg, Eric Young Sr. and Todd Frazier; basketball, Art Hillhouse, Bob Lloyd, Jim Valvano, Phil Sellers, Eddie Jordan, Hollis Copeland, James Bailey, Roy Hinson, John Battle, Sue Wicks, Dahntay Jones, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Cappie Pondexter, and, with some regret, former NBA Commissioner David Stern; football, Paul Robeson, Homer Hazel, Alex Kroll, Deron Cherry, Bill Pickel, Harry Swayne, Tyronne Stowe, Jay Bellamy, Ray Lucas, Shaun O'Hara, L.J. Smith, Raheem Orr, Joey Porter, twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty, Mohamed Sanu, and, perhaps the best player of them all, but now, with some regret, Ray Rice; soccer, Peter Vermes 1987, Alexi Lalas 1991 and Carli Lloyd 2004. You can also include sports administrator Sonny Werblin 1932, ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen 1960, and sportswriters Jerry Izenberg 1952 and Steven Goldman 1994.
* Politics: Continental Congressman and Senator James Schureman 1775, Senator Frederick Frelinghuysen 1836, Governor William Newell 1836, Congressman Jacob Wortendyke 1839; Vice President Garret Hobart 1863, Governor Foster Voorhees 1876 (for whom Voorhees Mall on the main capus is named), Senator Clifford Case 1925, Congressman Ed Patten 1927, Governor Richard Hughes 1931, Congressman Peter Rodino 1937, Congressman Herb Klein 1950, Congressman Matt Rinaldo 1953, Congressman William Hughes 1955 (no relation to Richard), Congressman Jim Howard 1958, Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary 1963, Governor Jim Florio 1967, FBI Director Louis Freeh 1971, Senator Bob Torricelli 1974, Senator Elizabeth Warren 1976; South Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross 1978, Senator Bob Menendez 1989 (his Juris Doctor degree, an undergraduate at St. Peter's College in Jersey City), newly-defeated Congressman Scott Garrett 1984, and former State Attorney General Anne Milgram 1992 (with whom I attended East Brunswick High School, although I didn't know her; I knew her sister Lynn a little).
* Others: Sculptor George Segal 1963, chef Mario Batali 1982 (he worked at New Brunswick's iconic eatery Stuff Yer Face in its early years), fashion designer Marc Ecko 1994. At least one fictional character is said to be a Rutgers graduate, although I don't think the school would want to claim him: Cartoon character Mr. Magoo.
Robeson, who left football to practice law, to act, and to be one of the great social activists of the mid-20th Century, is probably the Rutgers graduate who is the most famous around the world, but is often, as the Bible would say, a prophet without honor in his own country. RU embraces him, though: The student center at the Newark campus, with its majority-black student body, is named for him. And fellow RU graduate Avery Brooks wrote a play about him, and starred in its initial run, at the aforementioned George Street Playhouse.
I don't discuss my own college experiences on this blog, because I don't want to be reminded of them, for reasons that I don't care to share.
Happy Anniversary, RU. The Rutgers250 celebrations answer the question in the Alma Mater in the negative, but, for all its flaws, the school is still an important and productive part of life in New Jersey.
Said song was, like our National Anthem, based on an old British drinking song, perhaps appropriate for RU. It was "On the Banks of the Old Dundee," which is in Scotland. RU student Howard Fuller rewrote it for the school in 1873:
My father sent me to old Rutgers
and resolv’d that I should be a man.
And so I settled down
in that noisy college town
on the banks of the old Raritan.
On the banks of the old Raritan, my friends
where old Rutgers evermore shall stand.
For has she not stood
since the time of The Flood
on the banks of the old Raritan.