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Not a Goodbye But a Thank You
President Richard L. McCormick addresses staff at final treasurer’s luncheon
During his last end-of-the-year address to staff, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick offered a poignant “thank you” for the support he received as he led the university through a period of growth and transformation.
“I titled this talk ‘A Decade’s Worth of Thanks,’ because that is what I have been feeling about the incredible team of people I have been privileged to lead since 2002,’’ McCormick said.
He made his remarks at the recent treasurer’s luncheon, a regular event organized by the Office of Finance and Administration primarily as a way to bring staff together to share information. The president traditionally offers a year-end wrap-up at the final event of the spring semester.
Bruce C. Fehn, senior vice president for finance and administration, thanked McCormick for his leadership. He described the president as someone who has deep pride in the university, is always eager to give credit and isn’t concerned about taking credit for himself.
“He is always thinking about what is best for Rutgers, and he always wants what is best for the university,’’ Fehn said.
Fehn also commended the president’s wife, Joan Barry McCormick, for helping to secure some of the university’s largest gifts. Joan McCormick is the former director of principal gifts at the Rutgers University Foundation and is president of Joan McCormick Fundraising LLC.
The president’s remarks took on special meaning this year and were filled with emotion as he approaches the end of his tenure this month. He offered his gratitude before a crowd of more than 300 people for their daily dedication to their jobs, as well as their vision and efforts that helped steer the university through a decade of significant change.
“I started to think about the numbers of employees at our university, and then the numbers of hours you work every year, and the number of tasks you do during the course of a day all to make Rutgers stronger,’’ McCormick said.
He reflected on the growth of the student body – the Class of 2012 is largest and most diverse in the university’s history – and the expansion of facilities. He also applauded the university community for attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in research funding.
“These grants are coming because we have enormously talented faculty doing research across the disciplines on human problems that really matter,’’ McCormick said.
He also reflected on the massive undertaking that led to the transformation of undergraduate education, which included the creation of a unified School of Arts and Sciences.
As a result of these changes a student “is much better prepared for life and work and leadership in the 21st century than he or she would otherwise be,’’ McCormick said. “A great many of you played a part in making the undergraduate experience better, and I thank you for that.’’
Although his last day on June 30 is fast approaching, McCormick said he still has work left to do, which includes advocating to bring a bond issue before voters in November that could fund the construction of higher education facilities. It would be the first statewide bond issue for higher education in 24 years.
He also addressed the most pressing issue for the university: the proposed realignment of higher education in New Jersey.
“My firm hope is that we will very soon have a solution in Trenton that will enable Rutgers to integrate the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the School of Public Health and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey into Rutgers while also preserving our campus in Camden,’’ McCormick said to applause.
He listed the advantages of incorporating a medical school that include strengthening programs in the life sciences, raising the university’s academic profile and expanding its reach. He also expressed his confidence that incoming president Robert L. Barchi “comes exceedingly well prepared for the leadership of an academic medical center within a great university.’’
McCormick ended on a personal note, speaking about his family’s deep ties to Rutgers. The McCormicks’ connection dates back to 1934, when his father Richard P. McCormick stepped on campus as a freshman just out of out of Tenafly High School. The president isn’t cutting all ties to Rutgers. After a yearlong sabbatical he will return as a member of the faculty – a position he held at the start of his career 35 years ago – to teach history and education. He also plans to work on two book projects: one on the history of Rutgers and a separate one on political corruption.
Next to his family, McCormick said, “this university means more to me than anything else and I thank you for the privilege of being your president’’ as the crowd rose to its feet to give him a standing ovation.