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- University News
Rutgers-Camden in the 1980s
The 1980s began with the promise of full-time student life at Rutgers–Camden. In 1982, the university’s Board of Governors approved a two-phase student housing program. In May 1984, the board awarded the contract for the first phase of the project: a 248-bed, six-story housing unit, located between Second and Third Streets on Cooper Street. The $6.5 million building opened in August 1986, bringing students to Rutgers–Camden from 14 states and countries like Canada, Greece, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Japan.
That same year Rutgers acquired the Walt Whitman International Poetry Center from the City of Camden. Formerly Johnson Library, named for Eldridge Johnson, founder of RCA, the Greek revival building also featured a charming fountain and surrounding statues originally created for a children’s library active during Camden’s heyday.
Students at the time took note of Rutgers–Camden’s gradual evolution into a thriving urban campus. The following passage was published in the 1981 student yearbook Mneme: “I took a walk around campus the other day. I walked the same places I did four years ago when I was a freshman. Parking lots and grass have replaced the old abandoned houses. The constant flux, the ever-changing face of the campus symbolizes to me a changing life… Memories are sweet but they’re also fleeting. A growing university taught me to live for the future.”
Changes to the Campus also came with new leadership and academic offerings. Prof. John Pittenger, former Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was named dean of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden on July 1, 1981; during the same year, The Graduate School–Camden was founded. After Dean Pittenger returned to the faculty, Prof. Richard Singer became dean of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden on July 1, 1986.
The Rutgers School of Business—Camden was established in September 1988 to serve an ever-increasing number of students seeking degrees in accounting, management, business studies, or a master of business administration degree. Dr. Rick Elam served as inaugural dean. Dr. Milton Leontiades took the helm of the school as acting dean in 1989, and then dean in 1991. The dedication of the expanded student apartment building, designed specifically for graduate students, brought the total number students calling Rutgers–Camden home to 500. In September 1989, a $9 million Business and Science building opened, featuring four-stories of classroom and office space and a distinctive chevron-shaped glass front.
The new facilities constructed on Campus made a lasting impression on students, as recorded in the student yearbook: “My perspective of the school changes with each new addition. It’s like something stable, something permanent is added, and I must do my part to contribute something. I see a new building and I know this was built for me, so I can have the benefits of it. I became prouder and more determined to take advantage of the facilities around me.”
Media Contact: Cathy K. Donovan