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Saturday April 29, 2017

Celebrating Rutgers’ 250th Anniversary

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Monday November 9, 2015

Celebrating Rutgers’ 250th Anniversary

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A yearlong tribute to Rutgers’ founding to showcase scholarship, history and revolutionary thinking

Rutgers 250
Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University
The Rutgers 250 celebration kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 10, on Old Queens Lawn, with colonial bell ringers, food, glowing fires, fife-and-drum corps, a bell choir, Mason Gross musicians and the Scarlet Knight on horseback.
The story of Rutgers University has many chapters, is richly diverse and is written throughout New Jersey. But it has one beginning, 250 years ago.

On Nov. 10, 1766, the charter establishing Queen’s College was signed, setting the foundation for today’s Rutgers University, with more than 67,000 students attending 31 schools and colleges in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden. On that historic day, William Franklin, the last colonial governor of New Jersey, penned into being one of nine colonial colleges established before the revolution, with the aim of training young men in the ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Rutgers is marking its 250th anniversary with a yearlong celebration that will include academic symposia and events, lectures and classes, notable speakers, concerts, books and films – culminating in a “Day of Revolutionary Thinking” on Nov. 10, 2016. That’s when invited alumni will return to Rutgers classrooms and lecture halls as Rutgers 250 fellows to share their expertise with students across disciplines, schools and campuses.

“This is a great moment in Rutgers’ history,” said President Robert Barchi. “While we look back with pride at Rutgers’ remarkable past, the crowning Rutgers 250 event will be about the future. We will welcome home alumni who have done standout work in their fields and connect them with the next generation of thinkers and leaders throughout Rutgers.”

The festivities begin Tuesday, Nov. 10, on Old Queens lawn, the historic heart of Rutgers. The Rutgers community will ring in the anniversary year with colonial bell ringers, food, glowing fires, fife-and-drum corps, a bell choir, Mason Gross musicians and the Scarlet Knight on horseback. Between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., you can try on a tricorn hat, take a picture in a photo booth, test your Rutgers trivia and catch a screening of the Rutgers 250 film, Our Revolutionary Spirit.

The Rutgers 250 organizers created a broad, unifying theme to allow many stories about Rutgers history to be told in a variety of ways.  “We wanted the people of the Rutgers community to lead the way, and they have,” said Jorge Schement, vice chancellor, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Schement also is chair of the Rutgers 250th anniversary planning committee.

Rutgers 250
Rutgers is celebrating its 250th anniversary through a yearlong, university-wide celebration with academic and cultural events.
The anniversary will be celebrated throughout Rutgers schools and campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden. Programs continue to be planned for the upcoming year, and Rutgers community members can submit events and programs that meet the 250th spirit to be included in the celebration. A Rutgers 250 website has everything you need to know about what’s ahead.

“We have created a coordinating theme that we’re inviting university community members to embrace and use to tell the story they want to tell,” said Kim Manning, vice president for Rutgers University Communications and Marketing. “That’s an appropriate way to do it at Rutgers, which has such a diverse wealth of stories to share. ”

Here are some of the ways the story of Rutgers will be told throughout the year.

Speakers, seminars and symposia

Academic gatherings to debate some of today’s most challenging topics will take place to mark the 250th. Symposia on the future of higher education, humanities and sciences are being planned, the first on higher education in transition on April 17, 2016. The keynote speaker will be William Bowen, the author and former president of Princeton University who has written extensively on higher education issues, including the role online education can play in making college education accessible and affordable. 

Next fall, an Oct. 26 symposium on the role of humanities in education in the 21st century will feature Kwame Anthony Appiah, a New York University philosophy professor, author and “The Ethicist” columnist in the New York Times, and Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies. The groundbreaking scientific research that is occurring at Rutgers will be the topic of a third symposium next fall. All symposia will be open to the university community and the public.

Here’s a sampling of more revolutionary academic programs and events:

  • The featured theme for the 2015-2016 Byrne seminars, one-credit classes designed to introduce first-year students to academic life and research at Rutgers, is Revolutionary Research and Academic Innovation.  In this culinary history seminar, for example, students get a taste of food through the centuries and Rutgers’ role in shaping the food supply.
  • In Camden, a symposium on housing, segregation and poverty next week will explore housing policies in different nations and how they affect affordable housing opportunities and poverty rates. 
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will speak at Rutgers in April.
  • A Newark Jazz Concert will be performed at the Paul Robeson Center at Rutgers-Newark on March 2, 2016, hosted by Wayne Winborne, executive director of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, and Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor.
  • Throughout the year, seminars including “The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care” at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will take place, pegged to Rutgers’ revolutionary beginnings.
  • A directed research class and project, “From Exclusion to Inclusion: Women at Rutgers,” at the Institute for Women’s Leadership will result in a public presentation of findings and a documentary timed for International Women’s Day in March 2016.
  • During the spring of 2016, a “History of Rutgers University” online course will be available to students and alumni.
  • In the summer, Rutgers 250 will be celebrated at New Jersey’s county fairs, where health screenings will be offered and other exhibits will be on display.

Sharing Rutgers’ story

Books commemorating Rutgers’ history have been published ahead of the university’s milestone. Rutgers: A 250th Anniversary Portrait unpacks Rutgers’ story through more than 200 archival and recent photographs, historical narratives, a look at remarkable achievements by renowned faculty, and personal stories and memories of alumni. A second book, Rutgers Since 1945: A History of the State University of New Jersey, by historian Paul G.E. Clemens, chronicles the university’s journey from a small liberal arts college for men in the 1940s to the major public research university it is today.

Rutgers: A 250th Anniversary Portrait
Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University
Rutgers: A 250th Anniversary Portrait

A short film highlighting some of the revolutionary leaders in Rutgers’ history, Our Revolutionary Spirit, will be unveiled at the Nov.  10 kickoff festivities,  while a Rutgers anniversary television spot will begin to air on the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 1, and other networks. Profiles of revolutionary faculty and alumni who have changed lives will be featured on Rutgers Today throughout the year.

Meanwhile, artifacts from centuries past can be found at the “Rutgers Through the Centuries: 250 Years of Treasures from the Archives” exhibit, which opens Nov.  12 at Alexander Library. And a visit to the Zimmerli Art Museum reveals how Simeon DeWitt, the 14th graduate of Queen’s College, produced hand-drawn maps enabling George Washington’s Continental Army to move throughout New Jersey.

On social media, everyone can get involved. Post your Rutgers photos, videos and stories to social media with the hashtag #Rutgers250 and the post may also be featured on this #Rutgers250 website. Soon you will be able to download a Rutgers 250 mobile app, developed by a student team.  The app will deliver “Today in Rutgers History” facts and provide historic and thematic walking tours of Rutgers campuses.

Through the efforts of Rutgers University-Camden, South Jersey residents will see the Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Camden and Philadelphia glow scarlet red on the night of Nov. 10, 2015, to mark the start of the celebration. Camden City Hall also will be lit in honor of Rutgers’ beginnings on the same night.

On April 30, Rutgers Day will be celebrated at Rutgers-New Brunswick, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden for the first time and will coincide again with Alumni Weekend. The 250th also will be noted during the 2016 commencement ceremonies. The anniversary year will close on the evening of Nov. 10, 2016, with, among other festivities, a celebration honoring the Rutgers 250 fellows.

“So many different parts of Rutgers University are coming together to make this a true celebration,” said Matthew Weismantel, a senior director who oversees Rutgers 250 initiatives and activities for University Marketing and Communications. “It is a great unifier and a great point of pride.”

For more information on Rutgers 250 plans and events, go to the Rutgers 250 website.

– Dory Devlin


Media Contact: Dory Devlin, 973-973-7276, dory.devlin@rutgers.edu

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