The Rutgers Science and Engineering Resource Center was named Monday for T. Alexander Pond, a Rutgers leader credited with helping raise the university’s profile from a good regional school to a world-class research institution.
Rutgers administrators, faculty, family, and guests gathered on the Busch Campus to dedicate the recently renovated facility, now named the T. Alexander Pond Science and Engineering Resource Center. It is one of the most heavily used buildings on the Busch Campus, with classrooms, lecture halls, reading and study spaces, and a library.
President Richard L. McCormick presided over a ceremony unveiling Pond’s name on the building’s exterior that faces the Hill Center and the Engineering Building. Then in a ceremony inside the building, he shared his recollections of Pond.
“I served as dean of Arts and Sciences for three years when Alec Pond was executive vice president,” said McCormick. “I saw up close what an extraordinary academic leader he was.”
Together with Rutgers president Edward J. Bloustein, Pond worked to attract world-class scholars to the university, develop relationships with Governor Tom Kean and the New Jersey Legislature, and establish highly regarded research centers in areas such as ceramics, optical materials, marine science, and advanced food technology.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that their collaboration with our faculty propelled Rutgers to a new and hitherto unseen level of excellence as a research university, and was the factor behind our invitation to join the Association of American Universities in 1989,” said McCormick.
Bloustein appointed Pond executive vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer in 1982, after Pond’s 20-year tenure at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. There he first served as chair of the physics department and later served as the university’s executive vice president and acting president.
During the period between Bloustein’s death in 1989 and the appointment of Francis L. Lawrence as president in 1990, Pond served as the university’s acting president. He was then appointed University Professor in the Department of Physics, a position he retired from in 1997.
Several of the program’s attendees who worked closely with Pond offered their recollections of him as a great academic leader, with a commitment to excellence and deep respect for the faculty. Speakers included Paul Leath, professor of physics and astronomy and provost emeritus; Susan Cole, president of Montclair State University; Aaron Shatkin, professor and director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine; and Kenneth Breslauer, vice president for health science partnerships and dean of life sciences.
But Pond’s son, Ward, offered a lighter recollection of his father, who passed away in August of 2010. Ward was a university student when his father accepted the Rutgers offer, and remembers his father calling to tell him he’d taken the job at “the state university of New Jersey.” The younger Pond was quick to reply with the stereotypical Jersey joke. “What exit?” He recalls Pond’s stentorian voice coming through full force on the phone. “That’s not funny anymore!” And, sure enough, said Ward, “For the next 29 years, until last August, not a single New Jersey joke passed from the man’s lips.”
Media Contact: Carl Blesch