whither higher “ed”?

I am a graduate of Rutgers University (B.A., RC ’92). Like many Rutgers alumni, I am beset by a range of emotions in light of the recent events surrounding the basketball program. To be blunt, President Barchi and AD Pernetti should follow Mike Rice out the door. They have no business leading young men and women and clearly do not treat RU as an institution of higher education.

Their failures are well documented and go beyond the Mike Rice situation, which has been nicely reported on by Ted Sherman and Kelly Heyboer at NJ.com. Their failures go beyond the hiring of and failure to fire a coach who physically, verbally, and mentally abused his players. Their failures have placed the university’s academic programs in financial danger, have damaged its global reputation, and have made a general mockery of one of the 9 original colonial (pre-revolution) colleges.  Here are just a few articles written about how RU Athletics, under their direction (and that of former president McCormick) has pillaged the university coffers.

Expensive Sports at Rutgers

Rutgers Students Pay Nearly $1,000 Each to Finance Athletics

Rutgers Athletic Department Needs Fees, Funds to Stay Afloat

Rutgers Athletics Grow at Expense of Academics Unlike at Texas

Big Ten move is expected to pay dividends, Rutgers officials say

In a nutshell, by some accounts Rutgers spends more on its athletics than any other NCAA program. Students are asked to finance this spending to a greater level than any other students, because athletics lose a huge amount of $$ at RU (>$25 million/year by last count). Additionally, the academic departments are asked to tighten their belts, photocopy less, not hire new faculty, and forego any thought of raises. To help close the gap, RU has changed conferences again – this time going off to the Big Ten. How does this help the professors teach and the students learn?

Does this sound like higher ed?

In response to this, the RU faculty recently voted 174-3 to cut university subsidies to athletics. Indeed, there have long been movements at RU that aim to remove RU from D1 athletics, claiming that the move to the “big time” has and continues to damage a centuries-old academic reputation.

I love sports, but I love learning more. I sincerely hope that RU figures out what they are good at and turn their attentions, and $$ to that focus. Until they start paying attention to academics and stop treating the university like a professional sports team, I will not be contributing $$, time, or energy to my alma mater. The school I attended no longer exists.

Published by Andrew Lyon

Founding Dean, Fowler School of Engineering @ Chapman University. Formerly Dean of the Schmid College of Science and Technology @ Chapman.

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