Rutgers Trustees and Faculty Provide Academic Blueprint Updates at Second Town Hall Event

Rutgers — New Brunswick administrators and faculty gathered virtually on Tuesday to participate in the University’s second town hall to further discuss the future of the Academic Master Plan (PAM-NB).

This event occurs after the first town hall, held on October 28, and mainly focused on the steering committee’s project progress and updates, which mainly covered emerging themes, goals and actions related to the plan.

“The ultimate goal is to develop an academic blueprint that positions Rutgers University — New Brunswick for success,” said Salvador B. Mena, Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs. “(Through) the planning process, we will create a strategy that prioritizes academic excellence.”

He began by reiterating the three main elements of the plan: the academic vision statement, how the campus community will work together, and what the community will do to achieve the goals of the statement.

Mena said that the first strand will aim to identify the academic priorities of the University, the second will focus on deciding as a community in which specific academic programs should be developed and invested in and the third will be the actual actions of progress and development. ‘engagement with the university community.

Wade Trappe, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said one of the main goals of the group working on the first component so far has been to try to collect data from the community at large to understand the different perspectives.

He said his group tried to create a process by which they can take the collected data and input to discern what goals, strengths and weaknesses the community found and to understand why they got there.

“While every strength and weakness is important for us to understand, some of them will be more important than others,” Trappe said. “And in particular, we in Group One are trying to digest and understand what the real differentiators will be for Rutgers going forward.”

Laura Lawson, dean of academic programs at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, said common themes of areas to focus on were highlighted after observing focus group comments describing some strengths and weaknesses.

“We see great opportunities for interdisciplinary discourse, engagement and collaboration,” she said. “We need to tell a much better story about our use of location and how it makes us unique and how it really allows us to have special opportunities for our students and for our researchers.”

Lawson said other emerging improvement themes discussed in the comments included internships, co-ops, and experiential education, as well as rankings of programs where improvement could include strengthening STEM at Rutgers. and the use of the physical space of the University in the best possible way.

“We need to develop a physical master plan for Rutgers — New Brunswick that aligns with the academic master plan,” she said. “Our physical spaces are showing signs of deferred maintenance, our laboratories and classrooms cannot compete with other schools. And we must reinvest in the direction of the development of our academic excellence. “

Denise Hien, associate dean of academic affairs and professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, said that in her group, which is leading the innovative and inclusive research component of the project, they must agree to include the concept of inclusiveness as a theme when thinking of research and scholarship.

“Some emerging themes that you will hear, I think, are not only reflected in our working group, but among the three components there is only one, the importance of considering community or engaged scholarship. publicly, ”she said. “The second is the importance of considering and promoting interdisciplinarity. And the third is how to maintain the forces that we already have here? And that would enable things like infrastructure to be exploited.

Regarding how the NB-AMP can be used to distinguish Rutgers among his peers, Trappe said that the process of creating the plan itself has enabled them to recognize the positive qualities of the University and its advantages of ‘be located in New Jersey.

He said that in the future, the University will try to better take advantage of being between two large metropolitan areas to provide students with access to the best possible experiences in all types of industries in the region.

“I think what’s going to come out of all of this is that we’re really going to focus on how we can leverage what makes us really unique,” ​​said Trappe. “And frankly, you’re not going to find this little global microcosm, if you will – you’re not going to find it in much of the rest of the Big Ten (conference), for example. “

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