Members of the Rutgers Community:

With the spring semester under way, I want to provide an update on deliberations over the report of the Task Force on Undergraduate Education at Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway. As you know, the Task Force has made bold recommendations for enhancing the undergraduate experience and deepening faculty engagement in campus academic life by proposing the creation of a unified Rutgers College of Arts and Sciences, with unified admissions standards, a core curriculum, a single honors program, opportunities to join small learning communities, and common graduation requirements for all arts and sciences students on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus. The Task Force has also made recommendations regarding facilities improvements and the need to have classrooms and other public spaces that support learning and the student experience.

The report and its recommendations have been discussed by many groups in many venues. Open forums on every New Brunswick/Piscataway campus - as well as a Board of Trustees public hearing - have given faculty, students, staff, alumni, parents, and other interested people the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments. Executive Vice President Phil Furmanski, Task Force members, and I have also been meeting with student governing associations and with alumni leaders regarding the report. In addition, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the professional school faculties, the New Brunswick Faculty Council, and the Rutgers University Senate have been holding their own discussions of the report.

Through these many discussions, which have been exceedingly positive and constructive, Rutgers has been engaged in the most widespread deliberation on undergraduate education I have ever seen. Proposals regarding common admissions and graduation requirements have gained wide support. Many have endorsed the call for deeper connections between faculty and students. Faculty members have discussed a core curriculum and what that might look like both for arts and sciences students and for those in the professional schools, whose curricula are often tied to requirements set by their corresponding national accrediting organizations. The recommendations regarding structure and the future role of our colleges and campuses have generated wide debate, and strong and divergent opinions have been voiced about how best to provide educational opportunities for women in the 21st century. Several alternative models for addressing the goals of the Task Force have emerged and have been post
ed on the Task Force web site: http://ur.rutgers.edu/transform_ru/.

A number of resolutions and statements have been issued in response to the Task Force recommendations by bodies such as the New Brunswick Faculty Council, the Board of Trustees, various schools and colleges, and alumni and student governing associations. The University Senate is expected to issue its response later this month. These documents, along with the alternative models and the comments shared at the various meetings and campus forums and in writing, will be considered before I take recommendations to the Rutgers University Board of Governors, which has the authority to make the final decisions. I will, of course, share my recommendations with the university community prior to board action.

I am deeply grateful to all who have taken time to voice their opinions at meetings or in writing. Your viewpoints are welcome, and there is still time to send your comments via the Task Force website mentioned above. I am convinced that our conversations, and ultimately our decisions, will enable Rutgers to provide an undergraduate education that is truly worthy of a great research university.

Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey