I attended the Rutgers Alumni Association’s Board of Directors meeting last night, which truly wasn’t as boring as it sounds when you read it. While most of the event consisted of idle chitchat with other alums and a seemingly unending supply of committee reports, two nuggets stood out.
First (and I will get her name and title wrong), Karen Kavanaugh, Vice President of Business Services, presented to us on a set of development plans currently in the works for the University. In New Brunswick, plans are on the drawing board to replace the current space across from the Eason Ave apartments where New Jersey books is with a thirty story mixed-use (i.e. residential and commercial) building, in which Rutgers would locate a visitor’s center, the Rutgers Club, and the University Press. In an initial phase, College Ave would be “greened up”, in part by closing the section of the street in front of Brower and the student center and turning it in to an open plaza. In later phases, the current lot across from Scott Hall would be developed in to new academic facilities, Brower Commons would become the host of all the various student services offices, Records Hall would be replaced with a bus turnabout, the river dorms would be upgraded and a new dining hall would be constructed where the Student Activities Center is currently located.
On Livingston, plans are in the process of being developed to implement a “College Town” setup. The space that is currently part field, part parking lot across from the Livingston Student center would be replaced with a commercial/residential center. There would be some market-rate housing made available, some affordable-rate housing, and some student apartment housing. The plan would also create a commercial “main street” setup with stores, shops, and restaurants on a main street with several plazas as well.
In addition, the next phase of the Route 18 construction will begin in the second half of the year. Once it completes, toward the end of this decade, Route 18 will consist of two express lanes and two local lanes in each direction from almost the Raritan River through the Route 1 interchange.
The second noteworthy presentation regarded the undergraduate college system in New Brunswick. Given that the faculty have long since been reorganized in to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, leaving the current colleges primarily serving a residential function, there is a plan in the comment phase to reorganize them in to a single entity. Students would still choose a living campus to affiliate with, each with their own culture and traditions much as they exist today. However, all the undergraduates attending liberal arts colleges in the New Brunswick/Piscataway area would attend the same undergraduate college of the arts and sciences.
With all the changes being discussed, there was quite a lively debate. Our usual, quiet BoD meeting was anything but, although I have to admit I look forward to most of the changes being implemented.