Rutgers University's new president said he didn't want to make political statements in his first appearance as the school's new leader, but when Dr. Robert L. Barchi told the crowd gathered to hear the announcement that Rutgers meant New Brunswick, Newark and Camden, he received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
"Three campuses all contribute to what makes this institution great — the undergraduate experiences in Newark and Camden are not necessarily synonymous with New Brunswick, but yet give their own value and their own set of perspectives to what we have to offer," Barchi said. "We have to be very clear about resourcing those parts of our organization, and the governance they are entitled to as we move forward."
Ralph Izzo, chairman of the university's board of governors and CEO of PSEG, said Barchi would be installed as president Sept. 1, after the dust settles on the proposed higher education merger that would send Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to Rutgers' New Brunswick campus and deliver Rutgers-Camden to Rowan University.
The 65-year-old Barchi, currently in his eighth year as president of Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, was approved unanimously this morning by the boards of governors and trustees for Rutgers. He previously served as professor and provost at University of Pennsylvania, where he received his M.D. and Ph.D., and also is a clinical neurologist with nationally recognized published research.
"We were looking for depth of experience, accomplishment, leadership," and the ability to "manage complexity and see change," said Greg Brown, chairman of the presidential search committee and CEO of Motorola Solutions. "Dr. Barchi's experience as sitting president — being a number two as number one, transforming the organization's he's been a part of — his record speaks for itself. He's a powerhouse."
Barchi said he wants to increase the notoriety of Rutgers' academic achievements, increase diversity "all the way up the ladder" and establish public-private partnerships to drive a new structure of higher education.
"We have an opportunity to grow at Rutgers that is totally unrelated to the political issues that are swirling around right now about who owns what where," he said.
Barchi spent most of his childhood in Westfield, and spent a year at a prep school in Newark before moving with his family to Trenton.
"Most people know New Jersey because they drive up the Turnpike — as quickly as they can," Barchi said. "Having grown up in that and experienced it all, it helps you to put that in perspective. ... Right now, I live within a mile of Camden, and much of the business my current institution interacts very strongly with South Jersey and Camden, and everything going on there. I am intimately familiar with that environment, and I think that is an aspect that will help very positively as I engage in this role here."
Rodney Morrison, associate chancellor for enrollment management at Rutgers-Camden, said he hopes Barchi's relationship with Camden will ease some of the concerns prospective students have about the future of the school.
"Having familiarity with the region, I think, is certainly a plus," Morrison said.