Rutgers University's move to the Big Ten Conference next year is primarily thought of as a sports story, part of the ongoing saga on conference realignment within the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
However Rutgers sees the move not just as a chance to play in a bigger league athletically but academically.
That's because with Big Ten membership comes membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an academic consortium that leverages the combined research power of the conference's member institutions.
"The CIC does a lot of inter-university research, has buying power, has system sharing in the computational area, and has a variety of different collaborations that will facilitate our research in the biomedical area and a variety of other areas," said Christopher J. Molloy, interim provost for biomedical and health sciences at Rutgers.
The consortium is made up of the Big Ten schools, along with the University of Chicago, which was a Big Ten member until 1946 and was offered a spot in the CIC when the committee was created in 1958.
Kenneth J. Breslauer, vice president for health science partnerships at Rutgers, said the CIC is the preeminent association of its kind, in part because its membership historically has been made up entirely of schools that are also members of the elite Association of American Universities, a group of major public and private research universities. Rutgers is one of 62 schools in the AAU. The only Big Ten/CIC member not in the AAU is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which lost its AAU membership in 2011.
Breslauer said CIC membership gives Rutgers a ticket to participate in important collaborations.
"Big science is done across universities not just across disciplines," Breslauer said. "And when you package the science at those universities together, they get these big science grants. And we are going to be part of those, because we bring real strength in mathematical, physical as well as biological sciences."
Breslauer said the association also means new international exchange programs for Rutgers students.
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