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Rutgers outlines new five-year plan to become a top school nationwide

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Rutgers has drafted a five-year strategic plan to add professors and bring its athletic programs
Rutgers has drafted a five-year strategic plan to add professors and bring its athletic programs "toward financial independence."

Rutgers University's Board of Governors on Tuesday approved a long-awaited five-year plan aimed at making it one of the country's top public academic institutions.

Following more than a year of major changes — including a new president, a historic reorganization of New Jersey's higher education system and its entrance to the Big Ten conference — the blueprint aims to set the direction for "virtually all aspects" of the university, according to a news release. That includes everything from faculty and student experience to infrastructure improvements and more aggressive alumni fundraising.

The specific goals include appointing 150 new faculty members over the next five years, strengthening and reviewing graduate programs and expanding its honors colleges in its Camden, Newark and New Brunswick campuses. It also cites a multiyear plan to move its athletics programs "toward financial independence" from the rest of the university.

The blueprint also places an emphasis on improving cooperation with the business community and enhancing corporate partnerships, though it doesn't offer specifics.

The 59-page framework, Rutgers' first strategic plan since 1995, was unveiled by President Robert Barchi, who took over the job in 2012 to great fanfare and high expectations.

"In an era of fiscal constraint and increased demand on higher education, this strategic plan will enable Rutgers to set the right priorities and leverage our resources most effectively," Gerald C. Harvey, chair of the Board of Governors, said in a prepared statement.

The plan follows several milestones for Rutgers since Barchi took over. Last summer, it was integrated with most of the schools from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a move that raised its national profile from a research standpoint.

Rutgers last year also joined the Big Ten and its academic counterpart, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

"Rutgers is at a unique moment in time," Barchi said in a prepared statement. "This strategic plan will enable us to capitalize on this moment and achieve our ultimate goal — to be broadly recognized as one of the nation's leading public universities."

Barchi is expected to unveil several "priority initiatives" to start implementing key elements of the plan, the news release said.

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