Vote YES on State Question #1 to Fund New & Improved Classrooms at Rutgers

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Political figures, the Rutgers administration, and students leaders are in agreement about one thing this election: New Jersey voters should support increased investment in our public colleges by voting "Yes" on State Public Question #1 today.

New Brunswick Today is proud to join them with our wholehearted endorsement of the ballot question, an initiative sure to benefit the larger cause of education as well as the local economy in New Brunswick.

Last month, the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers conduted a statewide telephone poll on the ballot question, which found that 62% of voters support the initiative.

"New Jersey is one of the few states that do not fund capital in a regular way… We simply cannot maintain our buildings in the way we should without the state," said Rutgers Vice President for University Budgeting Nancy Winterbauer.

For this reason, colleges across New Jersey have neglected to maintain classrooms and improve academic spaces over the past several years.  Many Rutgers students who had not yet been born the last time NJ voters approved a similar higher education bond referendum would benefit greatly from its passage.

More importantly, their siblings and children will greatly benefit from the investment, which will ensure New Jersey public colleges keep up with their national counterparts..

As classrooms and laboratories became outdated and rundown, Rutgers has invested in dormitories, dining facilities, and an expensive expansion to the football stadium, each accompanied by a built-in revenue stream to eventually pay down the costs of construction.

Maggie Moran, the campaign manager for the Building Our Future campaign in support of the question said that her organization had little opposition and had secured the support of nearly every major newspaper's editorial board in the state.

"The only paper we're worried about right now is the Asbury Park Press," said Moran, at a campaign event at Rutgers.

The APP endorsed the "yes" vote last week , calling it "absolutely essential as an investment in both institutions and people."

According to moran, only two groups oppose the question: Liberty & Prosperity, and Prosperity for NJ.  Neither has mounted a serious effort to defeat it.

Moran said, "The opposition says it's a worthwhile investment but it's not the right time."

But she was confidentthat  the strategy she embarked upon would prevail.  She said 209 different organizations had endorsed the "yes" vote on the question, "the largest, most endorsesd campaign in the history of New Jersey."

Rutgers Vice President for Public Affairs Peter McDonough said the bond referndum could save the University over $130 million over the next 30 years by easing borrowing costs.

"Wer're really positioned to pull down a lot of this money, more than anybody else," he said.

Both Winterbauer and McDonough said the ballot initiative is not attached to any specific building projects.  Rather, they each pointed to the "wish list" recently submitted by the state's public colleges and universities as a template for future capital projects..

"I think they [NJ legislature] didn't want a distraction in terms of people fighting over which projects to fund when they're trying to get people to vote the referendum," Winterbauer said.

If the wish list is any indication which projects will be pursued by Rutgers, a great many new developments in New Brunswick could come from the passage of the referendum.

While we cannot be exactly certain of how the funds will be spent, the way the law is worded means that the spending will be undoubtedly good for New Jersey, as well as for New Brunswick.

Solid bi-partisan support from Republican Governor Chris Christie, Democratic leadership in the state legislature, as well as the Rutgers University administration, and student leaders in New Brunswick further re-enforces our commitment to supporting the "YES" vote on this critically important referendum.

Below are the capital priorities of Rutgers University, as enumerated in the November 2011 "wish list."  Full details are shown only for New Brunswick projects.  For the full document, please click here.

Priority 1: Chemistry and Chemical Biology Building (Piscataway)

Priority 2: Rutgers-Cooper-Rowan Integrative Biology and Genomic Medicine Center (Camden)

Priority 3: New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (New Brunswick)
Size: 85,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $51,000,000
Project type: New construction
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: January 2013
Project Description: The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health will be a four-story building with wet and dry labs, shared instrumentation space, computing facilities, faculty and administrative offices, smart lecture halls and classrooms, and flexible spaces to accommodate the changing needs of the Institute

Priority 4: Dana Library (Newark)

Priority 5: Science Building Extension (Camden)

Priority 6: Sustainable Systems Engineering Building (Piscataway)

Priority 7: Arts and Sciences Building (New Brunswick)
Size: 180,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $108,000,000
Project type: New construction
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: This project will construct a new teaching, academic, and student service facility on Rutgers historic College Avenue campus. It will provide much-needed classroom space to help alleviate severe overcrowding and bring state-of-the-art teaching facilities to campus.

Priority 8: School of Pharmacy (Piscataway)

Priority 9: Graduate School of Education Building (Piscataway)

Priority 10: Rutgers Business School (Newark)

Priority 11: Mason Gross School of the Arts (New Brunswick)
Size: 7,500 GSF
Est. Cost: $3,000,000
Project type: Renovation
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: Complete renovation of the existing Corwin Lodge Building, expanding the present dance studio and adding a second studio of equal size on a second level. Also planned is the creation of a new computer lab and classroom as well. Admissions to the dance program have doubled in the past five years, reflecting a growing interest in dance nationwide, with a proliferation of dance companies, studios, and fitness facilities devoted to or featuring elements of dance.

Priority 12: Library of Science and Medicine (Piscataway)

Priority 13: School of Business (Camden)

Priority 14: Olson Hall Chemistry (Newark)

Priority 15: School of Communication & Information – West End Project (New Brunswick)
Size: 86,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $75,000,000
Project type: New construction
Project nature: Instruction/research/academic support services
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: A new building will form the University hub for academic activities concentrating on communication and information, serving as the home to the School of Communication & Information, plus communication and information activities central to the University. The building will include large and small classrooms, collaborative spaces, laboratory spaces for computing, digital video/audio reduction, and research, broadcasting facilities of WRSU, the RU-TV Network, Campus Information Services, the Edison Papers Project, faculty/staff offices, advising and meeting rooms.

Priority 16: New Jersey Coastal Resource Center (North Brunswick, Bivalve, Tuckerton)

Priority 17: School of Arts and Sciences (Camden)

Priority 18: Rutgers Gardens (North Brunswick)

Priority 19: Lindley G. Cook 4-H Youth Center Project (Branchville)

Priority 20: School of Social Work (Piscataway)

Priority 21: School of Nursing (Camden)

Priority 22: Waksman Institute of Microbiology (Piscataway)

Priority 23: Office of Undergraduate Education (New Brunswick)
Size: 103,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $51,000,000
Project type: Renovation/new construction
Project nature: Instruction
Planning Status: Planning and design not yet begun
Project Description: Expanding classroom space in New Brunswick is a priority. To alleviate overcrowding, we need to create various new spaces for student learning. We are proposing two new rooms with 500-seat capacity as well as a 1000-person capacity auditorium; 20 small rooms with a capacity of 30 to accommodate the rising number of recitations, seminars, etc.; and four rooms with a capacity of 120 to accommodate larger classes stemming from growing enrollments. Installing technology to create “smart classrooms” in these spaces would be essential.

Priority 24: School of Management and Labor Relations (Piscataway)

Priority 25: Mason Gross School of the Arts (New Brunswick)
Size: 10,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $7,000,000
Project nature: Instruction/research
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: Complete interior renovation of the existing Little Theater, which is presently gutted and being used as a “block-out space” for rehearsing productions. The interior of the Little Theater would be rebuilt to return it to its original state as a functioning theater. The facility will be transformed into a modern, black-box theater, a stripped-down, workaday performance space featuring black walls and a flat floor. The building would accommodate the long-running Jameson Project’s experimental student productions, now staged in a space that presents safety and health issues when it floods each spring.

Priority 26: Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (Piscataway)

Priority 27: Central New Jersey Wellness Center (Piscataway)

Priority 28: Life Sciences Building, School of Arts and Sciences (Newark)

Priority 29: Green Computing Cluster (Piscataway)

Priority 30: Boyden Hall Biology Labs (Newark)

Priority 31: Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (Piscataway)

Priority 32: Institute for Women’s Leadership (New Brunswick)
Est. square footage: 20,600 GSF
Est. Cost: $14,000,000
Project type: New construction
Project Description: This project will support the expansion of Rutgers’ facilities for several of the nation’s most notable centers for the advancement of women and women’s leadership. The new building will expand the Institute’s capacity for leadership education and research and its capacity to conduct programs to prepare students and women in business, government, and community organizations for success in the workplace and public life.

Priority 33: New Theater for Opera, Dance, and Music Theater (New Brunswick)
Size: 30,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $15,000,000
Project type: New construction
Project nature: Instruction
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: January 2014
Project Description: Construction of a new, 450-seat theater with orchestra pit, fly tower, and wing space. The building is Phase 2 of the present Performing Arts Building project.

Priority 34: Ruth Adams Building (New Brunswick)
Size: 27,210 GSF
Est. Cost: $13,000,000
Project type: Major renovation
Project nature: Instruction
Planning Status: Planning and design anticipated to begin Spring 2012
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: The Ruth Adams Building on the Douglass Campus, which houses four School of the Arts and Sciences departments, needs renovation and reconstruction. It is decrepit and the object of expensive repairs annually. Particular issues have been the roof and basement, which leak badly in even moderate rain. The building should be gutted/ torn down with new space for “smart” classrooms, a lecture hall, and faculty offices.

Priority 35: Ford Hall (New Brunswick)
Size: 19,694 GSF
Est. Cost: $8,000,000
Project type: Major renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Planning Status: Planning and design anticipated to begin Spring 2012
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: This now vacant dormitory building on College Avenue adjoins the buildings on Voorhees Mall that house the main humanities departments of School of the Arts and Sciences. The “bones” of the building are good, but it would have to be gutted and renovated completely to adapt it as a classroom building. The location is a prime opportunity for the location of SAS Departments now housed in disparate locations along College Avenue.

Priority 36: International and Global Studies (New Brunswick)
Size: 14,545 GSF
Est. Cost: $10,000,000
Project type: renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Planning Status: Planning and design in progress
Construction Start: July 2013
Project Description: The need for a presence for International Global Studies in a centralized location is consistent with the global emphasis that this—and all—universities have adopted. This project will renovate former Douglass dormitory units to house a number of academic programs and centers related to international studies.

Priority 37: School of Arts and Sciences and Environmental and Biological Sciences Building (New Brunswick)
Est. square footage: 110,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $53,000,000
Project type: New construction and renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Project Description: This proposal addresses the critical need to provide classroom and studio space and additional faculty offices on the Douglass and Cook campuses to support the academic missions of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Environmental and Biological Sciences as well as the Mason Gross School of the Arts and the Douglass Residential College. Also provided in the proposed new construction is modern studio and supporting space for the department of Landscape Architecture. A new classroom and studio building, perhaps containing on its first floor a modern bookstore and food retail outlets, is proposed for a site on Nichol Avenue ($40 million). Also proposed are renovations of two existing buildings on the Cook Campus for classroom and laboratory use ($13 million).

Priority 38: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Extension (Centerton, Cream Ridge, Adelphia, North Brunswick, Chatsworth, Pittstown, Columbus)

Priority 39: The Kilmer Library (Piscataway)

Priority 40: Mabel Smith Douglass Library (New Brunswick)
Size: 21,191 GSF
Est. Cost: $2,500,000
Project type: Renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Project Description: Complete the renovation of the Douglass Library as envisioned in the Task Force Report, The Douglass Library for the 21st Century. Rearrange the collections to create a performing arts library within Douglass; create an information technology instructional lab; add graduate student carrels and additional seating in open study space; and paint and replace carpeting in remaining sections of the building.

Priority 41: Art Library (New Brunswick)
Size: 2,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $800,000
Project type: Renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Project Description: Construct an information technology lab, smart classroom seminar room, and group study rooms; install compact shelving to free space for additional seating; update furniture with more comfortable seating and additional computer workstations.

Priority 42: Alexander Library: Learning and Research Commons (New Brunswick)
Size: 5,175 GSF
Est. Cost: $2,300,000
Project type: Renovation
Project nature: Instruction/research
Project Description: The Alexander Library is the flagship library of the Rutgers University Library system and the main research library in the humanities and social sciences. It is also the most heavily used library in the system. This proposed technology-rich environment should have flexible furniture for the students to create study groups that meet their needs. The room should have interesting furniture and lighting as well as whiteboard walls, moveable white boards, moveable walls, and zones where they can practice giving presentations using the latest technology. It should also have a section of carrels which are extra wide with computers so that students can use their laptops and the library computers at the same time, along with books and other tools. In order to create this Research and Learning Commons, we would need to purchase compact shelving for the bound periodicals in order to empty an existing space.

Priority 43: Paul Robeson Library (Camden)

Priority 44: Zimmerli Museum (New Brunswick)
Size: 70,000 GSF
Est. Cost: $18,200,000
Project type: New construction/renovation/reconstruction
Project nature: Instruction/research
Planning Status: Planning in progress
Project Description: The Master Plan for the Zimmerli Museum is designed to reinforce the Zimmerli’s educational and research role for both the university community and the public and to advance the Zimmerli’s quest for accreditation from the American Association of Museums. The plan addresses such vital needs as: the need for spaces for classes and the proper care of our valuable collection of works on paper; replacement of the Zimmerli’s roof; the modernization of its security, telephone, and IT systems; compliance with state and federal codes; re-purposing existing space to create more effective space for classrooms and seminar space; providing greater access to artworks by students, faculty, and scholars; and accommodating the preservation of works of art in the Zimmerli’s trust.

Priority 45: Brain Health Institute (Piscataway)

 

Charlie is a community organizer, a Rutgers journalism graduate, and a 2018 independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.

He can be reached at (732) 993-9697 or [email protected]