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Rutgers Administration Holds Public Meeting on Strategic Plan

46-Page Draft Plan Released, Deadline For Public Input Extended to October 1
Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— A public discussion on the Rutgers-New Brunswick "strategic plan" will be held tonight from 5-7pm in the Rutgers Student Center Multipurpose Room at 126 College Avenue.

Chancellor of the New Brunswick campus Richard Edwards sent out a University-wide email containing a draft of the Rutgers strategic plan, and announced that the deadline for public input had been extended.

"After consultation with President [Robert] Barchi, I am extending the strategic plan review period until Wednesday, October 1," Edwards wrote.  The deadline was originally September 15

The draft plan contains a number of charts, proposals, graphs and documents, all of which were the result of several months and planning by focus groups within the University. 

"I invite all members of the community to review the current version of the strategic plan," Dr. Edwards wrote. 

In addition, the email touted a list of schools within the Big Ten and the Association of American Universities. The latter was further broken down to include a list of "AAU Public Aspirants," of which there were nine:

  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of California-San Diego
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Virginia-Main Campus
  • University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison  

The strategic plan draft was broken down into several smaller chapters, which in turn identify goals and intiatives to reach them.

One such goal was titled "Sustaining and Exploring the Raritan River". The document highlights a program run by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, known as the "Sustainable Raritan River Initiative". 

The collaborative includes a number of institutes, deparmtments and offices within Rutgers, as well as private businesses, and local, state and federal government entities. 

In the strategic plan, it is suggested that the Bloustein School, along with Rutgers Athletics and Rutgers Recreation, would help to oversee this continued project.  The Rutgers crew team uses the river for its practices and competitions.

In 1989, the Edison Wetlands Association (EWA) launched the Raritan River Project. 

According to the EWA, there are currently 25,000 contimanted sites along the Raritan River.

Rutgers officials had also listed the "Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems" as another area of improvement in the strategic plan. 

Unmanned aircraft systems, also known as "drones," are being tested in a joint venture between Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and the University of Maryland-College Park.

Plans for this testing were annouced by the Federal Aviation Administration in December 2013, as we reported.

They were part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, passed by Congress in February of that year.  Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration to select six locations that would be used as test sites for unmanned aircraft systems. 

The draft strategic plan had also called for greater security with the off-campus student population living in New Brunswick, titling this section "Off-Campus and Community Relations."

After the murder of former Rutgers student William McCaw in February 2014, critics of the University public safety system pointed out that the Rutgers University Police Department did not provide a crime alert in light of the discovery of McCaw's body, and did not acknowledge his death for weeks after.

As a result of public pressure, the Rutgers University Police Department began issing crime alerts for all "serious" crimes that occur in the Fifth and Sixth Wards of New Brunswick, and also began participating in joint patrols with the New Brunswick Police Department.

For the first time, Rutgers University chipped in $130,000 to fund the joint patrols this month.

The growing grassroots effort to make the off-campus neighborhoods safer for students has been dubbed the "Scarlet Zones" initiative, and includes student organizations such as the Rutgers University Student Assembly, the Off Campus Student Asssociation, and the Inter-Fraternity Council.