August 20, 2018 | ° F

Richard Edwards talks safety, athletic budget

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Before becoming the chancellor of Rutgers—New Brunswick, Richard L. Edwards was dean of the School of Social Work. 

Interim Chancellor for Rutgers-New Brunswick Richard Edwards accosted The Division of Administration and Public Safety for their treatment of William McCaw’s murder that occurred on Feb. 15.

Edwards, also executive vice president for Academic Affairs, spoke at the Rutgers University Student Assembly meeting held last night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.

Edwards said someone at the University had decided the recent crime did not fall under the Clery Report standards for issuing an alert, but he disagreed with that decision.

He pointed out Rutgers officials had attended memorial services and had offered counseling assistance to students.

“It’s a very touchy issue ... but it appears pretty clear that this was not a random act,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that other people are at risk for this situation.”

He said New Brunswick had limited traffic regulation off campus, but the Rutgers University Police Department did have jurisdiction in the city and were capable of making arrests.

Edwards also defended Rutgers Athletics at the meeting.

He said the athletic budget had recently seen a huge increase, but called the major costs one-time expenses, such as leaving the AAC and paying off Mike Rice and Tim Pernetti.

“We made a cold business decision to do those things,” he said.

The University has projected that over the next 12 years, the increased revenue from the Big Ten would reach $200 million. Making the move cost $11 million, which gave Rutgers a 95 percent return on investment.

Rutgers would not get a full share of revenue from the Big Ten for six years, but the Athletic Department would eventually be able to become independently financed.

He said increased athletic revenue would not lower tuition, but it would allow Rutgers to allocate more funds to academic departments and some scholarships.

“We’ve had an athletic department that’s been in deficit for a long time ... if we’re going to have athletics, we should look at … [getting out of] out of a proposition that’s losing money every year,” he said.

The Strategic Plan is in the process of negotiation, he said. University President Robert L. Barchi has also announced a 100-day plan that will closely involve Edwards’ work. He aims to reorganize the academic structure of the University and take a closer look at the use of technology in the classroom.

Rutgers would like to use more blended classes, which combine online with a traditional classroom setting, he said. Blended classes have tested better than both online and traditional classes.

The University will offer Henry Rutgers University Professor titles and awards to graduate students intended to keep top performers in the state. It also plans to begin awarding undergraduate scholarships in sync with the construction of the new Honors College.

All of the Honors College students would go through the main honors college for the first year, then divide into their individual schools, he said.

Rutgers-New Brunswick has never had a specialized chancellor before.

“In my role as executive vice president, I always have to be careful to not look like something’s not favoring New Brunswick over Newark and Camden campuses,” he said. “But in my role as chancellor of this campus, I don’t have to be careful at all.”

He and Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, were planning to get input on the Strategic Plan to enhance the student experience.

“We’ve taken all of the themes and pillars and assigned committees to each of them,” he said. “They would focus on issues that affect more than one school or department to preserve Rutgers’ scarce resources.”

Although Rutgers would always depend on the state, he predicted more profitable private-public partnerships. Gov. Chris Christie’s budget only held the funding for Rutgers level, ignoring the increased cost of living.

Currently, 55 percent of student tuition goes directly to departments while the rest goes to the general Rutgers fund. The University plans to experiment with a different budget model that would give most of student tuition directly to individual departments, he said.

Under the plan, called responsibility-sponsored management, students would be able to see exactly what department funds are going to, he said.

Sherif Ibrahim, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said New Jersey had a large problem with students leaving to go to college.

Edwards is concerned that community college students cannot tell which transfer credits would go toward their Rutgers degree.

“I’ve railed against it, but so far nothing has happened,” he said.

Pavel Sokolov, president of RUSA, said Edwards’ background in social work made him an appealing administrator.

Edwards has worked in universities for 40 years and served as interim chancellor and dean of the School of Social Work, said Sokolov, a Rutgers Business School senior.

RUSA also honored Arthur Casciato, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, with a plaque and a speech from Ibrahim, a Fulbright scholar.

“It doesn’t just benefit the individual Rutgers students. … It benefits the way we look at awards,” Ibrahim said.

A previous version of this article misquoted Ibrahim, therefore implying that the Office of Distinguished Fellowships does not benefit students.

By Erin Petenko

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