Rutgers Board of Governors votes to invest $17 million in New Brunswick Performing Arts Center
Rutgers pays for co-ownership of new cultural center
On Thursday, the Rutgers Board of Governors unanimously voted to invest $17 million in the creation of the new performing arts center in downtown New Brunswick.
The partial ownership will allow for the Mason Gross School of the Arts to expand its curriculum by forming a brand new musical theater program. It will also help strengthen the ties between Rutgers and the surrounding community, according to a University press release.
“This is a tremendous collaboration between Rutgers University—New Brunswick and our home city,” said Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards. “Our talented Mason Gross students will be able to perform in a state-of-the-art venue that will draw a wider audience from throughout New Jersey.”
Construction for the project will begin in August and, once finished, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center will occupy a total of 450,000 square feet. This includes a rehearsal space, office space, performance space, residential tower and structured parking.
Rutgers will share ownership of the facility with the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), the George Street Playhouse, the New Brunswick Cultural Center and the American Repertory Ballet. These organizations will have joint responsibility for the scheduling, management and operation of the space, according to the resolution.
“This arts campus will serve as a rich haven of creation and culture, allowing for our partner agencies to grow their programs and performances and reach wider audiences than ever before,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “Our collaboration with the University community brings an exciting element to this plan and strengthens our melding of public and private collaboration to yield a modern and sensational product.”
Of the University’s contribution, $10 million will come from Mason Gross fundraising and the remaining $7 million will be taken from University reserves and short-term borrowing, said Antonio Calcado, the executive vice president for strategic planning and operations.
According to the project summary, the redevelopment will cost a total of $215 million and will be one of the most significant urban initiatives in the state of New Jersey.
The initiative is expected to increase the number of people who attend the performing arts center by nearly 25 percent, said Christopher Paladino, the president of DEVCO.
“This makes a very important statement,” Paladino said. “The University and the city and the other cultural assets of New Brunswick are truly partners.”
Board votes to begin construction on new athletic center
At the meeting, the Board of Governors also approved the construction of a multisport training and practice facility for Rutgers athletes, according to a press release.
The four-story facility will be built on Livingston campus and will replace the outdated facilities with new practice rooms and locker rooms, according to the press release. It will also provide strength training and conditioning facilities for men's and women's basketball, gymnastics and wrestling programs.
Construction is slated to begin this spring, adjacent to the Rutgers Athletic Center and across from the Rutgers Business School.
“The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center will make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and the competitiveness of our programs,” said Pat Hobbs, director of the Athletics Department for Rutgers.
The building will also include a space for nutrition counseling, coaches’ offices, a Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame, a space for student athletes to eat and a spirit shop.
The projected cost of the project is $115 million, and the University will go out to bond for $26 million to pay for a 555-space parking garage that will eventually be paid for by event parking fees, according to the release.
The rest of the project is expected to be paid by using funds raised through the R Big Ten Build campaign and tax credits from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program, according to the release.
The naming of the facility was approved in November 2016, at the same time that Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health announced a partnership to create a comprehensive sports medicine program, according to the release. The partnership will make RWJBarnabas Health the exclusive health care provider for Rutgers Athletics.
“When completed, the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center will serve our Big Ten athletes, benefit the wider New Jersey community through sports medicine research and provide parking in what will be a vibrant corner of the Livingston campus,” Calcado said.
Rutgers creates unified School of Graduate Studies
At the meeting, the University voted to create a merger between two of its graduate schools, which will become effective on July 1.
Once implemented, the Graduate School—New Brunswick and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will be combined into the School of Graduate Studies. The new school will serve 5,100 students and will include 2,659 faculty members, according to a University press release.
Jerome Kukor, the current dean of the Graduate School—New Brunswick, said the merger will increase the efficiency of the University and create a structure that mirrors those that exist at other Big Ten universities.
"There are great advantages to becoming one graduate school for the students and faculty," Kukor said. "A comprehensive, integrated graduate school can bring together scholars from all disciplines and create an environment where we learn what is best for our students as they move forward and plan for their future careers."
Kira Herzog is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.
Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum