April 18, 2019 | 60° F

Dutta takes Dance Marathon, more at this week's RUSA meeting

Photo by Brittany Gibson |

During last night’s Town Hall meeting, University Chancellor Debasish Dutta discussed the current state of affairs at Rutgers—New Brunswick and his plan to engage with the University’s expansive alumni circle.

Chancellor Debasish Dutta made his first town hall appearance at the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) yesterday, where he held a town hall describing the current state of affairs at the University and took question from students.

President Evan Covello of RUSA introduced the chancellor as a Big Ten veteran, whose charm and personality is well known by the student bodies of his previous universities. Dutta has already been to many Rutgers events, like the Big Chill, and has engaged in the community since the start of the year.

Dutta began by describing his life in academia. He graduated from Purdue University with a doctorate in Industrial Engineering and moved to the University of Michigan where he stayed for 20 years. He then moved to the University of Illinois and then Purdue, where he served in administrative positions.

He brings 30 years worth of Big Ten experience, has been at three Big Ten schools and said that Rutgers is an excellent and growing institution that truly reaches the standards and expectations of this conference. He said the University is ready to fully assimilate into the Big Ten and that all the structures and programs for the move are in order.

“In terms of academics, libraries, information and technology, the deans, the department heads, we are fully integrated,” Dutta said.

An important area of interest for the chancellor is the relationship with the school's alumni. Dutta said that though there are more than 500,000 Rutgers alumni, there is not enough contact with these graduates. He hopes to better engage with this demographic to both increase Rutgers' reputation and the support it gets from its former students.

“We have not done a good job engaging our alumni, keeping them engaged with our institution and learning from them what the real world needs from graduates, so we are far behind,” Dutta said. 

Some of the chancellor’s primary interests are engineering and computer science. Dutta said that he would love to see a great increase in faculty size in these areas as they are vital in providing appropriate education in the modern world. Expanding these academic areas would provide future Rutgers students more access to education that is in high demand in today's work environment. 

“If you look at the market demand and where it is, it makes sense to look into these,” Dutta said. “In certain areas there are more jobs than we produce graduates. Those are the areas that we need to expand."

Dutta joined Rutgers in the summer of 2017, officially becoming chancellor of Rutgers—New Brunswick on July 1. He succeeded former Chancellor Richard L. Edwards, who served as chancellor from 2014 to 2017 and will be overseeing Rutgers’ final transition into the Big Ten. He has already helped guide the University through several developments, such as the pending DACA decision, the Obama-era sexual campus assault policy, the racial violence in Charlottesville, the appointing of a new vice chancellor of Research and Innovation and the largest art gift in Rutgers’ history.

After his presentation, Dutta took questions from the crowd and elaborated on many different topics, such as free textbooks, the Big Ten, an increased student wage, the Honors College and the core curriculum. For the third-consecutive RUSA meeting, students brought up questions about what resources are being made available to Rutgers student parents, and the chancellor promised to meet with representatives of this group should they desire.

Students can catch the chancellor at next Wednesday's “State of Rutgers Address” where he will remark on the University’s accomplishments and its path forward, as well as his experience at Rutgers so far. Dutta will also be present at Dance Marathon in April.

Meal Swipe for Charity was also mentioned at the event. This program allows students to donate unused guest swipes to a charitable organization. RUSA oversees the program and selects one Rutgers student charitable group per semester to be eligible to receive swipe donations. The chosen organization will be able to get a table in Rutgers’ dining halls where it can ask students to donate their guest swipes. This semester’s organization will be chosen at next week’s Assembly meeting on March 1.

Andrew Petryna

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