President explains vision for U.
Students and faculty connect with President Robert L. Barchi at meet-and-greet breakfast
University President Robert L. Barchi said he believes in the University’s exemplary qualities, and he plans to expand its brand.
“We have this incredible University here with the world-class academics, world-class research, the best students around, the best faculty around, and nobody out there is aware of what we’re doing,” Barchi said Friday morning at a meet-and-greet breakfast event at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.
Barchi, who was named the University’s 20th president last April, said he is ready to take on the job entrusted to him.
“With this richness of history and so many talented people, it’s really daunting,” he said. “I’ve been in this business for 40 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like Rutgers.”
Joe Cashin, student representative to the Board of Governors, said he was very optimistic for the University’s future after hearing Barchi speak.
“I’m very excited for the Rutgers brand to grow beyond New Jersey,” said Cashin, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
Cashin said he was impressed by the event and the opportunity given to students and faculty to speak with Barchi in a one-on-one setting.
“I thought this event was a lot better than one big event where we wouldn’t get to talk to the president,” he said.
After a weekend of unpacking endless rows of boxes Barchi and his wife, Francis, settled into the president’s mansion.
“It’s not a public space, it’s our home,” he said. “When we invite you there, we hope you’ll feel the same way, too.”
Barchi said he was facing a busy agenda for the upcoming year, including tasks like the integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which topped his list of priorities.
“This is a massive undertaking,” he said. “It will increase the budget of the University by 50 percent and requires a whole different approach to thinking about the organization. It will, in fact, take a lot of our time.”
In order to better allocate manpower, Barchi said he has chosen to forgo UMDNJ’s formal presidential installation ceremony.
“[The ceremony] is going to take a lot of staff time, a lot of your time and a lot of resources that we can more usefully use to get the job done,” he said.
The goal, he said, is to correspond with students and staff in order to understand their vision for the University. Barchi said his job would be to facilitate that vision.
“If I had to look at the things I want to do in the first 100 days, No. 1 on the list is what we are doing today [at the breakfast],” he said. “I need to absorb the culture of Rutgers, and I need to hear from the Rutgers community.”
Barchi said he aims to start a planning process aimed at moving the University forward with tangible goals set by the community for the next five years.
“A strategic planning process comes from the bottom up from every student and faculty and staff member and from the top down from the president’s office,” he said. “We all have a chance to discuss it.”
The question of where the institution will go in the future depends on how the University community sees itself and how it wants to see itself, said Barchi, who hopes the communication can lead to a master plan for the facilities.
Barchi said he would also take time to improve the flow of the budgetary process, which will be accountable for $2 to $3 billion, because the financial end of the University moves faster than other types of businesses.
“We’re taking on another half of the University where the pace of the financial business is weekly or daily, not monthly or quarterly,” he said. “We have to be agile enough to respond to that.”
Francis Barchi said her husband has a lot to offer the University.
“He has two traits that I find unusual that any institution benefits from,” she said. “One is his ability and his willingness to truly understand a problem and to look to others for helping to complete that picture.”
She said her husband is very decisive, but wants to look to others and collaborate in order to hash out the best possible ideas and look for solutions where problems arise.
Having someone who is eager for input is a great asset, she said.