, the oldest building at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, built between 1809–1825. Old Queens houses much of the Rutgers University administration.
Two decades after the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University) was established in 1746 by the New Light Presbyterians, ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church, seeking autonomy in ecclesiastical affairs in the American colonies, sought to establish a college to train those who wanted to become ministers within the church. Through several years of effort by the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691–1747) and Rev. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736–1790), later the college's first president, Queen's College received its charter on November 10, 1766 from New Jersey's last Royal Governor, William Franklin (1730–1813), the illegitimate son of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. The original charter established the college under the corporate name the trustees of Queen's College, in New-Jersey, named in honor of King George III's Queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818), and created both the college and the Queen's College Grammar School, intended to be a preparatory school affiliated and governed by the college. The Grammar School, today the private Rutgers Preparatory School, was a part of the college community until 1959. New Brunswick was chosen as the location over Hackensack because the New Brunswick Dutch had the support of the Anglican population, making the royal charter easier to obtain.
The original purpose of Queen's College was to "educate the youth in language, liberal, the divinity, and useful arts and sciences" and for the training of future ministers for the Dutch Reformed Church. The college admitted its first students in 1771—a single sophomore and a handful of first-year students taught by a lone instructor—and granted its first degree in 1774, to Matthew Leydt. Despite the religious nature of the early college, the first classes were held at a tavern called the Sign of the Red Lion. When the Revolutionary War broke out and taverns were suspected by the British as being hotbeds of rebel activity, the college abandoned the tavern and held classes in private homes.
According to research from Scarlet and Black, "Rutgers depended on slaves to build its campuses and serve its students and faculty; it depended on the sale of black people to fund its very existence."
Financial troubles and a benefactor
Oil painting of Revolutionary War hero and philanthropist
, Colonel Henry Rutgers
(1745–1830), early benefactor and namesake of Rutgers University
In its early years, due to a lack of funds, Queen's College was closed for two extended periods. Early trustees considered merging the college with the College of New Jersey, in Princeton (the measure failed by one vote) and later considered relocating to New York City. In 1808, after raising $12,000, the college was temporarily reopened and broke ground on a building of its own, called "Old Queens", designed by architect John McComb, Jr. The college's third president, the Rev. Ira Condict, laid the cornerstone on April 27, 1809. Shortly after, the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, founded in 1784, relocated from Brooklyn, New York, to New Brunswick, and shared facilities with Queen's College (and the Queen's College Grammar School, as all three institutions were then overseen by the Reformed Church in America). During those formative years, all three institutions fit into Old Queens. In 1830, the Queen's College Grammar School moved across the street, and in 1856, the Seminary relocated to a seven-acre (28,000 m2) tract less than one-half mile (800 m) away.
After several years of closure resulting from an economic depression after the War of 1812, Queen's College reopened in 1825 and was renamed "Rutgers College" in honor of American Revolutionary War hero Colonel Henry Rutgers (1745–1830). According to the Board of Trustees, Colonel Rutgers was honored because he epitomized Christian values. A year after the school was renamed, it received two donations from its namesake: a $200 bell still hanging from the cupola of Old Queen's and a $5,000 bond (equivalent to $111,000 in 2018) which placed the college on sound financial footing.
Rutgers College became the land-grant college of New Jersey in 1864 under the Morrill Act of 1862, resulting in the establishment of the Rutgers Scientific School, featuring departments of agriculture, engineering, and chemistry. The Rutgers Scientific School would expand over the years to grow into the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (1880) and divide into the College of Engineering (1914) and the College of Agriculture (1921). Rutgers created the New Jersey College for Women in 1918, and the School of Education in 1924. With the development of graduate education, and the continued expansion of the institution, the collection of schools became Rutgers University in 1924. Rutgers College continued as a liberal arts college within the university. Later, University College (1945) was founded to serve part-time, commuting students and Livingston College (1969) was created by the Rutgers Trustees, ensuring that the interests of ethnically diverse New Jersey students were met.
Rutgers was designated the state university of New Jersey by acts of the New Jersey Legislature in 1945 and 1956. Shortly after, the University of Newark (1935) was merged with Rutgers in 1946, as were the college of South Jersey and South Jersey Law School, in 1950. These two institutions became Rutgers University–Newark and Rutgers University–Camden, respectively. On September 10, 1970, after much debate, the board of governors voted to admit women into Rutgers College.
There were setbacks in the growth of the university. In 1967, the Rutgers Physics Department had a Centers of Excellence Grant from the NSF which allowed the Physics Department to hire several faculty each year. These faculty were to be paid by the grant for three years, but after that time any faculty hired with the associate or full professor designation would become tenured. The governor and the chancellor forced Rutgers to lose this grant by rejecting the condition that tenure be granted.
In 1970, the newly formed Rutgers Medical School hired major faculty members from other institutions. In 1971, the Governor's Office separated Rutgers Medical School from Rutgers University and made it part of New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, and many faculty left the Medical School, including the dean of the Medical School, Dr. Dewitt Stetten, who later became the Director of the National Institutes of Health. As a result of the separation of the Medical School from Rutgers University, graduate PhD programs that had been started in the medical center were lost, and students had to seek other institutions to finish their degrees. After the dissolution of the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry in 2013, the medical school again became part of the university.
Although Rutgers is a public university, it retains—as the successor to the private college founded and chartered in 1766—some important private rights and protections from unilateral state efforts to change its fundamental character and mission.
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Prior to 1982, separate liberal arts faculties existed in the several separate "residential colleges" (Rutgers, Douglass, Livingston, University, and Cook colleges) at Rutgers–New Brunswick.
In 1982, under president Edward J. Bloustein, the liberal arts faculties of these five institutions were centralized into one college, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which itself had no students. The separate residential colleges persisted for students, and while instructors for classes were now drawn from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, separate standards for admission, good standing, and graduation still continued for students, depending on which residential college they were enrolled in.
In 2007, Rutgers, Douglass, Livingston, and University Colleges, along with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were merged into the new "School of Arts and Sciences" with one set of admissions criteria, curriculum, and graduation requirements. At this time, the liberal arts components of Cook College were absorbed into the School of Arts and Sciences as well, while the other aspects of that college remained, but as the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. These changes in 2007 ended the 241-year history of Rutgers College as a distinct institution.
Students at the 2011 Rutgers tuition protests fought against rising education costs and diminished state subsidies. Campus groups (including the Rutgers Student Union, the Rutgers One Coalition and the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), supported by New Jersey United Students (NJUS), mobilized to keep the increase in annual student financial obligation to a minimum through marches, sit-ins, letters to administration officials and forums.
In 2013, most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was integrated with Rutgers University and, along with several existing Rutgers units, was reformed as Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. This merger attached the New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to Rutgers University.
On June 20, 2012, the outgoing president of Rutgers University, Richard L. McCormick, announced that Rutgers will "integrate five acres along George Street between Seminary Place and Bishop Place into the College Avenue Campus." Most of the block had been occupied by the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Rutgers agreed to rebuild the seminary in exchange for the land it gave up.
In 2013, Rutgers changed part of its alma mater, "On the Banks of the Old Raritan". Where the lyrics had stated, "My father sent me to old Rutgers, and resolved that I should be a man," now they state, "From far and near we came to Rutgers, and resolved to learn all that we can."
Rutgers celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. On May 15, President Barack Obama became first sitting president to speak at the university's commencement. The university held a variety of celebrations, academic programs, and commemorative events which culminated on the 250th anniversary date, November 10, 2016. Rutgers invited multiple notable alumni from around the world to the celebration. Today Rutgers enjoys global influence with alumni rooted around the globe. Rutgers also has close ties to figures who grew up or continue to live in New Jersey with notable figures such as Chris Christie, justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, and Alice Waters each having a parent who attended the institution.
In November 2016, Rutgers released research findings that revealed "an untold history of some of the institution's founders as slave owners and the displacement of the Native Americans who once occupied land that was later transferred to the college."