Rutgers Appoints Robert Barchi as 20th President
Robert L. Barchi was approved Wednesday by the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees.
The governance bodies of Rutgers University named Robert L. Barchi the 20th president of the university on Wednesday morning after nine months of searching for a new chief academic officer.
On Wednesday afternoon, following Barchi's morning speech that stressed the importance of working with the Rutgers faculty, the Rutgers faculty union issued a statement welcoming Barchi.
"We are pleased to welcome Professor Barchi to Rutgers and congratulate him on his appointment as President,” said Adrienne Eaton, AAUP-AFT President and Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations. “Dr. Barchi’s first remarks at today’s Board of Governors meeting were reassuring. He committed himself to shared governance and praised our outstanding faculty and community of scholars. It is instructive that he is particularly proud of his faculty appointment at Rutgers.”
Barchi, 65, has served as president of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia since 2004. He is a former provost for the University of Pennsylvania, serving in that role from 1999 to 2004.
Barchi's appointment was unanimously approved Wednesday by both the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees.
According to the terms of his contract, he will be paid a base salary of $650,000. He begins on September 1, and will continue to hold the position indefinitely "at the pleasure of the Board of Governors."
He was also approved to teach at Rutgers as a professor.
Barchi, a neuroscientist, educator and academic administrator, holds numerous degrees, including a B.S. and M.S. degrees from Georgetown University, and M.D. and Ph.D received from the University of Pennsylvania.
He began his career as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania in 1972, being named David Mahoney Professor of Neurological Sciences, and a Fairhill Professor, according to a release from Rutgers.
In his remarks to a room full of Rutgers staff and media, Barchi focused on the academic potential of Rutgers, stating that he felt it important to include the university faculty in discussions about governance, and said he believed that the accomplishments of Rutgers needed to be broadcasted louder to the world.
His welcome remarks touched on the topics of funding, diversity, and Rutgers's potential as a premier school for undergraduate education.
He drew the loudest and longest applause from the audience upon mentioning that Rutgers Camden and Rutgers Newark were included in his vision for Rutgers, stating that all three campuses contribute to the strength of the university.
The Rutgers faculty union also praised Barchi's inclusion of the Camden and Newark campuses in his remarks.
“He noted his strong family roots in New Jersey and specifically referred to Rutgers as a three-campus university—New Brunswick, Camden and Newark—with a clear need to properly resource Camden and Newark and provide the governance needed to make them thrive. This should go a long way to ease concerns of our members and students in Camden and Newark," Eaton said.
Barchi said the challenges facing the university include funding, stating that the business plan used by universities and colleges will not sustain them over the next 50 years.
Rutgers must become a "public/private" hybrid" for its funding, and look to alternative sources of revenue, he said. Rutgers has already paid ample attention to its finances and is in a position to take advantage of this challenge, he said.
"It is a remarkable time of challenge and opportunity," he said.
When asked about being one of the oldest presidents to be appointed at Rutgers, Barchi said he did not plan on serving a short period before retiring.
"I'm not here to hit and run," he said.
Universities are looking for presidents with a lifetime's worth of job experience at this moment, he said.
Born in Philadelphia, Barchi said he spent his childhood in Westfield, and attended a year of high school at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark.
His family moved to Trenton shortly after, and he finished his high school education at St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia, he said.
Barchi said that he was familiar with the different areas of New Jersey, and would be moving to the New Brunswick area with his wife, Francis Harper Barchi, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.
In his discussions with academic circles around the state before being appointed to the job, Barchi said he has met with Gov. Christie to discuss his new role as president, and that the hour and a half meeting they had was "very positive."
Barchi's introduction to the state came earlier than anticipated, when the university posted a photo of him on the Rutgers website on Tuesday and quickly pulled it down.
Outgoing president Richard McCormick ends his tenure as president at the end of the current school year, but will remain a Rutgers staffer as a professor.