The numbers don’t lie and they vividly show how far academic standards at Rutgers have collapsed. In 1997, USNews & World Reports pegged Rutgers as the 45th best university in the country. In 2007, ten years and millions of dollars poured into the football sinkhole later, Rutgers had tumbled to #60, where it is tied with Texas A&M, it is six spots worse than Pepperdine, eight spots worse than Syracuse.
Just a decade ago, Rutgers had reason to dream big, to hope to become one of the nation’s leading research institutions. Hah! Today’s Rutgers is fighting off Texas A & M.
As Rutgers fell 15 spots, most other universities moved very little in the rankings. Illinois, for instance, moved from #50 to #41. Wisconsin went from #41 to #34. Univ Calif at Irvine went from #37 to #44. No top 50 school in 1997 moved as many rungs, up or down, as Rutgers did in the decade that followed. Which shows how stark the rot at Rutgers is.
There is no real end to this decay in sight. Funding for academics at Rutgers keeps getting slashed by the state, the McCormick administration is unpersuasive in its appeals to private donors, and — basically — Rutgers has fallen from the “public Ivy” vision of President Ed Bloustein into the mediocrity that is the blurry McCormick vision.
Who is kidding whom? Rutgers is getting worse and worse. That is the truth, it is painful, but it is reality. And the recent NCAA research makes clear that football is not a highway to prosperity, it is not the panacea that will end this misery for Rutgers. What is profoundly sad is that, apparently, no one in Old Queens has a plan for putting Rutgers on sounder scholarly footing — if they do, they are staying silent because we have not heard word one about how to heal Rutgers’ many ills. Not one word.