Personal Department Histories
The Rutgers political science department was created in a very unusual manner, merging several existing political science departments, each with its own distinctive history, culture, and curriculum. We are not pretending to present a history of the process, but it seemed useful to collect the memories of some of the individuals involved while we could still pretend to remember. I have asked them to set down their memories of their departments before the merger, the process of reorganization as they saw it, and how the new department differs from the old ones. No limitations were placed on content, length, or medium, although most chose to write, no doubt reflecting our age. No effort was made to reconcile differences of fact or opinion, and I encouraged them to be candid even at the risk of offending others. We hope you find them interesting.
A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF RUTGERS NEW BRUNSWICK
Roy Licklider and Gerald Pomper
Rutgers University historically dates to 1766 when Queens College was granted a royal charter, the eighth of nine colonial colleges. It was founded to educate ministers of the Dutch Reform church to offset the devilish Presbyterians of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Renamed Rutgers College after a Revolutionary War hero who gave money (and a bell) to the school, it barely survived the next hundred years or so, closing for extended periods of time because of lack of funds but eventually developed into a classic liberal arts college for young men; the seminary remains as a separate institution on College Avenue. For much of this period the building known as Old Queens was library, dormitory, and classroom space (at the same time).
The Morrill Act of 1864 gave federal land to states to found colleges for the “agricultural and mechanical arts.” In most states this resulted in new institutions (Texas A&M, Colorado A&M, etc.) teaching agricultural and engineering skills separate from colleges which eventually became state universities. Over time the two types tended to become more similar with the A&M schools often being renamed (Colorado State, Arizona State, etc.). In the East it sometimes seemed simpler to build on existing private colleges. Reportedly in New Jersey Princeton declined to participate (gentlemen don’t shovel manure?). Rutgers established a state-funded agricultural school, although it did so across town where it eventually spawned Cook College, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), and the Agricultural Experiment Station. Cornell in New York did something similar.
After World War I feminists succeeded in getting the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution ratified, giving women the right to vote. As a part of the same movement, the New Jersey College for Women (later Douglass College) was founded in 1918 as a separate private women’s college with loose ties to Rutgers College but its own faculty and curricula. It was located on land immediately adjacent to the agricultural school given by James Nielsen; his house was Woodlawn, the home of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. In 1934 University College was established to serve adults and part-time students, often with night classes, closely linked to Rutgers College but with its own faculty (probably because most faculty don’t like to teach at night).
After World War II New Jersey decided that it needed a state university. Essentially it bought a number of private institutions including Rutgers College and Douglass College in New Brunswick. It also purchased a number of professional schools and colleges in Newark and Camden to get the votes of the state legislators from those areas. The entire rather unwieldy complex was named Rutgers The State University of New Jersey. Rutgers is the only school in the United States to have been a colonial college, a land grant institution, and a state university.
By 1960, the first members of the baby boom generation were nearing college age, and hordes of new students were on the way. Rutgers, still new to its position as New Jersey’s state university, would have to expand rapidly. The vibrant postwar economy would provide the resources, expanding graduate programs would provide the ambitious faculty, the federal government would provide land, and young veterans and spouses would provide the children. Neither Rutgers College nor Douglass had much land available for expansion. However, a major Army base across the river in Piscataway, Camp Kilmer, had become available after World War II. Rutgers secured a substantial chunk of it and planned to create three new liberal arts colleges there. The first was Livingston College, where planning began in 1965 and instruction began for freshmen and a snall number of transfer students in 1969.
Where was political science in all this? Apparently it didn’t exist as a separate discipline until about 1962 when the independent departments of history-political science at Rutgers and Douglass split up to form separate departments. Expansion was rapid, including persons still remembered in New Brunswick, including James Rosenau, Robert Kaufman, Harvey Waterman and Licklider at Douglass, and Gordon Schochet, Ross Baker, Michael Curtis and Pomper at Rutgers College.
At two different levels the various groups of institutions did not mesh well. Attempts to link New Brunswick/Piscataway, Newark, and Camden were very awkward. Eventually each developed independently, with recruitment and promotions essentially controlled by each of the separate units (although as late as the 1970s faculty promotions had to be nominally approved in meetings of the tenured faculty of all three). Furtermore, the Eagleton Institute of Politics had its own contingent of faculty, including the noted Americanists Paul Tillettt (memorialized in the first building at Livingston) and Alan Rosenthal and the political theorist Sebastian de Grazia.
In New Brunswick the original idea, the Federated Plan, was that there would be several coordinate undergraduate colleges, somewhat along the lines of Pomona in California or the Five Colleges in Massachusetts. Each of the three units (Rutgers, Douglass, and University College) had its own faculty and curricula, not to mention very different cultures, and Livingston was formed on the same pattern. Initially the plan was that the agricultural school would be changed into a liberal arts college with an environmental focus called Cook College, and a recent political science graduate student, David Rosen, was hired as the first member of its political science faculty. So there were four separate undergraduate political science departments in New Brunswick, with an incipient fifth at Cook, each with its own rules, curricula, and culture. The theory was that they would coordinate to operate a graduate program, but this was difficult since there was no single location for teaching and no way to produce a faculty with an appropriate balance of specialty and methodologies for a Ph.D. program.
In 1968 James Rosenau of Douglass College was appointed New Brunswick Chairman of Political Science. Despite this imposing title, he had had relatively few resources to work with; the Chair had no independent budgetary authority and only an advisory role in appointments and promotions. Over time the powers of the chair were increased, but the faculty remained separated geographically, administratively and culturally.
The reorganization of 1980 changed everything. The Federated Plan was abandoned. Colleges departments of all the disciplines were collapsed into single disciplinary departments located in one place (for political science it was Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus). The classrooms, dormitories, and other facilities on the three campuses were immovable, so classes continued to be taught in these different locations, producing the unusual (!) physical arrangement of Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway. Faculty and students traveled as necessary (with the assistance of the second-largest bus system in the state),. In a further consolidation in 1995, faculty were totally separated from the separate colleges which were reduced to residential not instructional units (albeit with a nominal Douglass group), replaced by a single School of Arts and Sciences. Not surprisingly the need to change physical locations and at the same time create a new department with its own rules and curricula was not simple, but it got done; for further discussion of how it was done, see the contributions of individual participants.
It seems fair to say that this process is unique among major political science departments, and it seemed useful to try to preserve some memories of life under the Federated Plan and reorganization. A number of individuals who experienced the process from different positions and perspectives were asked to tell how things looked to them at the time. These are strictly personal accounts; no limits were placed on content, length, or format other than some very light editing. Not surprisingly their recollections differ, but the narratives serve as a basis for understanding what happened and why it mattered.
Rutgers Since 1945: A History of the State University of New Jersey by Paul Clemens
Rutgers: A Bicentennnial History by Richard Patrick McCormick
Academic Reorganization in New Brunswick 1962-1978: The Federated College Plan by
Richard Patrick McCormick
Evaluation of the Rutgers-New Brunswick Federated Plan, 1979-1980 by Richard P. McCormick